I don’t usually start out an audiobook review talking about the reader, unless it is a multi-cast performance, but this time around I have to jump to it and get it off my chest. The reader of this audiobook, Todd Licea, Is overwhelmingly awesome at presenting this book. The book is told in first person and the author, Alfred C. Martino, provides some beautiful wordsmithing to create the story which in and of itself creates a theatre of the mind effect, but Todd Licea presents the story with such great quality that basically the listener has no choice but to strap in and enjoy the ride.
Martino creates such clear images of everything that it is as if you already know everything as it is happening. For example, when describing the scenes from the soccer practices or games the reader/listener doesn’t need to know the rules, they are explained in such a way you feel as though you already know everything about the game. That teamed with the excellent delivery of Todd Licea makes for a superb story worth hearing.
Johnny Fehey has been friends with Kyle Saint-Claire since they started school, but as they enter their senior year, the distance between their obvious social differences could not be clearer. Kyle earns excellent grades and is the school’s star soccer player. Johnny has no interesting quality to own up to but tries. There also seems to be an economic social factor dividing the two also.
Legend has it that the school’s social structure has been drawn out into a ladder diagram with those higher on the ladder being the most popular and those lower, the social outcasts. Johnny spends his weekends at the library, where the legendary diagram is said to be hidden, trying to find the Ladder and figuring out how to change where he stands on the ladder. Fate steps in, Johnny shoots the winning goal in the county championships, he becomes part of the popular crowd. At the victory party, Johnny witnesses the rape of a girl by Kyle and a teammate. Kyle and Johnny’s friendship hangs in balance as they ponder what to do and whether their choice will be the right decision. Little does Johnny know that the life of the closest person he understands is also at stake: his own.
The complicated relationship between Kyle and Johnny is very realistic. It is a perfect example of a story in which the characters are not divided easily in to the popular kids vs. social outcasts. The ending is very unexpected, but the lead up will keep you on the edge.