The day the much-anticipated second book in Samantha Shannon's Bone Season series came out, I bought two copies. I own a pretty hardback of The Mime Order as well as a digital copy of the audio edition. I wanted a book for my shelves, but I knew I'd be listening to the novel instead of reading it.
This review assumes you've read the first installment of the series or at least know the premise (see my review of The Bone Season); there are no spoilers for book two. The Mime Order opens pretty much exactly where we last saw nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney: she and a group of fellow fugitives have managed to escape from bondage in the old city of Oxford and are now heading home to London.
Of course, this isn't the England of today. For Paige, it's 2059 and history has pushed the world in a different direction from ours. London is ruled by two factions: the Scion, who hunts down and kills any citizen who shows clairvoyant (psychic) ability, and the not-so-secret gangs of voyants, who have divided the city into territories, each with its own leader and enforcer.
Although Paige is now back in the bosom of her gang, she cannot relax. She is wanted by both the Scion and the Rephaim (the creatures who enslaved her in Oxford), neither of whom would mourn her death. In addition, she can't even trust her fellow voyants: there has been a rash of unexplained murders and disappearances, resulting in a major power struggle among London's voyant gangs. The focus of The Mime Order is on how Paige finds herself caught up in the city's sociopolitical upheaval.
Alana Kerr returns to narrate the second book in the Bone Season series. As with the first novel, Kerr is particularly good at helping listeners tap in to the pacing and emotions of the story. Her whispery soft tones are perfect for the more intimate moments of the book, and she is equally adept at the sharp, quick notes needed for the action scenes.
Samantha Shannon has created a complex world with a host of characters, which can be difficult for an audiobook performer. Kerr rises to the challenge by using distinct characterizations for the dialogue and a clear and expressive voice for the narrative. Paige's vocabulary includes quite a few unfamiliar words (chol-bird, mollisher, glossolalia), but Kerr proceeds stumble-free.
I was impressed with Kerr's handling of the range of needed accents, such as an Irish brogue and several specific London dialects. However, as I mentioned in my review of The Bone Season, Kerr is a little breathy, but I wasn't overly distracted by it and hope she returns for the rest of the series.
Recommendation: Whether you listen to or read The Mime Order, you're in for a treat. I liked the action (not for the squeamish), the overall political and social issues, and the general plot line. On top of this, Shannon adds excellent interpersonal relationships among her characters, who are allowed grow and change and make mistakes. There are enough plot twists and very real emotions to keep us invested in Paige's life.
If I have any complaint, it's the same one as I had for the first installment: Shannon spends a good deal of time on the world building. It's fascinating stuff but can slow down the pacing. On the other hand, thanks to Alana Kerr's expressive performance, listeners will breeze through the lulls in the action.
I bought a digital download of the audiobook and was pleased to discover that it came with a PDF of three maps of London and a genealogy-like chart of the seven orders of clairvoyance. These visuals are very helpful to the listener, and I encourage audiobook publishers to include such extras whenever possible. I was sorry that the glossary was not available as a PDF, but Shannon is such a good writer, I got by fine without it.
For a sample of the audiobook, hit the play button below.
Print: Bloomsbury USA, 2015
Audio: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury USA; 16 hr, 28 min
Source: Bought (audio & print) (see review policy)
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