Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Pub. Date: January 10th, 2014
Pages/Length: 315 pages / 7 hours, 12 minutes


In this USA Today bestselling book, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell drops you into a vast, dark world: 100 miles of living, breathing, tunnels that is the New York City underground. This subterranean labyrinth inhales three million bustling commuters every day. And every day, it breathes them all out again... except for one.

Software millionaire Joe Tesla is set to ring the bell on Wall Street the morning his company goes public. On what should be the brightest day in his life, he is instead struck with severe agoraphobia. The sudden dread of the outside is so debilitating, he can't leave his hotel at Grand Central Terminal, except to go underground. Bad luck for Joe, because in the tunnels lurk corpses and murderers, an underground Victorian mansion and a mysterious bricked-up 1940s presidential train car. Joe and his service dog, Edison, find themselves pursued by villains and police alike, their only salvation now is to unearth the mystery that started it all, a deadly, contagious madness on the brink of escaping The World Beneath.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I have really been having a love/hate relationship with audiobooks lately. I find the Kindle copy/Audiobook copy combo on a great sale, pick it up, and throw caution to the wind regarding whether I'm going to find it completely captivating or have it fall flat for me. I like to listen to these books on my long commute to and from work each day so I'm always on the lookout for something to really grab me and keep me occupied. Unfortunately, The World Beneath ended up just being okay.

My first complaint with the story was the fact that, from the beginning, I felt like it was picking up in the middle of another story. From the description I thought this would be Joe's story of how he ended up living underground and the trials he faced in this somewhat self-made prison caused by his agoraphobia. Instead, we start with Joe already underground for six months, with established relationships that he is trying to hold on to while he can't leave the tunnels and a somewhat settled existence with his dog, Edison. I kept going back to the book information to make sure I was in fact reading the first in a series. The focus doesn't seem to be on Joe's reasons for being underground and how he might get out at all, but more on an infected monkey, trained soldiers, hired assassins, and the like. If this had been the second book in a series and I  had already read the first, in which Joe's life and relationships were firmly established, I might have enjoyed this shift in focus. As it stands I felt somewhat cheated out of getting to know Joe better.

Secondly, while the narrator did a great job with the male voices and distinguishing each one, the women's voices (what few there were) were just bad. While this doesn't have anything to do with the actual story, since I was listening to this one it did affect my enjoyment. The story is also very heavy in description and internal dialogue and much lighter in actual dialogue and character interaction, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but did make the interactions between the characters seem somewhat superficial. Add on to this the fact that, during the many internal ruminations of Joe, we have every single number he says replaced with a color - in the middle of the sentences! - I found myself just wanting to get out of his head and  move on to something else.

Now, I don't want it to sound like I didn't enjoy the story at all because that wouldn't be true. The relationship between Joe and his dog was really great and the author did an exceptional job of building that relationship and making it feel real, relatable, and so touching. Their interactions were by far my favorite parts. The author also did a wonderful job of building the world of the underground tunnels and describing it so well that you felt like you could feel, smell, touch it all. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the underground Victorian mansion that Joe was living in as well. The contrast between its opulence and the dark dankness of the tunnels was really quite breathtaking.

All in all I enjoyed aspects of this story while finding others somewhat irritating. I seem to be in the minority as others have given it great reviews and the book was the winner of  the International Thriller Writers's Best Ebook Original Novel award. I will say that if the author decides to write a story that develops Joe's backstory I would definitely be interested in reading it. I think there is quite a lot of potential here, the way this story was presented just didn't work overly well for me.

What Did I Think About the Cover? 

To be honest it doesn't really do anything for me. It does show the tunnels that play such a big part in the story, but I can't say it is a cover that would pull  me in and make me want me to read more about it.

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

I bought this book for my own collection. To read more reviews and find links to where you can purchase a copy go to Goodreads HERE.

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