Sunday, November 27, 2011

Audiobook Review: Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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Author: Shannon Hale
Narrators: Various
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Edition: Unabridged
Duration: 10 hours, 12 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale's likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm. Anne O'Malley Copyright © American Library Association.
Overall Rating: 5/5

Hesitant doesn't even begin to cover how I felt about starting this novel. I read the original Goose Girl fairy tale not so very long ago and I'm not a fan. It's short, has a lot of random events going on, and I hated the main character for being such a pushover. So I was not expecting the amazingness that is Shannon Hale's version of The Goose Girl. It's suspenseful, entertaining, funny, and simply a good story.

I love how Shannon Hale took the core story of the fairy tale and completely expanded upon it. There were many familiar events, but a lot of new twists and turns as well. I have to say, for me, the ending was entirely unexpected. This may be because I read the original fairy tale first, and I thought it would be closer to that ending, but Hale makes it a much better, happier ending, which I very much appreciated.

Mostly, this book is about growing up and finding out who you are. It is a young adult novel, but I think that older people can most definitely relate. Ani has to get away from her family and her normal obligations to find out who she is for herself. And what she finds is that she's more like a princess that she thought she was. Besides reading about the adventure and the intrigue (which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story), I enjoyed seeing Ani grow up and become more confident in herself. And I loved reading about her making all sorts of new friends among the royal animal-keepers. Friendship is another good theme in this novel -- a theme that will never get old for me.

In terms of audiobooks, Full Cast is the way to go. They deliver on their name -- there is a full cast for this audiobook, meaning each character has its own person delivering their lines. At first, this was jarring for me. Being used to having at the most two narrators for an audiobook, hearing all the different voices was a bit strange. However, I got used to it and fell in love with the format. Every character is guaranteed to have his or her own quirks and personality, because there are different narrators throughout. I liked the music at the end of the chapters, but I thought it went on overly long. Overall, however, I loved this audiobook. (It did win a 2007 Audi Award for Achievement in Production and was a Finalist in another category, so I'm not surprised it was good.)

If you can't tell already, I love this book. Whether it's in print or in audio, if you haven't read it yet and are a fan of fairy tale retellings, or a good story in general, I recommend this for you.

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The Teen Book Guru