“You Can Leave”, written and narrated by Laurie Calhoun can best be describe as the confusing, convoluted, and contrived ramblings of a very disturbed person and based on the below review you will see that it did not work for me. What I believed I was going to be treated to, based on the author’s audiobook summary, was a captivating, suspenseful and dystopian, story I the likes of Orwell. But, instead the story turned out to be a bunch of unbelievable and uninteresting monotone musings from the book’s main character. It felt like an outline lacking all the aspects of what makes a story interesting. It lacked the standard core story arc elements such as a build, climax, or resolution. It felt unfinished and lacked any depth expected from a story which set the bar in the book’s summary.
The book felt more like a dump of one’s thoughts without any detail, depth, or dimension. Maybe reading it yourself would have made it more interesting, but the audiobook had too many issues for me to enjoy it. The language used by the main character seemed inconsistent from chapter to chapter feeling more like the author put her work though a thesaurus looking for infrequently used synonyms for commonly words. The repetition of the author stating, “this is a work of fiction, or is it?”, was overly used and instead turned into a rolling my eyes every time I heard it. I believe the author’s intent was to build a sense of suspense and mystery, but for me it instead pulled me out of the story because it was overly used. At no time while listening did I feel suspense, nor did I get a sense of paranoia expected. The book was just too odd and confusing for me to enjoy it. The author’s use of flashbacks was ineffective and did not give me any real insight. Maybe the genre or style of writing was not for me, I will leave that up to other reviewers. Multiple times I wanted to chock the book up to a DNF (Did not finish), but I kept going to see if it would end with a bang or big surprise. Sadly, I was disappointed.
Not only was the book difficult to follow, this is one of the cases where the narrator herself should not have performed her own work. The book may have been quite different if the audio was not so tinny as if it was spoken into a cheap USB microphone. The narration also did not use any inflection in her speaking nor was there any emotion. This may have been the author’s intent based on the book’s overall theme, yet it made completing the book very difficult. Not only was the audio quality quite disrupting, but there were plenty of places where one could hear page turns, swallows, and other background noises while listening. There were just too many audio issues to say that they were simply overlook during editing.
For parents and younger readers, this book has some infrequent use of profanity, yet there are a few words sprinkled here or there. There are both sexual and adult subject matter including alcohol and drug use along with conversations dealing with suicide. I would not recommend this book for less mature readers.
In summary, I cannot recommend this book because of all the issues stated above. The story was uninteresting and dry. The narration was unengaging and monotone.