Sunday, July 26, 2015

Audiobook Review : Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune

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Title: Into This River I Drown

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Matt Baca

Length: 18 hrs + 49 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release: 19th August 2014

Genre: M/M (paranormal)

Synopsis

Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father Big Eddie when his truck crashed into a river. Everyone called it an accident, but Benji knows it was more. Even years later, he's buried in his grief, throwing himself into managing Big Eddie's convenience store in the small-town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day to day, struggling to keep his head above water.

But Roseland is no ordinary place.

With ever more frequent dreams of his father's death and waking visions of feathers on the river's surface, Benji finds his definition of reality bending. He thinks himself haunted; by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. Not until a man falls from the sky, leaving the burning imprint of wings on the ground, does Benji begin to understand that the world is more mysterious than he ever imagined - and more dangerous. As uncontrollable forces descend on Roseland, they reveal long-hidden truths about friends, family, and the stranger Calliel - a man Benji can no longer live without.

Rating

BOOK

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NARRATION

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Mark’s Review

The Story

I believe in Angels! Well, I do now after listening to TJ Klune’s Into This River I Drown. I have been staring at a blank screen for over 30 mins now thinking about how I can do justice to such a marvellous work that left me breathless, in awe and wonderment of all the emotions that this book evoked in me through the writing talent of TJ Klune. A book that is poignant, heartfelt, full of emotion and had me welling up with tears while driving. Not a good situation admittedly, it should come with a warning not to operate machinery whilst listening, but tears were unavoidable after listening to this beautiful story of Benjy and the angel Calliel. 

I certainly heard all the rave reviews this book got when it was first published, so maybe I’m a little behind but better late than never. The thing is I very rarely or never really read anything that is paranormal. OK, for me it depends on the amount of paranormal in the book. I have read books where I have just been left rolling my eyes and saying, really? Oh pleease! You can’t be serious. But oh my! THIS BOOK! YES ~ THIS BOOK!!…….

Gets absolutely everything just right!

Benjy has lost his father in a road accident and although it happened five years ago he is still being eaten up by grief. He has all but cut everyone out of his life including his family as he can’t move on and misses his father, who he adored, after he was killed. The boy’s grief is so sad but now at stage where you could say it is becoming unhealthy. I could just feel how this young man missed his father so terribly much, the horrible hole it has left in his heart that no one can fill. Was it morose? Not really, although I did want to slap him sometimes, get angry with him and tell him to snap out of it. His grief was slowly destroying him and everyone around him could see this too. But when you have had someone you love above all else ripped out of your life then the shock is deep, especially at the impressionable age that Benjy was.

It needs a miracle to pull Benjy out of this and this is exactly what he gets in the form of Calliel the guardian angel for Roseland who falls from the sky one night. This is only the beginning of a long journey for Benjy which opens his eyes to many things but most of all how is grief is also selfish. Benjy’s faith is tried and tested to the limit but only to open his eyes further. It’s a story that deals with love, loss, sacrifice, family and friends, good and evil, but mostly for me the moral of this story was one of better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Benjy needs to find out and accept exactly why his father died, for what reasons and believe in the greater good. However, there is evil lurking in Roseland and this puts Benjy’s life in danger and that is why Calliel has come to protect him and never leave his side. A promise he made to Benjy’s father. Calliel for me was the perfect personification of what I thought a guardian angel might be like. He is not perfect by any means and that made him all the more endearing to me. He is also being tried and tested by his Father and needs to find out why. I also liked the parallels drawn here with Benjy missing his father and Calliel’s conflict and love for his Father. I’m not religious at all and neither does this book purport to be either, but it did bring a refreshing look for me on the whole heaven and earth issue, along with departed souls, life after death, Archangels and of course God, who here is not as perfect as we all make him out to be. Yes, by the end it had me ugly crying! Benjy is tried and tested and has to make several sacrifices before he gets his HEA.

This book as I said goes beyond words for me and anything I write I feel would just not do it justice. The plot is well thought out, intricate and flows well. Even though it is paranormal, for me it never left the realms of credibility. And of course the feelz, the emotions, the longings and yearnings, an incredibly poignant tour de force of a book.  

Do I now believe in angels? YES!!! Do you need to read / listen to this book? YES!!

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Narration

The voice of Matt Baca as the narrator didn’t sit with my ears easily on the outset. It was a voice I had to warm too, but I’m glad to say that it did and in the end a wonderful narration it was too. He has a young sounding voice which is necessary for this story as Benjy even when he meets Calliel is still only a young man if you view it from where I’m sitting. No, I’m not going to give away my age. So a mature voice would have been totally out of place and therefore once I had warmed to Matt’s voice it was in effect perfectly cast. There are a lot of characters and difficult ones to cast in this book especially Nina, Benjy’s aunt, who has down syndrome. Nina was one of my favourite characters in this book and my heart leapt for joy every time she appeared and I feel Matt got the nuances just right. The only thing that didn’t sit quite so well me with was the voice characterisation of the archangel Michael. He sounded a just little too sinister and malevolent for me considering he is supposed to be an angel and effectively one of the good guys so to speak. The texts for his dialogues and messages were mysterious enough, but it didn’t sound mystical mysterious for me but more nefarious mysterious.

This is also a story that deals a lot with Benjy’s internal thoughts and I loved the way this was done by using a very subtle echo / hall sound effect to highlight when it was Benjy thinking to himself. Out of all the audiobooks I have listened too I have never met this before in any production and this was super thing, effectively done and absolutely right for this story.  

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Audio Excerpt

 

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Meet TJ Klune

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn't think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.

He lives with a neurotic cat in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It’s hot there, but he doesn’t mind. He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.

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