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Book Cover Image: The Vaults by Toby BallTitle: The Vaults

Author: Toby Ball

Narrator: Michael Agostini

Audiobook Length: 9 hours, 5 minutes

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“At the height of the most corrupt administration in the City’s history, a mysterious duplicate file is discovered deep within the Vaults—a cavernous hall containing all of the municipal criminal justice records of the last seventy years. From here, the story follows: Arthur Puskis, the Vault’s sole, hermit-like archivist with an almost mystical faith in a system to which he has devoted his life; Frank Frings, a high-profile investigative journalist with a self-medicating reefer habit; and Ethan Poole, a socialist private eye with a penchant for blackmail. All three men will undertake their own investigations into the dark past and uncertain future of the City—calling into question whether their most basic beliefs can be maintained in a climate of overwhelming corruption and conspiracy.”

Thoughts: This is my first DNF ever, I think. Sadly, it is not because the story was poor. Rather, it was the narrator. Upon first listening, Mr. Agostini’s voice is perfectly suited to audio. It is not so low that it is difficult to hear, nor is it shrill. His voice is smooth and soothing. However, therein lies the problem. Mr. Agostini does not perform so much as read. What’s worse? He is reading in a relative monotone, with no real inflection, no spark of life. He is literally just reading the words on the page and not trying to imbibe them with any sense of action or emotion. It is a bit like listening to HAL, of 2001: A Space Odyssey, except even HAL has more inflection in his voice.

The story itself is rather intriguing. Described as a dystopian setting, the City is as ominous as it is nondescript. The characters are intriguing, especially the archivist as he leaves his comfort zone to solve the riddle of the duplicate file. Unfortunately, after listening for over two hours to the audiobook, I could listen no more. A good audiobook should bring the story to life. In my opinion, it should be about more than just the words on the pages but about the emotions and passions behind the words. The Vaults, as performed by Michael Agostini, sadly falls flat.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the Solid Gold Audiobook Reviewer Program and Iambik Audio for my review copy!

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