Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Kai Rubio
Length: 9 hours, 21 minutes
I absolutely loved Chrysalis when I read it last year, and the book (and its follow up) made it onto my Best of 2021 list. So needless to say, I was super excited when I saw the book was available in audio and couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. I am a huge fan of amnesia stories and this one takes a particularly fun approach. Christian Cross wakes up in the hospital, having barely survived being shot in the head. He has no idea who he is, who shot him, or why someone would want him dead. What makes this a fun twist on the trope is that Christian is our sole POV character, and he has some major secrets — secrets he has been keeping from everyone, including the man he loves. So unlike many amnesia stories, we don’t have an alternate narrator who can help explain to the character, or to us as readers, what is going on. Instead, we get to find out what is happening right along with Christian and it is a wild, crazy, and thrilling ride. I don’t want to give anything away, because learning the truth is so exciting and fascinating (and horrifying). But it gives this story a wonderful sense of suspense as we learn all of Christian’s secrets as he uncovers them.
I also really love Christian paired with Dr. Grayson Laurie, the love of his life. The two have a rocky start, but they are just so perfect together. The men balance each other out, and as we learn more about his past, it is clear that for all the trouble Christian has found himself in, his love for Gray is what really grounds him.
This story is the first part of a duology, which finishes up in Cross (and the audio for that one is on the way soon). So you are going to want to read these as a set, though I do think Harmon ends this one at just the right point to tie some things together and lead into the next story. For more details, check out my original review of Chrysalis (but don’t the review for Cross yet unless you want spoilers for this book).
Kai Rubio was the narrator for this story and I think he did a nice job. Rubio gets the tone and pacing right and picks up on Christian’s humor and sarcasm. The audio has the right energy to fit the story and I found it a really enjoyable listen. That said, Rubio’s voice wasn’t quite a perfect match for how I imagine Christian, as Rubio has a rich, almost melodic voice and Christian feels a little rougher to me, with a more sarcastic edge. Though that is really my interpretation of the character rather than an inaccuracy on Rubio’s part. I do think Rubio’s voice fits much more with Gray’s more genteel and refined side. I will say that while Christian and Gray have different voices from one another, the various side characters often sounded quite similar (and often sounded a lot like Gray) and character voices tended to not be totally consistent throughout. I also think this book has a particular challenge in that Christian has a lot of internal snarky narration, which is hard to convey through audio, versus through formatting cues when reading the text. I think Rubio handles this quite well, and most of the time I felt I could tell whether Christian was speaking aloud or thinking it in his head. But it does make this book a little difficult to translate to audio format. All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this story in audio and was eager to listen every chance I got. So while I had some quibbles with the narration, I can solidly recommend it in audio format and will be listening to book two soon.
If you like suspense stories, particularly with a bit of a futuristic/sci fi vibe, or if you like snarky heroes or amnesia stories, Chrysalis is a fabulous choice. And if you like all of those things, run, don’t walk to check this one out. As I said, it was one of my favorite books last year and I highly recommend it in either format.