Saturday, September 24, 2016

REVIEW: Foreigner (audiobook) by C.J. Cherryh, narrated by Daniel Thomas May

I first read and reviewed a paper copy of Foreigner only a few months ago, so there's a lot I won't go into again, and I won't be writing another summary. However, it's worth writing a second review. I have some comments to make on both the audiobook experience and on the rereading experience. As a result, I'll be touching on some spoilery things.

The audiobook doesn't include the pronunciation guide or the glossary that can be found in my paper copy of the book. Although I missed the glossary a little, the pronunciation guide wasn't necessary. I didn't actively compare Daniel Thomas May's pronunciation to the guide, but I do know that his pronunciation of “Jago,” at least, followed what Cherryh wrote in her guide. Maybe I'll finally start mentally pronouncing Jago's name correctly while reading the books.

Although I had some issues with May's narration, overall I enjoyed it. He was particularly excellent when narrating Bren's thoughts and dialogue (basically most of the book), infusing the lines with just the right amount of emotion. His atevi voices didn't work quite as well for me, but I'm not sure there was much he could have done about that. After all, atevi aren't supposed to do much obvious emoting.

FYI, this next bit is where the spoilers come in.

As far as the rereading experience went, I'm not sure if I liked the story more or about the same the second time through, but I did end up with a ton of respect for Cherryh's handling of POV. The first time through, all I got was Bren's interpretation of what was going on. The second time through made it clear that Foreigner was essentially at least two stories in one – Bren's side of things (“someone is trying to kill me, I don't know why, and I'm not sure which of the atevi around me, if any, I can trust”) and the atevi side of things (“how does the spaceship change things, will the Mospheiran humans betray us, will Bren in particular betray us and/or has he already done so?”). I never once noticed a moment when Bren reacted in ways that didn't fit the story as he knew it, but at the same time I was able to understand more of what motivated the atevi.

Although I'm going to continue to do my first read-throughs via my paper copies (or e-book, whatever I end up with), I definitely plan to follow them up with the audiobook versions. I'm looking forward to listening to Invader in the near future.

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