Tag Archives: reality TV

Fast Times in Navel, Utah: Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book by Adele Park

cover image of Yikes!For Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book, a send-up of reality shows, bestselling authors, sex addict editors, and potheads (among other things), longtime radio personality and writer Adele Park, writer and producer of Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book, returns to Navel, Utah – home to aromatic orange groves and insular natives who discourage unwholesome outsiders with the ten miles of bumpy dirt road that is the only way into Navel through the desert.

But in this companion book to Jitters, the peace and quiet isolationism of Navel is shattered once again. This time by an invasion of coffee-drinking, marijuana-smoking, scantily clad, exhibitionist performance artists from loose-living places like New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

With backstories straight out of National Enquirer or Soap Opera Digest, the main characters of Yikes! are Blue McKenna, a pot-growing, publicity-shy, bestselling author; her plastic-surgery-addicted sister, Moon; Chet Waterhouse, a sex-addicted NYC book editor who’s jumping ship to television; and Chet’s voyeuristic teenage son, Anthony; who are all involved in taping a pilot reality TV show called Yikes! about performance artists competing to win the prize of exhibiting themselves in a New York gallery. Along with the main characters, the contestants on the show take turns giving their own takes on the producers, the other cast members, and the events of the story.

Full-cast audiobook productions are a different experience than listening to a traditional audiobook. With a traditional audiobook, one or maybe two narrators essentially read a book aloud (often with great skill) but full-cast audio is more like listening to a radio show, minus the sound effects. On the one hand, a badly voiced character can be a problem in a full-cast audio. (In this case, for me, it was the voice of Anthony; it sounded too old and too much like the actor was reading from a script, carefully enunciating each word with a put-on Brooklyn accent.) On the other hand, the voice that bothered me is only one of many, so it doesn’t spoil the whole experience the way a solo narrator who gets on a listener’s nerves would.

There’s an occasional reference to events from Jitters (the first book set in the fictional town of Navel from Adele Park and Straight to Audio Productions) but Yikes! stands on its own and has almost completely new characters. As with Jitters, there is absolutely nothing enriching, educational, or heartwarming about Yikes!. It’s entertainment for adult audiobook listeners who enjoy the broad, occasionally offensive humor of Saturday Night Live or The Onion. Its satirical humor might make you think briefly about your own views on social issues such as reality TV, gay rights, or marijuana legalization, but a moment later, the crazy plot takes over and you’re off on another wild tangent. As Adele Park says herself in a guest post at Life Between Pages:

Using satire, I explore issues ranging from gay rights to freedom of religion.  By exploiting the absurd, I try to illustrate the effect certain attitudes and acts of discrimination have on society.  But mostly, I’m just going for the grins and giggles.

Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Yikes! on MP3-CD. (U.S. only)

Disclosure: I received several copies of Yikes! on MP3-CD from the author for review, to give away, and for the public library.

Other Opinions (all good)
Audiobook Fans

This One’s a Winner!: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Audio)

I take back everything I’ve ever said about authors narrating their own audiobooks (don’t, please, don’t!) after listening to Libba Bray‘s incredible performance on Beauty Queens. She brings to life her own satirical look at advertising and news media, corporate ethics, commercialism, and pop culture, through the darkly humorous story of teen beauty pageant contestants who survive a plane crash onto a jungle island. (Only a small percentage of the original fifty states’ contestants survive. Miss Massachusetts is not among them, although her gown does come in handy at one point.) The airline staff, the camera crew…all dead. As if in a reality show without the show, the girls appear to be on their own with only few supplies other than some waterlogged bags of airline pretzels and a surfeit of beauty aids.

With this year her last chance to win before she ages out, the bold and brassy Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, representing Texas, takes charge, insisting that the girls keep up their pageant routines while Adina (Miss New Hampshire) sardonically observes that shelter, food, and water should probably take priority, but is ignored. Each of the main characters has a story that gets revealed as they begin to trust each other, but there’s no time to sentimentalize each girl’s individual discovery of strengths she didn’t know she had, as the author throws the girls into one dangerous situation after another, and not just snakes, tropical storms, slumbering volcanos, or other jungle threats. The author’s wild subplots involving terrorist, politics, reality shows, and more, keep the action and humor going strong. And, yes, some hot boys do eventually come into the picture, so there’s romance too, but with a few twists on the usual YA romance fare.

Like the Miss Teen Dream contestants themselves, who are not all as they present themselves to pageant judges and each other, this young adult novel is more than meets the eye. Under the hilarious satire, skewering everything from product placement to international arms dealing, lie serious themes that readers of both sexes can think about and form opinions on. The salty language, frank talk about sexual desire in teens, left-leaning politics, and the distinctly Sarah-Palin-by-way-of-Tina-Fey voice of Ladybird Hope (former Miss Teen Dream now presidential candidate) might make this book slightly less humorous to social conservatives than to more liberal-leaning readers. But I was impressed by the author’s even-handedness in many parts of the book where she avoided the common pitfall of only being open-minded about opinions that match our own, allowing for the girls from both red and blue states to experience some brief, eye-opening moments of understanding before switching the story over to crazed villains or hot pirates.

The audiobook production – with its distinctive voices for each contestant, sound effects signaling the end of a CD, and Saturday Night Live-worthy “commercial breaks” – is far more than just a reading of the book. It deservedly won this year’s Audie Award for best narration by an author. An interview with Libba Bray at the end of the audiobook is also humorous and enlightening.

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