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Geek Girl’s Fictional Junk Food-o-Rama- The Audiobook and the Road trip
About once every four months, I take a road trip that lasts more than seven hours. If you’ve ever traveled that kind of distance in a car with no radio, you know how completely maddening it can be. Usually, I have a stack of CDs brimming with music to listen to, but this trip, I decided to try a little experiment. I’d gotten the audio book of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous: Chronicles of Nick, and it had been sitting gathering dust for a while. I figured that I really had nothing to lose, and it was a long drive, so listening to the book could be a good idea.
I haven’t read any of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s other books. I know she’s written some paranormal romance series that are very popular. Essentially, I was walking into the middle of a series completely blind and unsure of how it was going to be. I admit, there were music CDs lying in wait, just in case I needed to put in some back-up.
The series wasn’t the only thing new. I haven’t had much experience with audio books, either. To date, the only other audio book that I have is Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald (which is excellent, by the way, and I believe, still free at audible.com). Still, A Study in Emerald is short. It’s less than an hour long. Infamous had seven discs and was going to take me hours to listen to. I had a feeling that if I was going to want to write about it, then I was going to have to listen to it steadily, and I just didn’t see that happening if I tried listening to it at home.
The road trip began with disc one in the player, and I started listening to the story of Nick Gautier discovering that he was demon spawn. Chronicles of Nick is intended for a YA audience. The story takes place while Nick is still a teenager and going through not only all the normal teenaged stuff but also all of the stuff that being essentially a supernatural being entails. Obviously, that’s not going to be easy.
Infamous opens with Nick finding out that his father is a demon who, for whatever reason, is choosing to remain in prison. Nick doesn’t have too much time to dwell on that, however, because someone starts a vicious website that mixes gossip and revealed secrets onto the students in Nick’s school. Most of the information on the website is pure fabrication, but enough of it is true to sow real seeds of dissent in the school. Before long, students are attacking each other because lives are being torn apart. Nick is sure that it goes beyond just an angry student motivated by revenge, but he’s unsure what supernatural element might be involved.
Then, of course, there’s all the normal issues that he has to deal with. His mother is single and doing the best she can to support her son. She just wants him to do better for himself than she did. The problem is that Nick’s got a temper, something that he’s demonstrated more than once to his detriment. She begs him to stop fighting and, when Nick keeps that promise to his mother, Nick finds out more about his demon heritage than he really wanted to know.
I was surprised by how quickly I got into the book. It’s fun and a little bit campy. There’s a sarcastic bent to the humor that fits perfectly with the teenage boy protagonist. And, while there were times that I got annoyed with Nick’s attachment to the word “literally,” it made perfect sense in the context of the character. He’s a kid, and, most of the time, he talks like a kid. He has a voice that sounds authentic, especially when he’s really being annoying.
Of course, Nick’s a Cajun, so there are a lot of references to Southern culture thrown into the book. It’s not the kind of thing that someone wouldn’t understand, but there’s definitely a feel of that culture permeating the book. The men are all duly respectful of the women around them, because their Mommas have raised them to be that way. There’s an element of fear that can only have come from getting smacked with a wooden spoon in a kitchen when their hands had found their way into cookie dough that was supposed to be baked first. It’s really that kind of book.
It was just fun to listen to. Holter Graham has voices that are very distinctive for most of the characters, although for a lot of the adult Dark Hunter characters he seemed to default to deep and gravelly, and they weren’t quite as distinctive as other characters. I thought he did a great job with distinguishing the female characters in the book, though. I could immediately recognize Nick’s mother, Bubba’s mother, Nick’s girlfriend Coty, and Nick’s friend Brynna by the changes in tone and modulation that made them distinct. The reading was even and consistent and transmitted emotion without getting overbearing about any of it. Overall, I would consider it a good performance of written material.
As for the book itself, Nick could have been one of the most pathetic, whiny teenagers to ever be the focus of a book–but wasn’t. Sure, there were times when he did whine, but he didn’t stay mired in his misery all the time. Nick doesn’t hate the world and everything in it, and he’s trying his best. His mom has her faults, as well, and she makes mistakes, but she’s trying as hard as she can, too.
There were times, though, that other characters seemed infinitely more appealing than Nick himself. Mostly, it was other characters identified as Dark Hunters. I’m not sure that the extent of the distraction was Kenyon’s intent, but it’s there all the same.
I felt that Infamous made a good, easy summer read. It was fun without being either silly or ridiculous, and it has made me curious about reading Kenyon’s other books. I don’t know if I will or not, but the possibility is certainly there.