Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Personal Effects (Audio)

When I received a copy of Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie from Candlewick Press, I wasn't terribly excited to read about it. My usual tastes don't trend towards current day, real-life fiction, especially involving American soldiers. And so, the book sat on my shelf for months.

But when it showed up again on YALSA's 2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, I was curious. I have an easier time with books I'm not terribly interested in if I listen to them instead (as long as the reader is good), so I thought it would be worth a try.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Matt, the narrator, is a troubled and troubling young man, and I spent much of the book just wanting to give him a hug. He's still reeling from the death of his brother, a soldier in Afghanistan, 7 months earlier, and when he comes across some letters in his brother's personal effects, he starts to wonder if he didn't know his brother as well as he thought.

The story itself meanders a bit, and there were a few too many "startling" revelations for me near the end. But the main plot line was compelling enough to keep me entertained (and even to sit in my car to finish a scene more than once).

The real winner here, though, is the reader of the audiobook. Finding readers who don't just read the story but add to it is hard; I've had some audiobooks that I've turned off immediately because the narrator was just ruining them. But Nick Podehl brings such life to Matt, along with the rest of the cast of characters, that the story felt that much more real and immediate to me. I doubt I would have enjoyed it as much if I had just read the story. 

This is definitely one to check out on audio.

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