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Description⎮Reviewed Jun. 2015
Narrator: Gillian Burke
Length: 16h 36m
Published: Hachette Audio⎮2016
5 ★ Audiobook⎮ If I wanted to, I could detract an entire star just for the fact that I now have “Hey Macarena!” stuck on a loop in my head…
But I won’t, because The Sudden Appearance of Hope deserves every single one of those five stars. It was utterly fascinating. Seriously, I could not put it down. Even when I could manage to put it down, it was still on my mind. The whole concept was very unsettling, but in the most brilliant way. It occurred to me several times during the 16 hours of listening to this that the most appropriate word to describe this story is revealing. The world that Claire North creates is not so different from our own, which is exactly what makes this story so riveting and revealing. A story about a girl who is forgotten by everyone she encounters would have honestly been enough for me. That premise itself is what hooked me into reading this in the first place. But the story isn’t all about Hope and the “condition” that makes her unmemorable. She just facilitates the story; it unfolds through and around her.
The thing that makes The Sudden Appearance of Hope so revealing (and frightening) is how well Claire North blends fact and fiction. For instance, the fictional app called “Perfection” collects data and usage information from your phone to help you better manage your life and collect rewards in the process. Sounds harmless, right? It also allows companies to market their products through the app and uses a points system, or what psychologists would call conditioning techniques (rewards/punishments), to instill certain behaviors in the user. The psychology of it all is just astounding… and sort of familiar. North obviously took liberties with certain aspects of “Perfection” but it isn’t hard at all to see where her inspiration came from. In fact, she mentions several very real companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.) that have similar practices. The Sudden Appearance of Hope will definitely have you reading the fine print of user agreements and double-checking your app permissions!
🙌 Audio Bonus: Audible.com features a free 15-minute exclusive interview with author Claire North in which she discusses her inspiration for writing this story. Find it here!
Narration review: Gillian Burke did an absolutely amazing job narrating The Sudden Appearance of Hope. I was super impressed with her narration. This audiobook required a very talented and astute narrator and Burke fit the bill perfectly. I was floored by her ability to voice so many different accents (the main character travels a lot) and give each of the characters their own distinct sound. Although, I am surprised to see that this was her only audiobook on Audible. Perhaps she has recorded others elsewhere. I find it hard to believe that this could have been her debut recording, because it was absolute perfection. ♣︎