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In Times Like These #2
Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2016
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Length: 19h 48m
Publisher: Skylighter Press⎮2015
3.25 ★ Audiobook⎮This book was a struggle for me. During the first 65%, I was nearly bored out of my mind. Couple that with an overwhelming sense of confusion and I was ready to table it by the time I reached 46% completion. My primary frustration was the writing style. This book was all plot and no story. Imagine being suddenly grabbed by the arm and dragged along behind someone for miles at an alarming pace with absolutely no idea where you were going. No explanations. No breaks. Just go-go-go. It might be exciting at first, but it would get exhausting really fast. This was one of the most imbalanced stories I’ve ever heard. There was practically no character development or world-building. Seriously, none. I had no idea who these characters were or what their world was like. That was beyond frustrating. The author was so plot-focused that he basically ignored everything else. But why would I care about the plot (in this case, the Chronothon race) if I don’t care about anyone in it? Out of the host of characters, there were only two I came to care about at all (Jonah and Barley). Neither of them was the main character and one of them was a dog.
But I suppose I can’t blame my entire lack of enthusiasm on the writing. As you may have noticed, this audiobook is the second installment in a series and 99% of my confusion most likely could have been avoided if I had heard the first installment before beginning this one. I’m not normally one to listen to a series out of order and this is the perfect example of why. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the prior installment has yet to be recorded. Several reviews claim that this installment can act as a standalone novel but I am calling “bull”. I mean, I suppose it could, but it would be majorly lacking. I can only assume (and hope) that the majority of my confusion could have been avoided if I had heard In Times Like These first. Van Coops’ take on time travel is very original, but I can also assume that the mechanics of his version of time travel were explained in the previous installment and I missed all of that. I was pretty much “hung out to dry” when it came to understanding how time travel worked in this book. There was a lot of talk about time streams with various names and origins (all of which I still know nothing about) and I sort of had to piece everything together on my own. It felt like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when half of the pieces are missing. To say the least, it was very, very frustrating. Obviously, I suggest reading In Times Like These beforehand, or waiting for the audiobook (which I am told is already slated for production). Perhaps it’s just me who can’t hear audiobooks out of order, but I swear I really did try with this one. Despite all of this, I won’t completely rule out listening to In Times Like These when it is released as an audiobook (mostly out of curiosity). I suspect that at least 75% of the complaints posted here could be nullified by hearing In Times Like These. This is partially a case of “cart before horse” on my part.
Narration review: For me, the narration of this audiobook was actually the brightest part of the whole experience. Neil Hellegers’ narration was simply awesome! Although the book was a bit of a letdown, the narration did not disappoint. Hellegers’ voice held a sense of urgency that added so much to the atmosphere of the story and kept regaining my attention whenever my mind would wander (which was pretty frequently). He was the perfect choice to narrate such an action-filled story. I also love that I could never definitively place an age on his voice. It somehow had a youthful and mature quality, especially when he was voicing the protagonist, Ben. This also allowed him to seamlessly switch between character voices, since there was a wide age range between a lot of the characters. The tone and range of his voice were so captivating, that his narration actually held my interest a lot better than did the story itself. I really do appreciate Mr. Hellegers’ generosity in gifting me this book and, despite my feelings towards this particular story, I would be absolutely thrilled to hear his narration abilities again. He truly is an extremely talented narrator. ♣︎
Update: I’ve now heard and reviewed In Times Like These (the first installment in this series) and it did indeed nullify some of the above complaints. Read my 4.5 ★ review of In Times Like These here.
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Neil Hellegers, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Neil!
$ Available at Audible/Amazon