book review

2 Recent Audio Reviews

I’m a fair-weather walker. Here in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. we finally started having what I consider to be fair enough weather to walk in around the first of April. And walking means audiobooks. Here are reviews of two that I completed recently.

I Will Find You by Harlan Coben

  • Brilliance Audio, 2023
  • Narrated by Steven Weber
Audiobook cover: I Will Find You by Harlan Coben. Background: photo of a young boy with a man and a woman.

An innocent father serving life for the murder of his own son receives evidence that his child may still be alive, and must break out of prison to find out the truth in #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben’s latest breathtaking thriller.


Harlan Coben is my top go-to author of contemporary thrillers, and I always preorder his new books. My heart sank a bit when I read the “break out of prison” part, because those escapades are almost never successful. Nonetheless, I pressed that “preorder” button.

I have to give Coben credit: He created a plot that made the “break out of prison” part less incredible that it otherwise might have been, but accepting it was still a stretch. Fortunately, Coben also always creates interesting, fully developed characters. In this case, those characters and the unusual plot carried the story to a satisfying conclusion. 

However, this is not Coben’s finest work, so if you’re not familiar with his books, I suggest you not start with this one. Go for Tell No One, his (2001) breakthrough novel, and proceed from there.

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

shelf full of books with pastel spines, no titles
Audiobook cover: The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda. Background: photo of a raised beachhouse against an orange and gold sunset.

The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda

  • Simon & Schuster Audio, 2023
  • Narrated by: Alex Allwine, Erin Moon, Andre Bellido, Inés del Castillo, Michael Crouch, Priya Ayyar, Greg Chun
  • ISBN 978-1-7971-5351-3

A decade ago, two vans filled with high school seniors on a school service trip crashed into a Tennessee ravine—a tragedy that claimed the lives of multiple classmates and teachers. The nine students who managed to escape the river that night were irrevocably changed. A year later, after one of the survivors dies by suicide on the anniversary of the crash, the rest of them make a pact: to come together each year to commemorate that terrible night.


Megan Miranda is another author whose new works I read eagerly. I’ve read several of her earlier works, and they all follow a pattern. The story focuses on one main character, whom we meet in the present. That character has a past that includes some crucial action or event. The story unfolds with dual timelines: the present, and the past. The past time line gradually clarifies what happened back then and how that event resonates in what’s happening now. Along the way, we get additional information from a few other characters.

The stories in Miranda’s books differ enough from each other that I don’t mind seeing the same general approach to storytelling. Miranda usually manages the transitions between present and past story lines and between individual characters’ points of view very well. 

However, this most recent book doesn’t shape up as well as her earlier ones, for two reasons. The first is that there are simply too many characters involved. Even though we don’t get individual chapters from each one’s point of view, there are simply too many characters to keep track of. 

The second problem I had is that the pacing of the overall story is confusing, mostly because the backstory—what happened that horrible night 10 years ago—is revealed way too slowly. We get several past glimpses of people lost and searching, but without much context it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on. It took a long time for me to understand that the tragedy involved two crashed vehicles and a flood.

The present story also unfolds way too slowly. There’s a developing feeling of overall suspicion and dread that builds, but, again, without much context. Eventually all the various elements fall into place, but the ending, when it finally arrives, feels contrived. Megan Miranda usually tells her stories seamlessly, building up suspense along with the reader’s understanding of what’s going on.

So I’ll make the same suggestion here as for Coben’s works. If you haven’t read any of Megan Miranda’s earlier books, don’t start with this one. Pick up any of her earlier books for a more satisfying reading experience. 

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

4 thoughts on “2 Recent Audio Reviews”

  1. I read your review of The Only Survivors with particular interest, as the novel I’m writing now has separate past and present timelines. I’ve never done this before, so I want to be sure I know of any potential pitfalls.

  2. I never think about listening to an audio book when I’m walking – I am too nervous about dogs and cyclists that come up behind me and trip me up because I don’t hear them!

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