Friday, October 22, 2010

Ravens - George Dawes Green (Audio)

Probably about 6 months ago, I read a review on Ravens that inspired me to order the audiobook and load it onto my iPod. When I was recently browsing through my audio selections, looking for something that would work for the RIP Challenge, I saw this and had forgotten all about it. I had no clue what it was about, and for some reason thought it was YA (it is NOT by the way). I went into it blind, which is always kind of fun.

If I had to put this story in a category, it would be a psychological thriller, but is not your garden variety thriller by any means. Let me explain.

Synopsis: The Boatrights are just a notch above Georgia white trash. They are seriously strapped for cash, Momma is an alcoholic and plays the Lottery every week, Dad is a dried up holy roller, and their two kids are lost in the middle. Tara, their oldest college-age daughter, dreams of getting the hell out, and finds her only solace in her spunky Grandmother. Then one day, their dreams all come true - they win the $318 million jackpot.

Shaw and Romeo - old friends, toxic relationship, dead-end jobs - are heading to Florida for vacation when they learn about the jackpot winners at a local gas station. Shaw decides this is their chance to make it big, and holds the Boatwrights hostage by threatening their lives unless they share their winnings. The two young men immerse themselves in the small town, claiming to be long lost friends of the Boatwrights, claiming to be children of God, making emotional connections and inspiring awe and religious fervor. It is the ultimate con. Only one old, bumbling police officer doesn't buy the story, but can he rise above his nickname "Deputy Dawg" and do something about it?

While the con is occurring, strange emotional transformations begin to take place within the hearts of the players. Tara hates Shaw for what he is doing, so why does she get excited when she thinks about him? Romeo just wants to be a loyal friend to Shaw, but can he really kill these people if called upon to do so? Is Shaw really the sociopath that he seems to be? Is the $315 million a blessing or a curse? It all climaxes in a violent, unpredictable ending that leaves you feeling a little bit dizzy.

My thoughts: This is one complicated little yarn. Characterization in spades - these people are big and loud and flawed. Narration occurs throughout the book in a variety of voices, including Tara, her parents, Shaw, Romeo, the deputy, and other townspeople. This allows the reader to get down deep into the minds and psyche of some messed up folks. You begin to empathize with the bad guys, question the good guys, and multiple times I wondered where the heck this was all going, except south. As the story progresses, the pace accelerates, the heart beats faster, then BAM. It's over.

I was left with a very strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. Did I like it? I THINK so. I sure thought about it a long time. But the book presses your nose in alot of bitterness, greed, self-absorption, jealousy, fear...dark stuff. And despite a definitive end, I didn't get a sense there was going to be much sunshine in the lives of the affected for any time in the near future. As a reader, can you live with that?

A word about the audio production: Phenomenal. There was a female narrator assuming all of the female characters, as well as a male narrator for the men. The female, Maggi-Meg Reed (The Time Traveler's Wife, Prayers For Sale, Home), was deliciously southern and trashy. The male, Robert Petkoff (Beat the Reaper, Room, So Cold the River), was young and clipped and cold. Both are seasoned veterans in the audiobook world, and it showed.

4 out of 5 stars






21 comments:

Beth F said...

Oh wow. Sounds pretty intriguing. I like books that it is difficult to say you liked them because the subject or themes aren't very likeable. And the narrators are super. (hope you link this to Audiobook Jukebox if you haven't already [grin]).

Zibilee said...

I have heard about this book, but not with the level of detail that you brought to me in your review. It sounds like something I could really sink my teeth into and love. I love the weirdness and the darkness that you describe, and I am putting this one on my list right away! Thanks for the great review, Sandy!

bermudaonion said...

I liked this book a lot - the characters are so out there, yet believable somehow.

By the way, Maggi-Meg Reed reads Little Pink House as well and she does a fantastic job with that one. I'd send you my copy, but I lent it to someone and never got it back. :(

Nise' said...

I picked this up but have not read it yet. Now I wonder if I want to get it on audio instead. Great review.

The Bumbles said...

Hmmm - sounds like a Rob Zombie movie! Which is not a bad thing. I think I would have an easier time listening to this rather than reading it. My imagination tends to take over when I'm reading words to myself. And the dark stuff here would probably not effect me by listening or watching - it is when I am left in my head to my own devices that I get into trouble.

Kerry said...

Great review! I am thoroughly intrigued, indeed. Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

I read this but I can't really remember it apart from thinking it was different from what I expected. :)

Ti said...

Big, loud and flawed! All the makings of a good read.

Amy said...

This story sounds pretty interesting and hard to put down. I wonder if the paper book would be as good as the audio which sounds like it really brought the characters to light. I almost picked a copy up at the flea market this weekend & now I'm kicking myself that I didn't! You review makes me so curious as to what happens in this book!

Amy

Julie P. said...

I didn't read this one but my dad did. It sounded pretty interesting (and different.)

Iliana said...

You are right, sometimes going into a book not really knowing what's up is the best way to get into a story.

As I was reading your review I thought of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Have you read it? I had that same sense of strangeness after I finished it. Odd, vile characters and happenings yet you can't stop reading!

This one is on my list!

Jenners said...

I love going into a book cold and then having it be something like this. I remember seeing this around for awhile but didn't remember what it was about. Your review inspired me to add it to my list ... and I'll probably take forever to get around to it, forget what it is about, and have an experience similar to yours.

Melissa M said...

I love going into a book cold. That's how I try to do most of my reads, but it doesn't always work. Psychological thriller had my attention, but phenomenal audio production sold me!

Alyce said...

I like it when there are different voices for the male and female characters. Only rarely can a narrator do a great job on voices of the other gender.

Alice Teh said...

Ooooh... ooooooh..... oooooooh... this sounds just like my type of book. Time to get Amazon busy again. See if I could get this on Kindle...

Lenore said...

Oooh! Sounds like something I'd really enjoy reading. I'm always fascinated by tales of lottery winners and just how much bad luck they seem to have.

Anna said...

My husband really enjoyed the audio of this book. I couldn't get into it at all; I found the female narrator's voice to be too annoying. I still might read this book, though, as I've heard good things about it.

Serena said...

I really loved this audiobook when my husband and I listened to it. I loved it so much I passed it along to Anna's hubby!

I'm glad you enjoyed this one even though it leaves you wondering about some things and is very dark.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I have this on my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it! Glad to hear you "think" you liked it, he. I never know what to say of books that leave me with that kind of feeling but you did a great job on your review!

Kathleen said...

I can live with an ending like that and I think this came from my book club when I didn't send my slip back so I should have it somewhere on my shelves if I am not mistaken.

Anonymous said...

I've just finished reading this, my yorkshire puddings burned as I was near the end of the book and couldn't bear to stop reading.
I loved it, from beginning to end, loved the short chapters, the different perspectives, the suspense, the developing characters
- amazing!