Saturday, September 28, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Guide For The Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Dara Horn
Narrator:  Carrington MacDuffie
Unabridged, Length 10 hrs, 34 min
Publisher: AudioGo
Release Date: 9-9-13

Publishers Summary:
A thrilling new novel exploring how memory shapes the soul, by "an astonishing storyteller."
Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented a program that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt's post-revolutionary chaos, Josie is kidnapped - leaving Judith free to usurp her sister's life, including her husband and daughter, while Josie's talent for preserving memories becomes her only hope of escape.
A century earlier, Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor, hunts for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. What he finds will reveal the power and danger of the world Josie's work brings into being - a world where nothing is ever forgotten.
Interweaving stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy, and the digital frontier, A Guide for the Perplexed is a spellbinding tale sure to bring a vast new listener to the acclaimed work of Dara Horn.
©2013 Dara Horn (P)2013 AudioGO

My Thoughts:

The idea of a software that automatically records and preserves memories was intriguing and it reminded me of some of my friends who try to record their life with Facebook and other social media.  It also made me wonder what does happen to our digital life when we are no longer here to monitor or publish our memories?  Of course, in recording our own memories, we add only what we want others to know.  Josie Ashkenazi has invented a software, called Geniza, that records everything and is so precise, it can even make predictions. 

I like a work that leads me to do research and it was interesting to look up Solomon Schechter and his discovery of the rare Hebrew manuscripts (the Cairo Geniza).  However the three story lines left me a bit confused.  I wish it had been a guide for me.  Instead of being spell bound, I was perplexed.  I didn't find the characters to be well developed and had many questions.  Why did Josephine have a nickname (Josie) but Judith did not?  As a Judith who has been called Judy all my life by friends and family, I found that odd.  Could it have been the author's attempt to show the pervasive "Mom loves you best" syndrome?  Why did Judith insist on her sister going to Egypt in the first place?  If it was to take over Josie's life, why did she give it up so readily? Why did Josie forgive her sister so easily?  And why didn't the story end when it should have instead of going on and on like the Energizer bunny?

Carrington MacDuffie's performance was excellent.  She handled the accents and male/female voices perfectly, especially the Scottish twins who would have bored me to tears if I met them in real life.  This was my first experience with her work and I would like to hear more.

I give A Guide for the Perplexed 3.5 for story and 5 stars for narration.

Review copy provided by AudioGo via Audiobook Jukebox.


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