REALER by David Hewson and Narrated by Gemma Whelan – An Audiobook Review of a Speculative/Dystopian Near Future that could easily become our post-pandemic reality. 5 Terrified Stars

Title: REALER

Author: DAVID HEWSON

Narrator: GEMMA WHELAN

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION

Length: 8 HOURS and 35 MINUTES

Publisher: W.F. HOWES LTD. 

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 29, 2020

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Audiobook is narrated by Game of Thrones
star Gemma Whelan

DESCRIPTION:

AN AUDIOBOOK EXCLUSIVE, PERFORMED BY GAME OF THRONES STAR GEMMA WHELAN.

‘Life is real…but this is Realer…’

Realer promises a new virtual reality, a safe and sanitised window into a virtual existence without the risks of the real, crumbling, post-pandemic society beyond the door. Sixteen year old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Mackintosh is a loner whose father works for the company. He gives her Realer for her birthday – only to be murdered as she watches through her high-tech hood at home. Alone in a tense, post-lockdown world, Charlie has to turn to Realer to find his killers. She’s soon trapped in a murderous conspiracy behind a system that’s steadily beginning to take over people’s lives. Charlie comes to understand that she can only hide from outside dangers for so long. In the end, the only way to defeat them is face-to-face, in the real world. A place she fears more than any.

Audie award-winning author David Hewson’s edgy dystopian, near-future thriller gives us a chilling glimpse into what our post-pandemic world could become.

LISTEN TO THIS AUDIBLE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DAVID HEWSON FOR FREE.
Click on the photograph to get this free Audible interview.
David Hewson joins Robin Morgan in the Audible Studios to discuss Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, the latest in the series of original audiobook adaptations of Shakespeare plays, narrated by Richard Armitage. The audiobooks are imaginative reworkings of the original plays using contemporary language but retaining the original historical settings.
©2016 Audible Ltd (P)2016 Audible Ltd

MY REVIEW:

Not your typical Dystopian fiction tale.

This tale could (and probably should) be taken as a warning.

The story begins not long after a full year of lockdowns because of the Covid19 pandemic. (Although Covid19 is never specifically named.)

A corporation that is eerily similar to the Amazon corporation of today is at the center of this speculative fiction tale.

A new technological gadget has begun to take the world by storm. It is called a “Realer.” The company tagline is:

‘Life is real…but this is Realer…’

This piece of technology allows the user to visit anywhere in the world through a sort-of virtual reality.

Instead of being themselves, users create avatars and when in “Realer World,” it is those avatars that people see and interact with – meaning you could be talking to anyone, from anywhere and their real identity remains secret.

Fears of the Virus coming back have been a boon for the Realer Corporation. Why actually go on holiday and chance catching the virus when you can “visit” anywhere – from the comfort of your own home?

Charlie (short for Charlotte) is attacked while sketching at a nearby lake. After the attack she is terrified to leave her home. She receives a Realer from her father as a birthday present as a way to coax her back outside and to prove it is safe.

Her father goes for a walk in the nearby woods while wearing Realer glasses. Charlie is able to tag along from her Realer in the safety of her home. She starts to enjoy herself and even begins to think her father is right and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Suddenly, three cartoon devil monsters appear in her father’s path. He is brutally murdered while she could do nothing except watch it happen.

So begins this unique Dystopian/Speculative Fiction story.

Charlie may be only sixteen, but she is determined to find out who killed her Dad.

With the dogged determination of the youthful, Charlie finds herself not only caught up in a murder investigation, but also in what might prove to be life-altering events not only for herself, but for the entire planet.

With non-stop intrigue, believable technological innovations, a pandemic causing long term lockdowns and the detrimental mental health issues it caused, this story could easily be our near future.

There are a variety of social issues tackled in REALER, along with a mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

David Hewson has created  characters that readers will recognize as either similar to themselves or to others they know.

If you want to take a look at one of our society’s potential futures, this Audiobook is a must listen.

I will be looking for more audiobooks narrated by GEMMA WHELAN. She is a professional actress and was a member of the award-winning cast of Game of Thrones. Her acting experience shines through in her narration as she knows exactly what intonation to use for each chapter. Her narration deserves a 5 Star review of its own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is the combination of great writing, exceptional narration and professional production that combine to make REALER an audiobook not to miss.

A 5 Star rating is exactly what this Audiobook deserves.

5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this audiobook. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Hewson is a contemporary British author of mystery and thriller novels. His work includes the Nic Costa series and Romeo and Juliet, an expansive and rich retelling of the Shakespeare classic which was awarded Best Original Work at the Audie awards.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER   

AMAZON  

ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Gemma Whelan is an actress and comedian, best known for playing Yara Greyjoy in the HBO fantasy-drama series Game of Thrones.

She plays detective Eunice Noon in The End of the F***ing World on Netflix.

To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER  

AMAZON

………….

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD by Canadian Literary Phenom SALEEMA NAWAZ is available now as an Ebook – Coming Soon to bookstores. THIS BOOK IS BEING CALLED “EERILY PRESCIENT” in the wake of the Covid19 Pandemic

Title: SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

Author: SALEEMA NAWAZ

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 438 PAGES

Publisher: McCLELLAND & STEWART – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 25, 2020EBOOK AVAILABLE NOW

ISBN: 9780771072574

Price: $24.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the award-winning, Canada Reads-shortlisted author of Bone and Bread comes an immersive and eerily prescient novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending pandemic.

How quickly he’d forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.

This is the story of a handful of people who find themselves living through an unfolding catastrophe.

Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing.

Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of the outbreak–all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into.

Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life pandemic. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.

As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters’ ties to one another and to those whose lives intersect with theirs, in an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone.

Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor.

Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz’s glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other.

It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people–and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

MY REVIEW:

I was surprised to learn that the writing of this book took place before the Covid19 Pandemic. In fact, this book was begun six years ago.

SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD centers around a coronavirus disease called ARAMIS which is eerily similar to COVID19. There are other things in this story that are extremely similar to what is happening in the world today.

In fact, one of the main characters is an author who had written  fictional account of a plague similar to ARAMIS. Little did Saleema Nawaz know that she was going to experience firsthand what her character went through.

The main difference between this book and other sci-fi / post apocalyptic /dystopian / speculative fiction novels is the outlook of the characters. What I mean by this is that in most of the books of this genre, the actions of the populace devolve into violence over the course of the story. In fact, in most post-apocalyptic books, the plague ends up being less dangerous than  the people.

In SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, the majority of the characters act for the good of society rather than simply taking care of themselves and their families. Of course, they do not take reckless risks, but they are somehow able to hang onto their humanity. This is a refreshingly optimistic view of how people act during a catastrophe.

Although I said this book is optimistic, don’t think that every character is perfect; they are far from it. There are also characters that act like self righteous jerks, as well as a few characters you will want to smack upside of their head for how they behave. In short, just as in real life, there are good people, bad people, and people who fall somewhere in the middle.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a unique science fiction novel with characters that are so relatable that you will feel like they are friends of yours by the end of the book.

I rate SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A READER’S GUIDE CAN BE FOUND HERE

QUOTES:

“It was the first time in his life he had encountered thinking – the deliberate thinking of difficult thoughts – as a thing to be encouraged, rather than staved off or endured.” 

The way she leaned into him, Stu realized that marriage had strength embedded in its very architecture, a resilience that beat back the usual threats. Given his parents’ union, he’d always thought of marriage as something more like resignation, a contractual obligation of last resort. But he now saw the hope of it, the faith in the promise itself.”
.
“‘But was it me in there?’ Jericho asked. ‘Or the person I used to be?'”
.
“Thinking is a sacred disease. And there’s no cure.”
.
“Everything is a song in one way or another.”
.
“As time went on, he began to think of his declarations of love as an ill-conceived engineering project, like digging graves along a shoreline; they could neither withstand nor contain her sorrow, nor his growing sense that he was no longer enough for her.”

Photo credit: Thomas Blanchard

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Saleema Nawaz’s first novel, Bone and Bread, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Canada Reads competition.

She is also the author of the short story collection Mother Superior, and a winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, she currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.saleemanawaz.com/

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

WIKIPEDIA

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

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https://www.theloop.ca/watch/entertainment/fun/this-fictional-story-about-a-pandemic-is-eerily-similar-to-covid-19/6153152480001/1665407062388927200/your-morning
.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Penguin Random House Canada is a full service Canadian publisher and distributor of books in hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and digital formats.

Imprints of Penguin Random House Canada include Anchor Canada, Bond Street Books, Doubleday Canada, Knopf Canada, Penguin Canada, Puffin Canada, Random House Canada, Razorbill Canada, Vintage Canada, McClelland & Stewart, Tundra Books and Appetite by Random House.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://penguinrandomhouse.ca

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FREE Children’s Book Released Today by Nosy Crow: CORONAVIRUS FOR CHILDREN – Explains the virus in a way kids ages 5-9 can understand

Axel Scheffler has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it.

Published by Nosy Crow, and written by staff within the company, the book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the company also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.

The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:

• What is the coronavirus?
• How do you catch the coronavirus?
• What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
• Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
• Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
• Why are some places we normally go to closed?
• What can I do to help?
• What’s going to happen next?

Nosy Crow Press wants to make sure that this book is accessible to every child and family and so the book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it.

However, they suggest, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help the UK health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/

Kate Wilson, Managing Director of Nosy Crow, said:

We were very aware that many parents and carers are struggling to explain the current extraordinary situation to children, many of whom are frightened and confused. We thought that the best thing we could do would be to use our skills to produce a free book to explain and, where possible, reassure children. We asked Axel, whose work is so familiar and so loved, to illustrate it. He was happy to do it, and did it extraordinarily quickly. Meanwhile, having heard Professor Medley interviewed by the BBC, we looked him up and wrote to him, and despite his huge workload, he reviewed the book over a weekend, and we were able to incorporate his suggestions, together with those of two head teachers and a child psychologist, into the final version of the book. We hope it helps answer difficult questions in difficult times.”

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said:

“I asked myself what I could do as an children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”

Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.”

CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO THE POST WITH THE DOWNLOAD LINKS.

All information above obtained from NOSY CROW

I have to say that I am extremely impressed with Nosy Crow Press and the Illustrator firstly for creating this Amazing Book, and secondly for offering it for FREE!!!