After a pair of good audiobooks, I listened to one this past week that left me questioning every car ride whether I really wanted to continue listening to it or just give up.
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter is a wildly popular first title in “The Gallagher Girls” series that tween and teen girls (and their adult parents!) are in love with. The series follows Cammie Morgan, who is a student at the all-girls Gallagher Academy — a super secret spy school in Virginia — as she effortlessly converses in many foreign languages and has mastered the classroom aspects of spying and espionage. But Cammie is hopeless when it comes to boys and when it comes to putting her spy training into real action.
When Cammie meets Josh in this book, she goes from star student to near failing after trying to see him and keep her lies straight about who she is. You see, no one but the students and staff know what the Gallagher Academy is, and Josh believes it’s just a private school for rich snooty students. When Cammie introduces herself to Josh, she doesn’t want to be seen as one of those girls and instead, she weaves an intricate web of lies about who she is and what she does all day. Of course the results are disastrous.
This is a very clean story, with a fast-paced story line and intriguing characters. I thought all of the spy elements were fun, and I thought that Cammie was a true-to-age character. With the audiobook rendition, I found the semi-voiced style effective, especially with the British accents throughout. I thought that the implementation of the foreign languages was also well done and added to the overall atmosphere of the spy/private school story. Although I’m not clamoring for the next titles in the series, I see why they are so appealing.
What this audiobook didn’t do, was deliver with a believable narrator. Renee Raudman was the reader, but she never once sounded like a high school sophomore to me, nor did she deliver a true voice for Cammie, a Virginian. More irritating that that, though, was the echo-chamber effect this book had. When I began listening, I thought that Cammie was sharing her story in secret, where the echo effect would have been spot-on and added a lot to the book. However, I came to realize that the entire story was being told with this effect, and I was very turned off as a listener. It was tough enough buying the character’s voice, but having it with the echo was even more difficult.
Throughout the audiobook, there were very noticeable production issues. I found that the editing was not seamless, and the sound volumes shifted frequently, leaving me as a reader constantly changing the volume of the audio in my car. Perhaps had the echo effect been removed, the sound could have been better controlled and stabilized.
The use of music and sound the indicate the end of disc was spot on. I thought those were all well-done and added another element to the story. The editing on disc changes was well-timed, leaving enough of a cliffhanger for the listener to want to pop in the next disc (despite the issues mentioned above). I found the pace of the audio was good, too. I had enough room to space out mentally and could still come back to the story without issue.
Unfortunately, there were too many times I wanted to just give it up, but because this one came recommended me to over and over at work from patrons, I gave it a listen. This is a great choice for families listening to a story together. The length is just right at 6 discs (in the Brilliance Audio production) and the tracks move quickly.
I’d love to hear this one redone, perhaps with a different reader. This is not a knock against Raudman, who herself was a fantastic reader, never once giving us any vocal issues with her voice, her sound, breaths, wet/dry mouth sounds, but she wasn’t the right reader for this title. It happens in the same way that our favorite books-turned-movies are often cast with actors/actresses who just don’t fit the book or our image of the book.