sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
sophia_sol ([personal profile] sophia_sol) wrote2017-07-21 08:52 pm

The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow (audiobook)

I have been hopelessly obsessed with these books since I read them, and if there was any fandom for them to speak of I WOULD BE IN THAT FANDOM but since there are no epic-length fics for me to be reading, I'm left with just...rereading the books themselves. Even though I don't usually do rereads that soon after a first read. But this time I'm doing it by audiobook so it's at least a different experience!

It's been a while since I've listened to an audiobook, so I'd forgotten how much more intense and immersive an experience audiobooks are? There's no skimming or skipping ahead possible, and you can't read faster as it gets more exciting. You're stuck at speaking pace for every single sentence in the book so there's plenty of time for things to really sink in.

I mean, I knew this already, this is why I generally don't read novels by audiobook as my first exposure to the book, it's too stressful for my delicate sensibilities. I definitely would not have been able to handle The Scorpion Rules by audiobook if I didn't already know everything that would happen. But I was still surprised by how different an experience it was to listen to it as audiobook.

For one thing the horrifying nature of everything that happens was way more directly horrifying, oh my god. Like I did notice this stuff but it didn't strike me as much on first read through when I was all focused on questions of what happens next.

Even ASIDE from the constant looming threat of ritual child murder, the Preceptures are still TERRIBLE PLACES. Children are tortured into complying with notions of appropriate behaviour, they're under constant surveillance to keep them in line, they and their entire cohort get punished for even one person's minor infractions, and they're trained to take pride in their stoic non-reaction to all of this. Dear lord.

This also means the Abbot is possibly even more horrifying than Talis, because unlike Talis the Abbot talks like a kindly old man despite the, you know, torture and brainwashing outlined above. Eek. With Talis at least what you see is what you get, although Talis is pretty dang horrifying too.

(and then yes, the apple press torture scene is also...intense, by audiobook.)

I was also able to pay more attention to secondary and minor characters on this go-through of the book, so now I care about a lot more characters, and WHOOPS there was me crying when everyone was reacting to Grego's death. GREGO NOOOOOO. (In comparison, on first read of the book Grego was background enough to me that I didn't even remember he died.....)

And Tolliver Burr is the actual worst. I said in my original post about this book that the book doesn't make anyone straightforwardly evil buuuut I'm pretty sure Tolliver Burr counts. But I must say I appreciate that for a book involving as much torture as this one does, it firmly comes down on the side of torture being Bad and Wrong. The torture scenes are all properly awful, and when Talis comes to Greta to offer to have her join him in what's implied to be the future torture and killing of Burr, who Greta has good reason to hate and fear, Greta refuses, and convinces Talis to let Burr run free. Which is in itself a death sentence, in the wastes of Future Saskatchewan, but is a definite improvement on whatever Talis undoubtedly had planned.

Anyway. The other thing I re-discovered about audiobooks is that I am incapable of multitasking. If I am doing anything else requiring even a tiny bit of my brain while listening to the audiobook, my ability to focus on the book goes way down and so the impact of what I'm listening to is lessened. I was packing for vacation while listening to the last hour and a half of this book, and as a result the ending feels like a weak and emotionless ending, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW from having read this book that actually the ending is a very good ending! I just made a strategic planning mistake in not being sure to have my audiobook done earlier so I could finish it before vacation without having to listen while packing.

So: audiobooks are great when I'm doing any kind of totally mindless physical labour, terrible when I'm doing anything more complicated, and unfortunately also terrible when I'm doing nothing at all because my mind just drifts off into nothingness. Sigh.

I totally am going to listen to The Swan Riders by audiobook too, though that'll have to wait till I'm back from vacation, and also is dependent on whether my library has that audiobook on offer, which I haven't actually checked yet. But I'm looking forward to seeing how my reaction to that one changes as well from the altered medium of audiobook!

(I started this post by saying that I'm disappointed that there's not enough of a fandom out there for me to really get engaged with. @learntocheat suggests I should write fic myself instead and probably that is the correct answer but idk what to write about!! Also these days I write fic so rarely that I kind of feel like I no longer know how to write outside of yuletide....)