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February 21, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

Shovel ReadyShovel Ready
by Adam Sternbergh
Narrated by Arthur Morey

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: January 14, 2014
Format: Audio, 6 hours | 51 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman.

His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill.

My Thoughts:

After a dirty bomb hits Times Square in a near-future New York City, most people moved away and the city turned into a ghost town. Some people stayed and tried to carry on, others became addicted to machines that would allow them to stay in a dream state and live life in a virtual world. Spademan adapted. He was a garbage man, now he’s a hitman. He stayed in waste disposal. To him a job is a job – until he meets his latest victim, a woman who changes his mind about a few things.

While most of the characters in this dystopian world are unlikable, creepy, unsavory types, I found Spademan to be tolerable. He did have some morals, he won’t kill children, but for the most part he was indifferent. This becomes more understandable as the layers of the story unfold and Spademan reveals the details of his past.

This fast-paced, action-packed gritty noir tale is told in the first person using short sentences and sparse prose. The feeling of noir was so heavy I expected to find Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade appearing out of a dark corner at any moment, and at the same time there was the paranoid future feel of P.K.Dick’s Blade Runner. It was a fun, sometimes humorous read until the about the midway point when the story got a little gory and violent; not too much for me to handle, but the squeamish may want to be aware.

Audio Production:
I read a few chapters in print but mostly listened to the audiobook. Warning: The print book doesn’t use quotation marks, an annoying style I’ve been encountering more frequently than I would prefer.

The audio was narrated by Arthur Morey. His vocalization of Spademan was perfect: A gravelly, clipped voice exactly how I imagined Spademan to sound. His voices for the other bad guys all sounded similar so I needed to pay attention to which unsavory character was speaking, but otherwise an enjoyable performance.

Source: Review copy
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Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Feb 21 2014 2:31 pm

    My sister read this in print and really liked it.


  2. Sheila (Book Journey) / Feb 22 2014 9:28 am

    I just keeping seeing this one pop up and I am still undecided… audio may be the way to go.


  3. stacybuckeye / Feb 24 2014 7:29 am

    What?! No quotation marks? That would drive me nuts. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll only be listening to the audio now!


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