Title: 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!
I was trying to be nice but the narrator just didn't work for a novel that is mostly exposition. It's too bad really. I haven't researched the narrator to see if he has done anything else. Maybe he will get better with more experience?
Yes, it is definitely one that I think works better in print.
You are welcome! I do think this could have been a decent book, but the narrator just ruined it for me. It's unfortunate.
Ouch! Your review is in line with another we have received, and both of you write good reviews. It sounds like the narrator was a one trick pony, but needed a few more tricks to make this one work, at least based on the two reviews we have posted at the jukebox.
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This book sounds interesting, but I think I would rather read it than listen to it. It's too bad the experience was a bad one!
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Thank you so much for your honest review. I think all audio listeners agree that the narrator will make or break the experience. I absolutely agree with you that a good audiobook will bring the story to life, that it conveys emotion and and is truly "an experience".
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