LISTENER

Rod

  • 31
  • reviews
  • 36
  • helpful votes
  • 32
  • ratings
  • Vardaesia

  • The Medoran Chronicles, Book 5
  • By: Lynette Noni
  • Narrated by: Carly Robins
  • Length: 15 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

In the wake of loss and devastation, Alex must cast aside her grief to seek aid from those who banished the Meyarins long ago. But the proud Tia Aurans care little for the woes of mortals and demand that Alex - and her friends - undergo the Gates of Testing to prove their world is worth saving. With an ancient prophecy looming, Alex must confront the secrets of her past if she is to survive long enough to see the future. For if she returns to Medora without the Tia Aurans by her side, all hope will be lost.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • best book

  • By Anonymous User on 28-03-2019

A stunning conclusion to a great YA fantasy series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-2019

It has been a breathtaking adventure over the past four volumes as Alex and her friends delved into the wondrous world of Medora and its history, filled with superior technology, dragons and mystics. Their journey has led them to this concluding chapter where the fate of Medora and the mortal world hang in the balance under an enemy too great to conquer.

Lynette Noni has proven her worth as an imaginative writer and effective story teller, summoning up visions of incredible worlds, extraordinary cultures, and edge-of-your-seat adventures that have made every volume a page-turner.

Vardaesia achieves the seemingly impossible by outdoing everything before it, offering a stunning finale that is both horrific and wonderful. Not all the characters we’ve grown to love, like or loathe survive, with Alex and Co first having to face the prideful Tia Auran race to elicit their help in the coming fight against Aven.

The stakes are higher than ever for the heroes, but the epic battles, mind games and romance, intermingled with prophesy and plotting, are all riding on a story of family, friendship and learning to have faith in oneself.

Noni’s multi-layered narrative is filled with well-rounded characters, plot twists, and a clever intertwining of events and characters from the story’s past, tying together numerous threads and unsolved mysteries.

Carly Robins has been with the series from the beginning as the audiobook narrator, and she returns for this final showdown, conjuring up the majesty and emotion of the characters and action. She’s an articulate reader who provides distinguishable characterisations and excellent pacing. By now, she knows the characters well and understands the subtext of their words.

The Medoran Chronicles has been an exceptional young adult fantasy series and it ends with a climax that has been worth the wait. Watch out for more titles from Lynette Noni, including her other novel, Whisper. She’s a name you’ll be proud to say you’ve known from the beginning of her career.

  • The Fast 800

  • Australian and New Zealand Edition
  • By: Dr. Michael Mosley
  • Narrated by: Dr. Michael Mosley
  • Length: 3 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 242
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 203
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 201

Six years ago, Dr. Michael Mosley started a health revolution with The 5.2 Fast Diet, telling the world about the incredible power of intermittent fasting. In this audiobook, he brings together all the latest science (including a new approach: time-restricted eating) to create an easy-to-follow programme. Recent studies have shown that 800 calories is the magic number when it comes to successful dieting - it’s an amount high enough to be manageable but low enough to speed weight loss and trigger a range of desirable metabolic changes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've lost 9kg in 6 weeks. It works!

  • By Rod on 12-03-2019

I've lost 9kg in 6 weeks. It works!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-03-2019

The market is flooded with diet books, healthy living gurus and the like, so it can be difficult to weed through what is worth your time. We’re all individual with unique needs, lifestyles and metabolisms too, each adding to the difficulty of finding the right weight loss path.
The Fast 800 is now my quintessential bible of weight loss. Having dropped 9kg in 6 weeks, the principles and ideas discussed in the book are simple, easy to follow and have provided the motivation that I needed to begin my own weight loss journey.
Dr Michael Mosley is articulate and engaging as he breaks down many of the common diets, discusses the fallacies that have entered into our belief system, and uses science to demystify calories, metabolism, habits and fasting.
The Fast 800 plan promotes a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) which focusses on the nutritional value of what we consume. He provides examples of why this is more beneficial and sustainable than simple calorie counting, and how it is a healthier way for the body to lose weight.
His plan is in three phases – rapid weight loss, an updated version of his original 5:2 fasting diet and finally, a maintenance phase to keep the weight off.
Ever practical, Dr Mosley promotes flexibility and the consumption of healthy food but does not exclude the use of meal replacement shakes for those who are time-poor or struggle with cravings or other food issues. He provides ample recipes by Dr Clare Bailey and some meal plans to keep within the 800-calorie range. The audiobook of The Fast 800 comes with an accompanying PDF of the recipes, ensuring readers have access to the same information at their fingertips.
Much of what Dr Mosley speaks about can be heard in other books of a similar ilk – forming habits, giving in to cravings, the need to exercise and watch what we eat, and so on. It’s his staged approach and his well-thought out guidance that makes things clear and easy to follow. For me, his plan has resulted in rapid weight loss with no hunger, few cravings, and a lot of energy despite the low-calorie intake.
As with all diets and exercise programs, consult your doctor first, but after my own ongoing success, this is a definite meal plan worth considering.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation

  • By: Michael Matthews
  • Narrated by: Michael Matthews
  • Length: 5 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28

The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation is fitness expert Mike Matthews' personal, practical blueprint for radical transformation, inside and outside the gym. It contains practical scientific research, compelling stories, and time-proven tactics that will help you discover and tap into the inner strength you need to take control of your body and life. If you really take these lessons to heart, you might just enter a new, transformative period of your life and discover that you're capable of far more than you ever thought possible.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surprising

  • By Anonymous User on 09-12-2018

Motivational, practical and interesting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-10-2018

The myth of the self-made man is one of the fables challenged as Michael Matthew narrates his own book about motivation. The lesson, like most of his research, is as applicable to life in general as it is to hitting the gym.

Matthews analyses the age-old challenge of motivation using evidence-based knowledge instead of marketing hype. His audiobook is accompanied by additional resources, tools, a reference guide, meal plans and more that can be downloaded from a URL mentioned in the book.

He’s a great motivational speaker and instils trust in the listener after the first 10 minutes of self-promotion and praise. Once you get past the self-indulgent opening, Matthew’s ideas begin to shine. He sets out and succeeds in showing that health and fitness is a lot simpler to obtain than some industry bodies would like us to believe.

His focus is on principles, not processes, because a process that works for one person may not work for another. The emotional and psychological benefits of short-term gratification, the psychology of advertising, and the power of formulating, prioritising and accomplishing your own goals are all open for discussion. At heart, this is a book that helps us to understand ourselves better, and the things that make us tick.

Matthews is a positive and encouraging influencer who acknowledges that no one achieves anything alone. The importance of giving, sharing and being accountable is as important as it is to reach out for help. He discusses the 40% rule too – the belief that when you think you are done, you have only reached 40% of what you’re actually capable of.

There’s a plethora of self-help, motivational and workout books flooding the marketplace but this one stands out because of Matthew’s refreshingly positive attitude that goes beyond a simple can-do pep talk. His personal experiences, combined with research, adds additional dimensions that encourages the listener and helps them push beyond their self-imposed limitations.

  • The Power of Hope

  • By: Kon Karapanagiotidis
  • Narrated by: Kon Karapanagiotidis
  • Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

A powerful, heartfelt, and inspiring memoir from one of Australia's leading human rights advocates, Kon Karapanagiotidis, The Power of Hope tells the story of how Kon overcame his traumatic childhood of racism, bullying, and loneliness to create one of Australia's largest and best-loved human rights organisations, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which has gone on to transform the lives of thousands of refugees and has helped build a movement.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful book

  • By Lynne on 13-12-2018

Powerful, inspirational and very personal

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-08-2018

Kon Karapanagiotidis has survived a life of bullying, body image issues, loneliness and racism but he uses that ongoing struggle to find his own inner peace, and to inspire and guide others. Since discovering the writings of Dr Martin Luther King as a young boy, he has been moved to dedicate his life to helping others and to stand up for what is right. In doing so, he had become a justice warrior and one of Australia’s leading lights for the protection of those less fortunate. In his first book, an autobiography, Karapanagiotidis shares his experiences and shows the way to stay motivated and hopeful in the darker times of our own life.

The Power of Hope is inspirational for various reasons, not least being the depth of vulnerability Karapanagiotidis reveals within himself. He speaks of the love and hardships within his family, including difficult parental relations. He speaks of justice and injustice, self-acceptance and integrity.

Karapanagiotidis is perhaps best known as the founder and leader of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Victoria, which has become Australia’s largest non-government funded support service for asylum seekers. It has become a centre for support and learning. Karapanagiotidis’ dedication to humanity doesn’t end there however. He speaks openly about our moral duty to protect and change across a range of vital issues including violence against women, sexual abuse against both genders, our indigenous communities, LGBTIQ people and racism.

He acknowledges the struggles not just within minorities groups, but for individuals from all groups and, not least of all, himself. He openly confesses his own demons but, through each issue or story, he comes back to finding hope, being a better person, evolving humanity, and fostering understanding and compassion.

Issues of masculinity lead to his views on how we need to teach boys about consent and our peers about inequality and rape culture. He discusses hard national statistics that are likely to shock the uninformed. And he tells amazing stories of people coming together, their desire to help, and how the smallest of everyday gestures can make a huge difference. His tale of a single tweet resulting in over 250 pizzas being delivered to a hospital for protesters picketing to save Baby Asha from deportation back in 2016 is one of many heart-warming stories.

Karapanagiotidis narrates his own audiobook. The passion and power in his soothing voice is sure to generate tears from anger, love and visions of a better tomorrow. The Power of Hope delivers on its title. His stories are all inspirational, as is the man himself.

For anyone seeking a better life for themselves, their children, their community or humanity, The Power of Hope is mandatory listening.

  • The Islamic Republic of Australia

  • By: Sami Shah
  • Narrated by: Sami Shah
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

From hijabs to jihad and everything in between - Muslims down under today. What is Halal? A country bordering Shariahland, or a method of preparing food? Do the Five Pillars of Islam comply with modern building codes? Or are they simply a philosophy for living? And if Muslims first arrived in Australia as early as 1800, can they go back to where they came from? In this funny and informative exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah takes us behind the stereotypes....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!

  • By Kelly on 12-01-2019

Should be mandatory listening

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-08-2018

There are few books I thoroughly enjoy that I would also deem to be mandatory reading but this is one of them.

Comedian Sami Shah is a former Muslim who let’s rip on the Islam faith, calling out what’s great and not-so-great about the religion he was born into. He doesn’t hold back and is unapologetic for expressing his understanding and views on extremism, misogyny, cultural pressures and hypocrisy. Nor does he hold back shaming the ignorance of bigots who can’t comprehend that there are numerous Islamic denominations, just as there are in the Christendom, and that Muslims are the primary target of extremists, not racist Aussies.

It sounds like a tough, confronting listen, and for many, it may be. It will confirm some beliefs we hold and dispel others. But Shah is not just an educator. He’s an award-winning Australian stand-up comedian who hailed from Pakistan until migrating Down Under. He has a way with words that entertains as much as educates. The Islamic Republic of Australia is a fun, funny lesson about one of the most misunderstood and ostracised religions of our day.

His schooling delves into the similarities between the stories of the Quran and Holy Bible. He gets a female perspective on the burqa and other headwear, while also expressing his own opinion on the matter. He openly names which denomination and which countries are behind the terrorism that hits our headlines. He talks about why he left the faith, and the wide range of responses, from praise to death threats, that he’s received from Muslims about his comedy routines.

The Islamic Republic of Australia began as a 5-part series for Radio National’s Ear Shots program before evolving into Shah’s exceptionally good book. Regardless of whether you fear Muslims, welcome them, or don’t give its followers a second thought, this is absolutely mandatory to open your mind to the truths and fallacies that bombard us from all sides.

Shah reads the unabridged audiobook himself and his acclaimed stage experience shines through. He’s articulate, passionate, forthright and droll. It’s rare for me to find a non-fiction title hard to put down but I plowed through The Islamic Republic of Australia in just over a day. It’s his combination of wow-factor and laugh-out-loud moments that make this exposé a winner.

  • The Happiest Refugee

  • By: Anh Do
  • Narrated by: Anh Do
  • Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 703
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 641
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 648

The laugh-out-loud, reach-for-your-hanky story of one of Australia's best-loved comedians. Anh Do nearly didn't make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing - not murderous pirates nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days - could quench their desire to make a better life in a country where freedom existed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fabulous

  • By Anonymous User on 09-04-2018

Masterful storytelling

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-08-2018

Popular Australian comedian, Anh Do, arrived in Australia by boat as a child, his family fleeing Vietnam to seek asylum. His story could be one of fear and despair or a tried and true tale of rags to riches. Instead, Anh Do focusses his autobiography on family, life and love, in particular for his mother.

With a flair for good humour, Anh Do narrates his own book, which does contain elements of the other themes as we follow him from kid to comedian, but his family stays up front and centre for most of that journey.

He’s a masterful storyteller, sprinkling dark memories of pirates attacking their boat with whimsical stories of Siamese fighting fish falling in love. As expected, there is a lot of humour to be found amongst his reminiscences of growing up, changing countries and choosing his career path. It seems he’s been a bit of a larrikin and an optimist all of his life!

Anh’s style is personable and real, making the touching recollections more heartfelt and the tense times more frightening. He reads as though he’s talking directly to you and there is often a smile in his voice which makes him utterly engaging.

Those who don’t know Anh Do’s comedy or style are in for an extra treat by being introduced to the man through his unique life story. It’s an education in itself of life in Vietnam and Australia’s attitudes back then, both so vastly different to now.

For existing fans of Anh Do, he does not disappoint. His autobiography is everything one could hope for, to help us understand the man and his background. Even so, his narration is the greatest bonus to The Happiest Refugee because it’s his own story that he’s lifting off the page.

Despite Anh Do’s current success and his treacherous journey to Australia, his tale is relatable because of the way he frames it. He’s not a name-dropper or someone trying to impress. His goal, which he succeeds at very well, is to bring the listener along with him, allowing us to experience all the happiness, fear, affection and inspiration that motivates him.

Like AB Facey’s autobiography, A Fortunate Life, which has become a classic of Australian literature, The Happiest Refugee has the potential to shine the light on a more recent era of Australian history and provide an insight into finding hope and happiness from the ashes of what’s come before. Both books are equally inspirational and deserving of your attention.

  • Crazy Rich Asians

  • By: Kevin Kwan
  • Narrated by: Lynn Chen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 825
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 736
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 733

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she might one day marry.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surpassed my expectations!

  • By Anonymous User on 29-07-2018

Singlish at its finest!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-2018

I don’t know how I’d go reading the book of Crazy Rich Asians because of the strong use of Singlish (Singaporean English) but listening to the audiobook is damn funny! Lynn Chen’s reading of Kevin Kwan’s bitchy romantic comedy is priceless.

Over the years, I’ve heard a few of my Singaporean friends joke about the intricacies of Singlish, with their quirky colloquialisms and use of “lah” at the end of so many sentences. It’s difficult to mimic correctly, particularly with the added lyricism of a Chinese accent, so hearing it in full swing is half the fun of this audiobook, even for the uninitiated.

Crazy Rich Asians follows the misfortunes of Rachel Chu, an ABC (American-Born Chinese), who travels to Singapore with her long-time boyfriend for his best friend's wedding. There, she finds herself ill-prepared for the excessively wealthy lifestyle of her boyfriend’s family and friends. While Rachel struggles to fit in and get her head around ways of the obscenely rich, she faces conniving friends and an equally unaccepting matriarch out to destroy her relationship.

There are subplots about a cheating husbands and money grabs, with expected themes of family, friendship, racism, personal priorities and trust. Central to the plot is also the popular fantasy of unexpectedly coming into ridiculous wealth – the kind of fantasy that spawned 1980s American soap operas like Dynasty.

Crazy Rich Asians is more than just chick-lit though. It’s a highly enjoyable culture shock, introducing us to various aspects of Singaporean culture through the eyes of Chinese Singaporeans, who make up more than 75% of the island nation’s population. Granted, as the title suggests, it focusses on a very small percentage of that ethnic majority but, going by Kwan’s representation of them, they’re the fun bunch! His privileged characters are all distinct and loveable, even if you find yourself loving to hate them.

Lynn Chen’s magnificent narration really brings these characters to life. Their personalities, unique speech patterns and their crazy, passionate viewpoints are all beautifully and often comically realised.

A film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians is being released later this month which I look forward to seeing, but it will be hard pressed to top Chen’s stellar narration. The unabridged audiobook was released exclusively by Audible in October 2015 although it has recently been re-released more broadly as a movie tie-in edition (same audiobook, different cover image). It is well worth a listen.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Boy Swallows Universe

  • By: Trent Dalton
  • Narrated by: Stig Wemyss
  • Length: 16 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,160
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,065
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,070

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hard to press stop!

  • By Anonymous User on 08-10-2018

Stunning narration of a great book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-2018

Listening to Stig Wemyss narrate is like indulging in a full-cast audio play. He is extraordinary to hear, able to create unique characters that reflect tone, voice, age, accent and gender.

In Boy Swallows Universe, we already have a story that is being hailed as Australia’s next great novel, and when it’s brought to life so vividly and expertly by one of Australia’s great narrators, you have a sure-fire winner.

The book is a semi-autobiographical account of author Trent Dalton’s youth, centring around 10-year-old Eli Bell, growing up in the seedier side of Brisbane, circa 1983. He lives with his drug-addicted mother and step-father, the former who is soon to be imprisoned. His older brother, August, is purposefully silent, his babysitter was a convicted murderer, and his best friends are the real-life escapologist and “Houdini of Boggo Road”, Slim Halliday, and a pen-pal he’s made with a hardened prisoner still serving time.

It sounds dismal, but in the eyes of a child, happiness, imagination and wonder have a way of creeping in, making Boy Swallows Universe a surprisingly positive story. Dalton’s poetic prose lifts Eli’s life from the slums into a curious and often entertaining world and his characters display deep affection in their own ways. Events which should be horrific, are not, for example when Eli, lacking any positive role models in his life, is taken under the wing of a hardened drug dealer. Yes, there are darker elements to that relationship, but it also provides a human connection that he has been lacking.

These are the formative years of Eli’s life and yet he moves through them with a sense of romance and an instinctive appreciation of life.

Dalton is a multi-award-winning journalist and Wemyss has had a long and impressive career as an audiobook narrator since his days on the Col’n Carpenter television sitcom. It’s a perfect match. While Dalton’s novel may deserve the accolades it’s receiving internationally, so too, should this stellar audiobook of his work.

  • After On

  • A Novel of Silicon Valley
  • By: Rob Reid
  • Narrated by: Sean Kenin, January LaVoy, Felicia Day, and others
  • Length: 22 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 56

Meet Phluttr - a diabolically addictive new social network and a villainess, heroine, enemy, and/or bestie to millions. Phluttr has ingested every fact and message ever sent to, from, and about her innumerable users. Her capabilities astound her makers - and they don't even know the tenth of it. But what's the purpose of this stunning creation? Is it a front for something even darker and more powerful than the NSA?

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • yawn

  • By Ant OSullivan on 15-04-2018

Engaging

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-06-2018

There have been many tales told about Artificial Intelligence (AI) gone wild, the most infamous probably being the Hal-9000 from Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the Skynet rebellion of the Terminator film franchise. It was with some hesitation therefore that I entered the world of modern day Silicon Valley for another foray into AI development.

Rob Reid has, thankfully, taken the idea of self-learning machines in a refreshingly new direction in the guise of Phluttr, a social network AI that has taken the world by storm. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and, as Phluttr’s self-awareness and power increases, she surpasses even her creators’ best hopes and begins to interfere in people’s lives with devastating consequences. Unable to predict the long-term effects of an event, nor understand the complexities of group dynamics, Phluttr’s child-like innocence begins to create havoc and threaten civilisation itself.

The stellar cast of actors comprise Sean Kenin, January LaVoy, Felicia Day, Patrick Rothfuss, John Hodgman, Tom Merritt, Jesse Cox and Leo Laporte. This is not a dramatization but a story told from a range of viewpoints, including that of the AI itself, her developers, and others in the industry.

Reid adds a lot of comedic touches to his storytelling, although I wouldn’t list it as a comedy per se. He also avoids the histrionics of action scenes so often found in these kinds of tales. He effectively builds tension when it’s needed but primarily provides a dramatic inside scoop into the machinations of Silicon Valley while almost telling a family drama. It’s an odd combination that works beautifully. After On is engaging, funny, exciting and interesting.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Only Child

  • By: Rhiannon Navin
  • Narrated by: Kivlighan De Montebello
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken 19 lives. In the aftermath of the shooting, the close-knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach's father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice - while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Harrowing

  • By Rod on 26-06-2018

Harrowing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-06-2018

Rhainnon Navin’s harrowing novel is not only timely, but a sometimes-difficult glimpse into the world of a child who lives through and survives a school massacre. As the school goes into lockdown, the sounds of a gun popping through the hallways terrifies the children and their saviour teacher, Miss Russell.

In the immediate aftermath, six-year-old Zach witnesses the arrival of police, the panicked parents, the lack of news and then, slowly, the growing list of the dead and the news that the shooter was a fellow student.

The long-term devastation rips families and friendships apart and we experience it all through the confusion of Zach’s eyes, who tells the story with the voice of narrator Kivlighan De Montebello. His storytelling skills defy his young years.

Navin’s novel is insightful, tender and terrifying. Her ability to capture the world around her from the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t always understand is both heartbreaking and gripping. The opening scenes of the shooting, told from Zach’s hiding place in a cupboard, is just as terrifying as it would have been facing the gunman. Like a proverbial train wreck, it’s difficult to stop ploughing through Navin’s story, witnessing the damage unfolding and the adults around Zach struggling to cope in ways that make no sense to him. Zach too, fails to understand his own reactions: his anger, his sadness, his extreme reactions…

De Montebello is equally exceptional. This young actor, whose film debut was only 4 years ago, provides a poignant reading that encapsulates every emotion. He breathes life into Navin’s text, creating vivid images of each scene. We understand and believe in him and the people around him.

The subject matter of Navin’s debut novel may be too close to home for some, but it outstrips many thrillers even without action scenes.