Cassidy Blake, Book 1
Reviewed Oct. 2018
Narrator: Reba Buhr
Length: 5 hours 2 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio⎮2018
4★ Audiobook⎮You see the part of the synopsis that recommends this for fans of Stranger Things? I zoomed in on that part and immediately started listening without even realizing this was a middle-grade story. Admittedly, I don’t have the best record with middle-grade stories and Victoria Schwab is usually hit or miss with me anyway. But I will say that my listening experience improved significantly once I realized that City of Ghosts was written for middle-grade children.
That realization occurred about 50% through the audiobook and it nullified nearly all of my complaints up to that point. Perspective is everything.As a middle-grade book, this was actually pretty great. It was certainly better than those I’ve heard in the past. I think I even liked it better than the Miss Peregrine series and I definitely liked it better than the Percy Jackson series.
It also didn’t hurt that the audiobook was only five hours long. So when I finally realized what I was hearing, I was already 2.5 hours in, with another 2.5 to go. That, plus the fact that I am currently 8 books behind in my Goodreads challenge, heavily factored into my decision to finish this book. When you’re that far behind and the end of the year is quickly approaching, short, fast-paced books are the way to go! City of Ghosts was a super easy listen and, once I made up my mind to push through it, I was finished in no time. This could easily be heard in a day.
A lot of that had to do with Victoria Schwab’s writing. Schwab wrote the protagonist, Cassidy, in such a way that her age wasn’t that obvious. I was pretty surprised to find out she was only 12 years old! I’ve read stories with teenage and adult protagonists who were way more immature than Cassidy. She didn’t go around making nonsensical choices that left me rolling my eyes and she wasn’t a whiny brat.
Let me put it this way: If all middle-grade books were written this well, I wouldn’t be as wary of the genre. I’m not saying this was fantastic or the best thing I’ve heard this year, but it was better than I expected it to be. If I were recommending middle-grade audiobooks for an adult, City of Ghosts would be atop my list. With that said, I’m still undecided about whether or not to continue with this when the next installment is released. City of Ghosts wasn’t a bad listen considering my circumstances, but I don’t know if I would voluntarily return to the middle-grade genre. But, then again, I won’t rule it out entirely…
Narration review: City of Ghosts was my first-time hearing Reba Buhr narrate. Before I realized this was a middle-grade audiobook, I thought Buhr’s narration sounded a tad bit juvenile and just a little overdramatic for what I assumed was a YA audiobook. But after realizing the audience for which it was intended, Buhr’s narration seemed most appropriate. In fact, she had a lot to do with my positive assessment of Cassidy’s maturity level. Along with Schwab’s writing, Buhr’s narration made Cassidy seem older than 12 and much more likable. Even the extra vocal flair she provided seemed fitting for a middle-grade audience. I think it actually helped keep my attention too! ♣︎