Friday, 18 October 2013

Book Review: Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow

Title: Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
Author: Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow
Pages: 240
Format: Audio Book (read by the authors)
Published: 2007
Goodreads Rating: 3.73/5
My Rating: 9/10

Synopsis from Goodreads

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight is two weeks in the life of Joel Hedges and Cat Davis. Joel would prefer to get through his final year of high school without Cat Davis or his mother's faux Spanish boyfriend and just hang-out with his best-friend Luke. Cat Davis has an annoying best-friend, and even more annoying little brother, and a deep abiding hatred of Joel Hedges. 

Due to an unfortunate incident involving a leaking pen and suspected outbreak of Bird Flu, Joel and Cat are forced to sit next to each other in Extension English. To make matters worse, and to their mutual horror, they are paired together for a tandem story writing assignment. 


I've been looking for this book for such a long time, but I couldn't ever seem to find a paperback version (or at least not one that wasn't really expensive), and then eventually I got it as an audio book through audible.
I was a little hesitant to get it as an audio book, because in the past I've had up and down experiences with them. Some aren't narrated the best, and I end up getting distracted or annoyed. This wasn't the case here. 
I thought having the authors narrator their parts was perfect, because they knew how they wanted things said and so they could express it perfectly.

The story of the book is what first grabbed my attention. Not only is is dual narration, written by two authors, but it's about two people having to write a tandem story together. 
There are some great elements here as a basis of a story, and it didn't disappoint.

The characters, both main and side, were written really well and there was a uniformity between the different voices. Although Cat and Joel saw the side characters differently, for instance Cat had a different opinion of Luke and Joel had a different one of Emma. The voices of those characters didn't become different between Nick's writing and Rebecca's. It flowed well and didn't feel like two different disjointed narratives. It worked perfectly.

This book had such great character to it, and a really good 'pull you into the story' feel as well. I listened to it all in one day, and I will definitely listen again.

One of the other high points was the relationship between Joel and Cat. It felt natural, it never felt rushed or unbelievable. I enjoyed seeing it progress from the early struggle for power over the story, to them working together in more ways than one.

This book had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion, with it's great voice and brilliant story line. I was very impressed.

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