Last week, just before my trip to Pittsburgh, I finished listening to an Audible Original that's a contender for my favorite book of the year.
A few weeks earlier, I'd sought out a book by Cara Bastone after finishing Angela Duckworth’s Grit. I was getting ready to head into the end of semester grading tunnel and wanted something a little lighter. Since I’d really enjoyed the last of Bastone’s Audible originals, Love at first Psych, I thought another by the same author might be a good fit.
Enter Seatmate, which was even better.
I rarely listen to novels on Audible, preferring to curl up with that sort of a book in my lap, but Bastone has a knack for writing for the audio book genre. Like Love at First Psych, Seatmate is appropriately dialogue heavy, which makes it easy to follow the story even while driving, but Bastone also has a talent for working in character descriptions. Listening to this as a writer, I often thought to myself (and even said out loud), "that was a really clever way to do that."
The book definitely has a romance vibe to it, but it doesn't feel like formula romance. For me, that was part of the appeal because I'm not a big fan of the genre and haven’t read a romance novel, per se for more than two decades. Because Bastone creates likable, complex characters, she has the reader rooting for them as individuals, not just rooting for them to end up together, and she's good at creating suspense beyond the will they/won't they vibe of a standard romance.
Bastone makes excellent use of the audio format in terms of setting, story structure, and sound, using all of them to deepen character development, amp up conflict, and bring the listener into the story. Throughout the story, she brings in enough peripheral characters to keep things moving and interesting, without deviating from the story that we want to hear.
In fact, the book was so much fun to listen to that I think I want to write one! Audible, are you listening?