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Friday, July 6, 2012

Resonance (audiobook) by AJ Scudiere

  Great characters, lingering story.

Audio version published by Skyboat Road Company in 2008.
Multicast Performance
Duration: 16 hours, 25 minutes

The premise behind Resonance is simple - the magnetic poles are starting to switch and it is starting to cause frogs to be born deformed, messing up migration patterns and kill people who are in "hotspots" (areas where the reversal has already started).

Scudiere does a great job of creating believable characters and her five main characters are quite strong. We have two young doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and their boss (played by Arte Johnson of Laugh-In fame), a young narcissistic geologist and a young biologist who specializes in frogs.

These five race around the country documenting "hotspots" and trying to figure out why people exposed to them die. As they travel, we learn a lot more about the characters and a romance starts to bloom.

Well, it would start to bloom except for two things: 1) the entire world suddenly shifts causing half of the world's population to die and 2) the guy just somehow can't muster up the guts to tell her how he feels even though everyone knows it except for her for about 6 hours of the audiobook.

In fact, the book just goes into some sort of holding pattern about two-thirds of the way through. The explanation behind the mass deaths is discovered (because why would magnetic reversals kill people? If it so bad than an MRI would be fatality-inducing) and there is a Twilight Zone-esque ending that is fairly clever but takes too long to resolve.

What is not discussed is the concept of the world still running along like normal even though half of the population has died. No mass chaos. No nuclear power plants overloading. No rogue nations deciding "Hey! It's the end of the world so let's go ahead and nuke such-and-such country!" Deliveries are still made, the phones still work, bureaucrats are still filing forms and accountants are still watching the bottom line. Having never seen the end of the world, I can only assume that it would be less like a Midwestern blizzard and more like Hurricane Katrina when it hit New Orleans and the social fabric was torn to pieces.

This audiobook is billed as an "AudioMovie" because it has special effects and multiple actors reading the different parts, much like an old-fashioned radio show. Several audiobook producers are using this format and it can be a superior way to tell a story. The actors did a great job, especially Arte Johnson who stole every scene he was in with his role as the elderly brilliant but cranky CDC administrator.The special effects were relatively rare and did not intrude as can happen with some companies that have used this format.

This was a book in serious need of a thorough editing. Three or four hours could have been removed from this book without hurting it. Repeated conversations abound and the ending with a twist just lingered until it  eventually lost its punch.

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed on July 6, 2012.

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