The Starving Years, by Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books LLC
Book Release Date: March 3, 2012
Narrated by: Gomez Pugh
Audio Release Date: July 7, 2016
Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Imagine a world without hunger. In 1960, a superfood was invented that made starvation a thing of the past. Manna, the cheaply manufactured staple food, is now as ubiquitous as salt in the world’s cupboards, pantries and larders.
Nelson Oliver knows plenty about manna. He’s a food scientist—according to his diploma, that is. Lately, he’s been running the register at the local video rental dive to scrape together the cash for his exorbitantly priced migraine medication.
In a job fair gone bad, Nelson hooks up with copywriter Javier and his computer-geek pal Tim, who whisks them away from the worst of the fiasco in his repurposed moving truck. At least, Nelson thinks those two are acquainted, but they’re acting so evasive about it, he’s not sure how they know each other, exactly.
Javier is impervious to Nelson’s flirting, and Tim’s name could appear in the dictionary under the entry for “awkward.” And with a riot raging through Manhattan and yet another headache coming on, it doesn’t seem like Nelson will get an answer anytime soon. One thing’s for sure, the tension between the three of them is thick enough to cut with a knife…even one of those dull plastic dealies that come in the package with Mannariffic EZ-Mealz.
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
I’m a big fan of Jordan Castillo Price and a recent convert to audio books so I was excited to finally sit down and listen to The Starving Years. Something that I always enjoy in her dystopian worlds is that they’re familiar. It’s an alternate universe that resembles our own, but not quite, so while it’s interesting to see how life could be, it’s never over the top which makes it very believable. It also helps that she does killer research so the knowledge she lays down on those pages is always on point.
My biggest fear going into this was whether or not I would like Gomez Pugh as the narrator. JCP uses him for all of her audio books – well, until recently. I see now that Seth Clayton is narrating her Mnevermind series. I’ve listened to her Psycop series and thought Pugh was a good fit for the voice of Victor Bayne and I do like his work but unfortunately he really wasn’t working for me in this book.
Some good things I will say is that his no-nonsense, matter-of-fact tone goes well with the characters. Specifically Nelson in the case of this book. I also think his distinction between character voices is excellent. You can listen to a 30-second sample here.
However it’s that same delivery along with his pacing that had me nodding off. No matter how hard I tried, my mind kept wandering or he would just put me to sleep. His voice is too soothing and I felt that it took away from the urgency of the dramatic situations. A lot is happening over the course of only a few days but his relaxed, laid back style made me feel like everything would be fine.
I attempted to listen to the book twice but ultimately ended up getting the ebook and reading it. I’d like to add that I seem to be in the minority with my opinion. Pugh is well liked by most listeners from what I can tell so if you’re unsure about him you should check out the longer samples available with each of her books on audible’s site.
Once I started reading, I thought there was just the right balance of plot and romance. Nelson, Javier and Tim complement each other well and even though they’re too busy trying to figure out what’s going on around them to wine and dine each other, they still find the time to make a connection. The chemistry is clearly there. I also think the additional characters of this ensemble cast round out this new group of friends nicely.
Switching to the ebook turned out to be exactly what I needed. I very much liked this story and I would say my only complaint is that the ending wraps up quickly after the final conflict has been resolved. I did think that Nelson’s closing thoughts were lovely, though.
I will always read anything JCP writes so I want to tell everyone to go out and buy this book. Instead of doing that, I would say if you haven’t read this and you’re a fan of the genre, you should definitely check it out.
Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price is the owner of JCP Books LLC. Her paranormal thrillers are colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison.
Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.
With her education in fine arts and practical experience as a graphic designer, Jordan set out to create high quality ebooks with lavish cover art, quality editing and gripping content. The result is JCP Books, offering stories you’ll want to read again and again.
You can purchase The Starving Years from:
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
I received copy of this audio book in exchange for a fair and honest review.