Friday, August 25, 2017

#SRC2017 Book Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley (audio)

Title: The Goddesses
Author: Swan Huntley
Narrator: Hillary Huber
Published: July 2017, Random House Audio / Doubleday Books
Length: 11 hours 38 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley

The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship, from the celebrated author of We Could Be Beautiful.
When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy's husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana's hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she's ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. 

A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Swan Huntley and I found it to be a very different book from what I was expecting. Was it based on the description or the tags used to classify it, I'm not sure, but in my mind I had pictured it a very different type of read than what it actually was.

This was one of those books that again is more of a people-watcher type of book than anything else. I found myself consumed with the friendship that develops between Nancy and Ana - did anyone else find this uber-creepy? I kept waiting for something to happen. After all, this friendship happens because Nancy feels she needs to become a new person - she's just uprooted her family to Hawaii after her husband has admitted to infidelity and realizes that after all the changes, she's still the same old person. Wanting to try out something new, she finds a yoga class and hits it off with the yoga teacher, but does she really? 

The characterizations in this book are creepy! I have to say I didn't necessarily like all the characters, and yet I couldn't put the book down. There was just something pulling me back to it - I had to see just what would happen. Nancy becomes glued to Ana's hip - does she like her that much or is she just that desperate for a friend? And what about the marriage that she is supposed to be working on? Or her sons that she is supposed to be keeping on eye on so that they don't keep acting out? Are they suddenly shining stars?

Can you see how easy it is to get sucked into this book? This isn't your happy-go-lucky type of read, but rather one layered with dark undertones, that slowly builds up the tension until that shoe finally drops. It's a rather addictive read that with drive you crazy with some of the antics that take place, having you shake your head in frustration. But isn't that the fun in reading sometimes? To live vicariously through the lives of our characters so that we don't have to? 

Audio thoughts:
Hilary Huber did a great job with this audio book. She brought these characters to life and her pacing and tone were spot on. I've listened to Hilary narrate before and I know her audio performances are always good, so I was excited to see her name on the audio package when I selected this audio book. A narrator can make or break an audio book and this one definitely need a good narrator!

The Goddesses  by Swan Huntley is one of  BookSparks "Summer Reads" reading selection picks. 
 Follow the #SRC2017 hashtag on twitter to read reviews on this book as well as reviews on the other summer books! Also, be sure to check out the BookSparks Facebook page for the #SRC2017  and other fun links. You can participate in weekly secret missions for chances to win signed copies of selected books and more! There's a new secret mission each week :)