Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts: The Child

The Child

by Sebastian Fitzek
Full cast audio drama by Audible
-- Robert Glenister || Book's Main Narrator
-- Rupert Penry-Jones || Robert Stern
-- Jack Boulter || Simon
-- Emilia Fox || Carina
-- Andy Serkis || Engler
-- Stephen Marcus || Andi Borchert

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

My name is Simon.  I’m 10 years old.  I’m a serial killer.

Robert Stern, a successful defense attorney, doesn’t know what lies in store for him when he agrees to meet a new client in a derelict estate on the outskirts of Berlin.  Stern is more than surprised, when his old love interest, professional nurse Carina presents him a ten year old boy as his new client.  Simon, a terminally ill child, who is convinced he has murdered many men in a previous life.

Stern's surprise quickly turns to horror as he searches the cellar Simon has directed him to and discovers the skeletal remains of a man, the skull split with an axe - just as Simon told him he would.  Things go from bad to worse within hours when Stern discovers more dead bodies, the investigating police officer Engler starts to chase him as a suspect in the murder cases, and his own past comes to haunt him.  Stern’s friend and former criminal Andi Borchert is the only one to believe Stern and Carina.  Hunted by the police, and led by Simon’s memories, they start to investigate shady sub cultures of Berlin, and soon discover things more gruesome than anything they could have imagined...

I can tell that the above summary was from, as it wants to show-case the characters and their voice actors--I went through and took out narrator names from the summary because I've already listed them above.  And then I had to edit the summary a little bit because some of the sentences were fragments that made no sense.

Anyway, enough of that...

I bought this audio book with an Audible credit when I first discovered that I could enjoy audio books.  After listening to my first audio book, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, an approximately 3-hour radio drama adaptation headed by James McAvoy (!!!) and Natalie Dormer, I went on a search for other full cast audio books, especially of the "audio drama" or "radio drama" persuasion--I thought sound effects would be a bonus.  I stumbled upon The Child, hemmed and hawed about purchasing it, but finally just did so--and there it sat in my Audible library for at least two years.

I figured it was high time I started going through my book shelves, and made myself include The Child in a must read list for 2017.  Also, I've been pretty into listening to audio books lately--it's nice to listen to a story unfolding while you multi-task: doing the laundry, cooking dinner, rearranging the bedroom, playing Minesweeper, etc...

Anyway, moving along... again.

I'm a big fan of crime thrillers, and truth be told, The Child was actually quite excellently executed in the mystery/thriller area.  I must admit, there were a few instances that made me feel extremely uncomfortable--instances I cannot mention, as those would be spoilers--but when those instances passed, I made myself move on.  Granted, I'm still conflicted about how I feel about how dark and gritty and squicky some of the events in the book had ended up getting, but overall, not a bad experience.

There were a lot of instances where the story employed the "cliff-hanging scene" method, which absolutely drives me crazy, especially if you already have an idea where that scene is headed, and the cut-off seems a little unnecessary.  There were also a few logic holes during the middle of the book that had me frowning a bit, not quite understanding why these logic holes weren't getting addressed, even at the end.

In truth, the characters were a bit hard to relate with, and I found myself a little more annoyed by some of their actions rather than intrigued.

The only other complaint I have is mainly for the audio book presentation.  While I love full cast performances, and, as I had stated above, sound effects are great inclusions, I found the quality of the sound effects a bit lacking in this audio drama.  It was a great effort, don't get me wrong.  Sound effects really DO add to the experience.  But unfortunately, a lot of the times the sound effects made it kind of difficult to discern what was being narrated, which you immediately see in the beginning of the book with the rain scene and the dialogue between Robert, Carina, and Simon--at times, I had to turn the sound up because I could barely make out the dialogue between our characters, but then that also increased the volume of the falling rain.

Then there was the creepy voice known as 'The Voice,' which was mechanized and sometimes kind of grainy sounding--I had a hard time figuring out The Voice's dialogue sometimes as well.  I won't deny that it DID give me a chill every time it spoke, though, which I kind of see as one of the things I enjoyed about this audio drama.

Some Final Thoughts:
While it may sound like I had a whole lot of complaints about this book, to be honest, I DID enjoy it enough to breeze through the entire 6+ hours of audio book within two days.  Of course, it might have also been because I'm in the middle of another book I'm not enjoying right now.  It might even have been because audio books are just great ways to pass the time when you just want to bask in a nice, passive activity while playing some computer games or folding your laundry.

But I won't deny that The Child is indeed an exciting crime thriller that, despite a few logic holes and snafus, was very well written, well presented, and well executed.

It indeed kept me guessing, although I'm not sure how I feel about the darker, more sinister turn that the book took towards the middle.  Don't get me wrong: I've read a lot of dark, heavy stuff in my lifetime.  I suppose I had just been expecting one story line, only to be blown away with a different twist.  And again, I'm not sure how I feel about that.

And I'm also not sure how I feel about the epilogue in which an exposition fairy explains to us a lot of things that probably didn't get a chance to be inserted into the actual story line itself.

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