There’s nothing more frustrating to a fan of a writer than when that writer completely turns around and changes his or her story traits — and even genre. That’s why it’s fortunate that I was not a fan of Orson Scott Card before listening to this audiobook.
Since its release in 2004 Lost Boys it has gotten almost exactly 50/50 good and bad reviews from readers, and there’s one trend visible: if you absolutely loved Ender’s Game, then you’re going to be disappointed with this one. If you’ve never heard or read anything by Orson Scott Card, this is a very good place to start.
In Lost Boys we follow Step Fletcher, a software programmer on his way to a new job, with new hopes, in Steuben, North Carolina. He has with him his pregnant wife DeAnne and their three children as they move their lives across the country in a beat-up old car.
Step’s new place of work turns out to be a pit of snakes, and his eight year old son Stevie’s school is no better – in fact, it is in many respects far worse. When Stevie withdraws further and further into himself, and when his list of imaginary friends grows longer and longer, their names matching a list of boys having disappeared from Steuben, Step tries to intervene.
As evil prepares to strike out at the family from a completely unexpected angle, Step and his family are unprepared.
That’s about all I want to reveal about Lost Boys – all the rest must be experienced, and Blackstone Audio’s audio version is a very right medium for it. The book is narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, who has previously narrated a large number of Orson Scott Card’s books, but some may even recognize him from Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner or Spirit Sickness by Kirk Mitchell.
Rudnicki reads at a pace that might be frustrating if you’re used to narrators like Frank Muller, for example, who stumbles over his words in his whispery voice in order to create drama. Stefan is different. The rhythm is there, and every word is as clear as a bell, making sure that the text is brought to the listener’s ears with ease and comfort. On top of that, it’s no secret that Rudnicki’s deep and sonorous voice has almost the same effect on your mind as an extended meditation session.
Rudnicki jumps between characters easily, making sure to retain the character traits of each throughout the text, and developing them as he goes along. It’s easy to hear how Stevie draws into himself, and his mother and father’s helpless worry about it and how it grows as time marches on.
And, as Rudnicki reads on throughout the text, we are often reminded that the story is centered on a Mormon family. Those with some sensitivity when it comes to religious matters may not enjoy this, but if you’re interested in learning, this is also a good look into the life and ways of thinking of a real Mormon family – or so I’ve been told, at least. I found this part of the story interesting, educating and also entertaining, and opposite of what some critics have said, I think this aspect enriches the story and brings a dimension to it that would have been absent without the religious aspect.
So what is the conclusion? Orson Scott Card has written a vibrating story, full of nuances and views of life that are both unexpected and familiar, and bringing Lost Boys to a fabulous and unexpected ending. Stefan Rudnicki has done an awesome job of narrating it, and with the very few warnings that I’ve mentioned earlier, this is a great book and a great narrator performance.
This is definitely worth getting on tape, even if you already have it on paper.