Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Kevin R. Free
Length: 13 hours, 39 minutes
Spoiler Alert: Something Like Winter is a companion novel to Something Like Summer with many overlapping plot points. As a result, this review will have spoilers for events in that first book.
Since we have already reviewed this on the blog, I am not going to do a full scale review of Something Like Winter. Check out Jay’s review if you want all the details. But here is a very brief synopsis of the story.
Tim Wyman’s family moves from Kansas mid way through Tim’s high school career, which for most high schoolers would be a traumatic event, but for Tim, it was the perfect timing, a chance to reinvent himself in Texas. Tim meets Ben Bentley by accident and the two become unlikely friends and eventually lovers. Ben, the out and proud teen and Tim, the popular closet case, experience tension, frustration, and anger during their year-long affair, but interspersed with the bad, was love and a lot of good. Tim’s attempts to maintain the facade of being someone he isn’t catches up to him and the pressure from Ben to come out is too much, and he dumps Ben and disappears from school, only to turn up years later, an apparently “out” young man intent on recapturing Ben, the love of his life. Now, Tim is getting a taste of his own medicine, regretting his past actions in high school Back then, Ben was the pursuer, Tim the pursued, and the role reversal from the past to present just proves that karma really is a bitch.
Something like Winter is like coming home to an old friend, and finding them better company than before you left. To most high school students, moving to a new state and starting over would be the thing of nightmares, but not for Tim Wyman. Tim is such a sad, conflicted soul, trying to live his life for others, always doing what he feels is best, sometimes forgetting that there will be consequences for his unilateral decisions.
The narrator, Kevin R. Free, did an excellent job of vocalizing both Tim and Ben and I was particularly impressed with how Kevin addressed the voice of Allison, Ben’s best friend. Free managed to convey everything I thought she was with his tone, attitude, and perfect intonation. Since the story takes us through 12 years of Tim’s life, I expected to hear some change, even if it was slight in how Free vocalized Tim, but I did not. What I did hear was a change in Tim’s diction, which demonstrated his growth. Free did do a great job of conveying Tim’s emotions, especially during Tim’s college years and beyond. Tim was tortured by his past, and showed desperation for his present and future, and the pain sounded authentic and Tim’s conniving came through clearly in his tone.
In Something about Summer, I found Ben to be a pushy, annoying brat with a sense of entitlement and at times self-righteous. Now hearing the story from Tim’s perspective, although Ben’s voice was consistent with what we heard in Something Like Summer, the tone was completely different, which effectively showed how Tim heard Ben versus how Ben heard himself. That Free was able to take the same character, and subtly change how he sounded without changing how he spoke was incredible, and actually made me like Ben’s character in Something Like Winter when I really was not fond of him in Something Like Summer.
There were so many characters in Something Like Winter that the quality and believability of some of those secondary characters became an issue for me. Tim’s mother and father were well done, although I would have liked to see more depth from them, especially his mother, as the big gay showdown was lacking emotion other than Tim’s. Free’s portrayal of Tim’s grandmother in Mexico City was cute and surprisingly believable, though. I also thought Krista was too sappy and soft-spoken compared to the descriptions we had of her, and that Ryan’s affectation sounded like a “stereotypical” spoiled young, gay man. I also have to say that Marcello’s voice was spot on and I loved how he would just appear and in a calm, cool tone express himself in a way that indicated his impromptu arrival was the most natural thing in the world.
I definitely give Free props for taking on such a large, and diverse cast of characters and even though we lost the characterization at times, overall, Free did a good job at a maintaining consistency, not just within the book, but so far, within the series. I look forward to Something Like Autumn and Something Like Spring, and trust that Free will be back to provide his expertise and knowledge of the characters in these audiobooks as well.