Monday, January 27, 2020

Review: When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald (audio)

Title: When We Were Vikings
Author: Andrew David MacDonald
Narrator: Phoebe Strole
Published: January 2020, Simon Schuster Audio / Scout Press
Length: 10 hours 14 minutes / 336 pages
Source: Audio - ALC via / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 
Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all...

We are all legends of our own making.

My thoughts:  I first heard about this book last Spring at BookExpo. I was unsure about it, but one of the publicist's working at the booth saw me hemming and hawing about it and sold me on it. She told me I would love it and she was right...this book absolutely captivated me from start to finish. While I did have the print copy, I was also fortunate to receive an advanced listening copy (ALC) from and so I decided to listen to the book and what a treat that was.

I loved Zelda. She is a high-functioning young adult who was diagnosed with alcohol fetal syndrome. She is charming and quirky and I loved that she narrates this book. Being in her mind and seeing how she approaches life makes this book so unique. She is obsessed with Vikings and everything in her life is somehow made to fit around the Viking culture. And she is on a quest to become legendary - how can you not love that? She is intensely loyal to her friends and family, though maybe sometimes to the detriment of herself.

At its core, this book is about finding your place in this world. Does it matter if you are different from everyone else? Aren't you still looking for the same thing? Zelda may be a little different from you and I, but just because she's not-normal doesn't mean she's not capable. 

This book is remarkable on so many levels and and just begs to be read or listened to. It would definitely make a fantastic book club selection as it has so many areas for discussion. And it is certainly one that once you read it, you will not be able to stop thinking about it.

Audio thoughts: I loved listening to this really made the story come alive. This was the first time I've listen to Phoebe Strole as a narrator and I think she did a fantastic job capturing the essence of Zelda. I was completely captivated by the story and I think more so because of the narration. 


1 comment

  1. Thank you for the review. Unusual book. I'll be looking out for this one.


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