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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Narrated by: John W. Michaels
Length: 1 hr and 2 mins

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic short story of a man born in his 70s who ages backward as those around him age in the normal direction. Both humorous and heartbreaking at times, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was the basis for the David Fincher movie of the same name, though the movie differs in several key ways from Fitzgerald's original story.

Public Domain (P)2012 Michael D Vendetti

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  • bookpurring
  • 11-08-12

Great short story

The story: I am familiar with the movie adaptation which I really enjoyed, so I dived into this audiobook with some idea of the main plot and with the purpose to discover the differences. Not surprisingly the main difference is that the movie version focuses and romanticizes Benjamin and Hildegarde's relationship a lot more (Daisy in the movie). C'est l'Hollywood. Even knowing the main plot I found myself entertained and touched by the idea of this story. No matter where you start old or young you seem to end up the same way, it's fascinating and it makes you think. I like books that make you think. The story is short and to the point, there was not a time where I felt it was dragging out and my attention wandered.

The audiobook: I found Michael's voice is very strong and pleasant, there was a distinct echo to the recording but after the first 20 minutes I did not noticed it. The pacing of the reading was perfect, not to fast or slow. There is no need for a lot of voice variations since there aren't many characters that need to be voiced, but I thought Michael's did a good job with young Benjamin Button as well.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • 23-02-13

The Narration Gets in the Way of the Story

I’m a little at a loss here. I’m not too keen on writing negative reviews, but I know it has to happen. How can I consider myself an honest blogger otherwise? Still, I’m nicer than I’d like to think I am. I don’t want to be a bitch or upset anyone. I like it when things are smooth sailing. That being said, this is going to be an experiment in writing a negative review without being mean.

I requested this audio edition of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from the Solid Gold Reviewer program at Audiobook Jukebox. It’s a story I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get it under my belt. I hate that I was so disappointed by this audiobook, but since I am the one who requested it, I feel I should give my opinion. I think it’s only fair to say that my experience with the narration itself took a lot away from the story. I don’t feel that I can be fair to the book itself, so most of this will deal instead with the narration. I have already checked out an e-book copy so I can re-read the book with fresh eyes and give it a fair review.

I’m going to do something a little different and that’s answer questions. I, being completely anal retentive, have a review guide that I use in case I’m at a loss and I need a little push to get my thoughts flowing. With audiobook narration, I ask myself these simple questions: Does the narrator embody the characters? Are the voices and accents appropriate and consistent? Does the narrator make me feel as if the events in the book are occurring as I’m listening? Does the narrator pay good attention to punctuation, emphasis, and flow? When I ask myself those questions it’s easier to determine if my like or dislike of a narrator are due to the story-telling practices or my own personal taste.

Let’s start with characters. While I have to admit John Michaels was consistent with the voices, I also wish there had been a more pronounced difference in them. I think he was held back by his own voice in that respect. That’s not to say that character voices are always important, but I think this story lends itself to that kind of narration. Mostly, I just didn’t feel that he embodied the characters. There wasn’t an emotional investment in what the characters were saying and doing, and that’s an extremely important skill if you want to be a successful voice actor.

I was also disappointed by the awkward delivery. Sometimes he said things slowly, sometimes he blew through them, and sometimes there were strange pauses in the middle of words. It almost sounded as if he was struggling to get the words out. That totally distracted me from the story itself and from having a feeling of being inside the story (which is the entire reason I love audio). On top of those complaints, his voice just wasn’t to my liking.

I think it’s safe to say that I was thoroughly disappointed by this audiobook. The narration completely distracted me from the story. Let me stress that this rating is for this audiobook edition and not the story itself.