Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Audio Book Review: Serena, by Ron Rash

What a strange, unusual book Serena is. I found it entertaining, if a bit slow, and it certainly made me uncomfortable at times.

George Pemberton has met and married Serena in Boston, and he's bringing her back to the mountains of North Carolina. Pemberton is rich and makes his living by logging the vast acres of timber in these mountains. Serena soon establishes herself as a shrewd business woman, as well as being tough enough to stand up to the men in the logging camp. It's 1929.

George and Serena are also fighting the government that wants to take away their land to establish the Smokey Mountain National Park.

So, you think, "Cool. A tough woman, who didn't fit the feminine stereotype of the day." Not. I don't think I've ever read a book with a main character like Serena. She's evil. She's manipulative and ruthless. She's awful and there isn't much to like about her. But, you have to keep reading to find out what she's up to next.

George has fathered an illegitimate child before he met Serena, which also ends up playing a role in Serena. Suffice it to say they cut down anything and anyone in their way to achieve what they want. George ends up being dominated by Serena, but his love is blind.

It does take a while to get the story established. We learn a lot about the logging industry and especially how dangerous these jobs were.

The narrator, Phil Gigante, is OK.  Not my favorite narrator, but he didn't annoy me. Well, his female voices did get on my nerves a bit, but I still found Serena easy to listen to.

I enjoyed this mostly because I was fascinated by the depth of Serena's evilness, and I also enjoyed the historical elements. It's not a book for everyone, but I tend to be less picky about my audiobooks, so it was OK. Serena is an adult book, and while there's nothing inappropriate for teens, I just don't think the subject matter has much appeal for the average teen.

Published by Ecco, 2008, Brilliance Audio
Audio book obtained from the library
384 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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