Narrated by Alison Larkin
I’m a big fan of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series but was disappointed to learn that Faye Adele had been replaced as narrator. That disappointment increased as I began listening to the book. I had problems with both the narration and the story.
This feels different than earlier series entries. Much of the world-building is in the background. Whereas Maggie described the last entry, Heart of Steel, as a “straight out adventure story” with almost non-stop action, Riveted focuses on character development. Instead of a quick, fiery romance, there’s a slowly developing friendship and eventual relationship.
Annika, an engineer on the airship Phateon, comes from an unusual remote village in Iceland made up solely of women. Annika left home four years earlier in search of her sister Kalla, who ran away after taking the blame for something Annika did. Annika is an interesting heroine; she’s tough, independent, and a whiz with all things mechanical. Her work on the Phateon allows her to travel the world in search of her sister.
David Kentewess is also on a quest, and believes he’s found a key in Annika. When David hears Annika speak, her unusual “bird” accent reminds him of his dead mother. David’s looked for his mother’s people for years and believes that in Annika, he’s found them. And that “bird” accent, as depicted by Ms. Larkin, gave me major problems. When Annika speaks, Ms. Larkin frequently gives her a childish, high-pitched voice, making it hard for me to take Annika seriously. I say frequently, because many characters’ voices are rendered in an inconsistent manner. At times Annika sounds almost normal, with a bit of a mysterious accent. At other times she sounds as if she’s a child.
This isn’t my only problem with the narration. While I didn’t have problems understanding who was speaking when it was just Annika and David, in some multi-male scenes, I had problems figuring out which man was speaking.
I really wanted to like Riveted. David is a wonderful tortured hero. He’s bright, with an interesting occupation as a volcanologist. He’s had a difficult past and is composed of large parts metal and nano agents. Neither Annika nor David fit in anywhere, but gradually, oh so gradually, they come to fit with each other. The romance moves very slowly as David and Annika get to know each other, slowly become friends, and only eventually lovers. Despite being intrigued by both Annika and David, something is off for me, not just with the narration, but with the book itself.
I did something I’ve never done before with a review audiobook, and went back and relistened to the first five hours before writing the review. While I still love both David and Annika, this just feels long to me. And large parts of it sound preachy regarding same-sex relationships and tolerance. The situations Ms. Brook set up are interesting, but often come off as boring.
In the end, my feelings are mixed. I’ll stick with the series, but if Alison Larkin is the narrator, I’ll switch to print for the next entry.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: C- and Book Content: C