Audiobook Rating: 4.5 stars
Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Narrator: Kevin R. Free
Length: 9 hours, 34 minutes
For years I have been hearing nothing but wonderful things about Something Like Summer by Jay Bell. So when Bell offered me a chance to review the audiobook, I jumped at the opportunity to check out this story for myself.
Since we have already reviewed this on the blog, I am not going to do a full scale review of the book here. Check out Crissy’s review or our reader Book I Love post if you want all the details. But here is my quick and dirty. This story follows Benjamin Bentley from the time he is a 16-year-old high school student over about 12 years. We watch teenage Ben falling in love with Tim Wyman on those hot Texas summer nights. And we are with him through heartbreak, future loves, and figuring out who he is and what he wants from his life. Along the way we see how Ben and Tim are forever intertwined, moving in and out of each other’s lives, and the impact of that first love on both of them.
This story is powerful and just beautifully written. Bell manages to make us feel the joy and the pain right along with Ben. His POV feels authentic when he is 16 and continues to grow with him until he is in his late 20s. The first part of the book focuses on Ben and Tim in high school and it is my favorite, mostly because of the intensity of emotion. Ben is so earnestly in love and feels everything so incredibly deeply. The story isn’t always easy, as Ben faces a lot of challenges along the way. He falls in love with a boy who is just not ready to be in love with another boy, and it is painful. But there is also hope and love and a lot of beauty in the story. I truly loved it and can’t wait to continue on with the series.
I really enjoyed listening to this story on audiobook. It is narrated by Kevin R. Free and he does an amazing job of creating Ben’s voice. It is a tricky balance, because when the story starts Ben is only 16. So we want his voice not to sound too much like a grown adult. At the same time, this is a romance and Ben is sexually active, so we certainly don’t want him to sound like a child either. Free strikes the perfect balance between the two and really captures Ben’s spoken voice and inner monologue very well. Free also manages to give Ben and Tim distinct voices from one another and I could easily tell who was talking during a scene.
Other highlights for me were Allison, Ben’s best friend. The narrator makes her sound feminine without sounding fake. It really brought her to life and I had a great picture in my head of Allison just from listening to her voice. I also really liked how Free voices Allison’s father. He is a character full of anger and hostility and that really comes out in the narration. Some of the voices were less successful to me. Free has a tendency to give the “bad guys” almost cartoonish voices, so over exaggerated as to not seem real. The biggest example was Tim’s girlfriend Krista. She is described as having a squealing voice, but again, it is was just so fake sounding compared to how real and vibrant most of the other voices were. I had a hard time even listening to her. The same holds true for one of Ben’s bullies, Bryce. I just think in an attempt to convey how awful these guys were, Free goes a little overboard.
The audiobook is divided into two parts and it downloaded quickly and easily. The chapter breaks are clear and part of the narration. However, I did at times have trouble with the section breaks between chapters. In the book presumably there is a break in the text to show a new section, but in the narration there is often not enough of a pause to indicate a section break. So there were times when it took me a bit to catch up that we had a change in scene.
But overall I thought this was incredibly well done. The story is fabulous and the audiobook kept me engaged even over almost two weeks of listening on and off. I would definitely highly recommend this story, both in book and audio version. It is sweet and romantic and a little heartbreaking and just captures that feeling of young love I adore so much.