Audiobook Review: Sadie

Sadie by Coutrney Summers

Narrated by Dan Bittner, Fred Berman, Gabra Zackman, & Rebecca Soler
Genres: Young Adult, Suspense
Maturity Level: 5 (Content Warning, Sexual Abuse)
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

This is a truly outstanding, difficult, and important book for teens. However, I didn’t connect with it as much as many other people did, in part due to the writing, and in part due to the narration.

The main barrier to me was the protagonist, Sadie. I couldn’t connect with her at all. We’ve led such remarkably different lives, that’s true. But more to the point we are fundamentally different. Sadie is angry, aggressive, and seeking revenge, all of which are things I am not. I’m not blaming Sadie, not calling her a bad person, but there is literally nothing she did, not a single decision she made, that I could connect with. In addition, I didn’t think the voice actress who did Sadie was remarkable. I felt that she over-acted Sadie’s anger, infusing it into even the most trivial of things, which made her sound like a caricature of herself.

I loved the way this story is told, alternating between West McCray’s podcast and Sadie’s own point of view. It was really unique, like nothing I’d ever read before. It was also a clever way to give some exposition. A lot of times it takes you out of the story when the narrator has to explain their background. That’s not something the character would be thinking! But for West McCray to give it made sense. Sadie’s point of view being quite a bit ahead of what West McCray has discovered also made the whole thing more exciting somehow. Spoiler:

Then, at the end, when Sadie’s perspective cuts out entirely … that’s when the book finally hooked me!

The format with the podcast worked really well for audio. The audiobook publisher did a great job at making it sound like an authentic podcast. Except, and this bothered me, the audio quality on the phone calls. Now, I like to listen to podcasts. I know what it sounds like when people call in. This book did not replicate that well. They recorded it in a sound studio then used an effect to make it sound different. It didn’t work for me. They should have actually called it in if they wanted it to sound authentic. But that would have given them less control, so I guess I understand why they didn’t do that.

However, I didn’t find most of the book very … exciting. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be? But it’s been hyped as a can’t-put-down book, so I was expecting to be enthralled. In addition, I’d heard great things about the audiobook. But in general, I thought the whole thing dragged. Honestly, I couldn’t wait for it to just be over.

The last thing I want to mention that will affect whether or not you enjoy the book: the difficult content. I knew that this book would have murder and probably sexual abuse, but I didn’t expect it to be as troubling as it ended up being. In the novel Summers uses the character of West McCray to accuse society of ignoring stories such as Sadie’s because they make us uncomfortable, because we don’t want to admit to ourselves that such terrible things happen. But it doesn’t make them go way, it just makes us ignorant. And our ignorance is partly what allows these things to continue. And Summers doesn’t use these things for shock value, or use them for entertainment. I think for those reasons this book is an important one to read, because of the difficult content rather than in spite of it. But just … be aware.

If you’re in to thrillers, this is definitely a good one, and easily the best YA thriller I’ve read. But it’s just not my favorite genre, and the audiobook didn’t work for me at all. I recommend reading it, not listening, if you want to get the most out of this fabulous story.

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