Audiobook Review: Departure by A.G. Riddle

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

DepartureDeparture by A.G. Riddle

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Audible Studios (2/17/15)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars

Narrators: Nicola Barber, Scott Aiello | Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins

I was actually first introduced to Departure as an audio title (given how often I browse for interesting new titles to listen to, it was pretty hard to miss how often it popped up on the popular science fiction and fantasy audiobook lists). What I didn’t know, was that the book itself was originally self-published. The news of its success must have caught on though, because I just learned recently too that HarperCollins has bought it and will be re-releasing it later this year. Runaway hits like that often have a way of catching my attention, so my curiosity probably got the better of me when I decided to check this one out.

The story begins with the crash of a passenger plane on route to London from New York. Flight 305 ends up somewhere in the English countryside, its fuselage split in two. In spite of this, there are actually quite a few survivors, most of them from first class because their half of the plane went into the trees while the tail section went into a nearby lake. As the survivors treat the wounded and fight to save as many lives as they can, they soon realize that they have crashed into a very different world. Rescue might be a long time coming. If ever.

There’s not much more I say about the story without spoiling it, but suffice to say, the Lost vibes are strong with this one. If you enjoy mind-bending sci-fi thrillers with a slight touch of creepy mystery, you should give this one a look. On the other hand, if you were looking forward to more of a survival adventure, you’ll probably want to alter your expectations like I did. As someone with a fear of flying, I was really nervous and bracing myself for a heart-pounding intro, but what I ended up getting was barely a notch above suspenseful. After the first quarter of this book, the emphasis also rapidly shifts to the bigger conspiracy.

The focus mainly falls on five passengers: Harper Lane writes biographies for a living, but her real dream is to writer her own series of adventure novels one day; Nick Stone is an American businessman, on his way to a meeting with The Gibraltar Project to discuss the building of a dam in the Mediterranean; Sabrina Schröder is a German medical scientist, making her the best choice to care for the wounded crash victims even though most of her experience was in a lab; Yul Tan, a Chinese-American computer scientist, has just developed a quantum internet capable of transmitting more data farther and faster than anything seen before; Grayson Shaw, son of a billionaire philanthropist, is struggling with alcohol problems after finding out some news about his father.

Unbeknownst to any of them, these five characters are all connected in some way and may hold the clues to the reason why their plane crashed, not to mention an answer to where they’ve ended up. The details are gradually revealed as the events unravel, and it was a captivating journey to discover the truth – even in spite of the many confusing moments along the way. To be honest, this book ventured a little too far into hard sci-fi territory for me to feel truly comfortable, and even though I was able to follow the plot just fine, a lot of the themes that came up later in the book are just not topics I find interesting. Be that as it may, I didn’t actually dislike this book; I found most of the story very enjoyable in fact, and even liked how it ended (as opposed to how I felt about Lost!) but it’s difficult to ignore the technology aspects that I personally couldn’t get into.

As for my thoughts that are specific to the audio version, I’m always happy listening to multi-narrator books and I thought both Nicola Barber and Scott Aiello delivered excellent performances. They portrayed Harper and Nick respectively, and voiced their own characters’ dialogue even when they were in the other character’s perspectives, giving this audiobook a quasi full-cast feel without it actually being a full-cast production. With their natural performances, the two narrators also made a lot of the dialogue sound a lot less awkward than the way it probably looked on paper.

In truth, I don’t think I would have fared as well reading the print version of this, given the propensity for my eyes to glaze over when they come upon pages of technobabble, especially when they have to do with subjects like the quantum theories of time travel. My brain has a better time when this stuff is read to me, so I was quite happy with my decision to listen to Departure in audio format. This is a book I might have enjoyed more if it had been the survival adventure I expected, but all told it’s a pretty solid book with a story that will no doubt appeal more to sci-fi thriller fans who also enjoy some conspiracy with their mystery.

Story: 758dc-new3stars | Performance: 4 stars Overall: aff72-new3-5stars

17 Comments on “Audiobook Review: Departure by A.G. Riddle”

  1. So I’m wondering (and confused!)- is this the audio of the self published version? I was surprised to even see an audio book, because the HarperCollins edition is still a ways out, right? It sounds interesting and I do have an ARC so I may try it if I have time.

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    • Yes, I believe it’s the audiobook of the indie-pubbed version. The audio rights are usually different from the print book rights, so the author must have sold them to Audible. Harper picked up the book and I hear the re-release is going to contain extra stuff and bonus materials, not sure if there will be an updated audiobook to go along with that though.

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    • I actually really liked Lost for the first season, and only lost interest when the writing fell apart after it was obvious none of the writers knew where they were going. So yeah, it can be good or bad depending on the execution.

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  2. Aw, drats. I was actually hoping for a survival story, because something about crashes and surviving a plane crash are fascinating to me – I feel like there could be a lot of interesting dynamics that could stem from that. But hey, as an SFF fan, I don’t mind it being some “crashing into a whole new other world”, too, although you are right in saying it’s way too similar to Lost for my liking. I’ve never heard of this before so I’m thankful you featured it because I’m definitely interested. Hopefully the language and writing weren’t boring because technobabbly can be interesting to me as long as it doesn’t feel like I’m reading a textbook.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    • It’s actually quite interesting, and there are enough survival elements at the beginning that hooked me before moving into the more sci-fi territory with the conspiracies. I’d say the story is a lot less scattered than Lost, and listening to the audiobook made it easier to get through the technobabble.

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  3. This could indeed go both ways, since there are some elements (like the excessive technobabble) I don’t enjoy – and yet I’ve seen this book mentioned several times lately and curiosity demands satisfaction… 🙂

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    • Haha, there were definitely parts in this that I would have skipped if I was reading. My eyes glaze over when you talk about quantum physics.

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  4. Pingback: Audiobook News & Reviews: 08/4-08/07 | ListenUp Audiobooks

  5. I love when audiobooks have multiple narrators. I honestly don’t know if I’ve read enough sc fi to know how I fare with ‘hard sci fi’, but I suspect I generally am fine with it. Unless they start talking nonsense I know is not feasible, but the further I get from my college years the less that happens. (It’s like magic is fine, because… Magic! But I hate when facts get mixed too much with fiction because then I feel like it’s wrong)

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    • I don’t know how I feel about multiple narrators. Sometimes they can be very distracting, especially when they do their own parts of the dialogue in the other narrator’s “part” so that you get rapid voice switching back and forth. And audiobooks are awesome for me and hard sci fi, I won’t be tempted to skim because I can’t! 😀

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  6. Breakout self-published hits always make me smile; self-published authors get a lot of flak sometimes so it’s gratifying to see them succeed. I’m not really one for hard sci-fi so I don’t think this one’s for me…especially since I always thought *gasp* Lost was dumb!

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    • I do love hearing success stories from authors who start out in self-publishing! And lol, I actually really liked Lost for the couple seasons, and followed it very religiously at the beginning before I felt the writing went downhill.

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  7. Yeah, I never really got into Lost for some reason and I’m not sure I like the idea of all the technobabble – I do like some sci fi but it’s not my natural first love so I tend to be a bit more cautious.
    Ill probably avoid this one.
    Thanks
    Lynn 😀

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  8. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves and Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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