Aladdin... In Space! - My review of The Sphere of Infinity
Just finished a quick 1 day listen of Marlies Dubois' narration of Day Letaio's novella The Sphere of Infinity - a retelling of Aladdin.
-No BIG surprises, but that's ok. When you market something as a retelling of a classic fairy tale, you owe it to the reader to follow it relatively closely. What I liked:
The writing was personal, but descriptive. Definitely aimed at a YA audience, the teen romance elements didn't make it more than just a little cheesy. Being a teen is part and parcel with cheesiness. The main Character, Alana (sp?) was engaging and interesting, but unique enough not to just be a knock off of Disney's knockoff of Aladdin. Making the Aladdin character a girl was a good move to drive to story a little differently. I also enjoyed that the "Jasmin" character had some depth to him. Having the Heroine & Hero be not "cookie cutter" handsome girl & boy was refreshing. As a teen I remember being very annoyed as a fairly scrawny guy with the majority of heros being big, muscular, tall dark & handsome. Jasper is most definitely not dark in the very least. Though the story was relativley short, I could tell that both Alana & Jasper were fully realized characters in the author's head. I also enjoyed that the Genie doesn't just out & out grant wishes, but instead has some kind of larger perception of the universe that allows her to give instructions on how someone can get their "wish" granted - It still takes work and a willingness to trust & follow directions.
On the Narration - Marlies Dubois does a good job with the dialogue & differntiating characters. The in between parts could use some work though. It felt like each sentence was just deposited independent of each other. Also, a longer break between paragraphs would help things not feel run on. It was like the paragraphs were stuck together almost more than the sentences were. Also, in her general narration, almost every sentence had the same cadence. Her reading was good, but it was the story that kept me listening much more than the narration. Also, there was a chapter that had some extra noise at the end, that if that & the timing were fixed, I'd rate it at 4 stars for narration. As it is, I'd do 3 stars. Not bad, but not great either. Would I listen to Ms. Dubois do another narration? Sure. Everybody has room for improvement, and seeing the number of titles under her belt, it looks like she's just getting started in narration. Not bad for a first attempt! In particular, when she was voicing Alana's inner thoughts, I felt she nailed it.
Would I read or listen to another book by Day Letaio? Definitely. 4 and 3/4 stars on the writing. I was a little disappointed at the end of the book that it was done. She crafted the world in such a way that I would love to experience more of it.
One last thought - I loved the cover. It captures the spirit of the book and whoever the artist is did a great job. Everybody judges a book by its cover & this one certainly caught my eye.