The Strangers – Audio Book Review

Greystone Secrets #1 by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Narrated by Jorjeana Marie
Published on: April 2, 2019

I had previously seen The Strangers as well as the next in the series The Deceivers, but never added it to my to-be-read list. However, when it became one the finalists for middle grade book of the year in GoodReads 2019 Choice Awards, I thought perhaps it was time that I should pick it up. It didn’t end up winning – The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan did and I suspect one day I’ll add that one to my list too.

Description:

What makes you you?

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children reach the Greystone kids, and they’re shocked by the startling similarities between themselves and these complete strangers. The other kids share their same first and middle names. They’re the same ages. They even have identical birthdays. Who, exactly, are these strangers?

Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a sudden work trip and leaves them in the care of Ms. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.

Thoughts:

The story begins when the children come home one day to find their mother a bit distraught. Something is clearly bothering her as she listens to the TV or radio where they are stating that three children have been kidnapped – three siblings from Arizona with identical first and middle names as well as ages/birth dates of each of the Greystone children. That night Chess overhears his mom talking to someone named “Joe” saying he “needed to fix it.” The next day when the kids get up to go to school their mom tells them she has a business trip in Chicago she needs to go on and will be gone for a few days, but she has found someone to take care of them – the mother of another student. Things are strange as they only receive texts from their mom on the first day gone, but the kids very quickly discover that their mom has prewritten the texts and timed when they will be sent out with the last one saying that she is sorry she can’t come back home.

Before reading this book, I read one review that said it was best to go into this story blind. I can somewhat see what they might be saying, but sometimes it’s nice to know at least what sub-genre you might be picking up. Historical fiction? Fantasy? This one is very unusual to me because it touches a topic or subject in science fiction that can be difficult to relay to the readers – even in adult books. While reading it, my immediate thoughts reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time. While The Strangers is clearly not the same book, it reminded me of when I was in 5th grade watching the book through a film projector (not a movie, but scenes with narration). As I watched A Wrinkle in Time, I remember trying to grasp the concepts it was portraying to us because it was so foreign to me. This is one of those books where there is an unusual concept to grasp, but I think it was explained and shown just about as well as it could be.

Audio Book Review:

Intense. That’s at least what it felt like for me when listening to the story on audio. The story is written in 3 POVs: Chess, Emma, and Finn, who are the three Greystone children in the story. As the children each tell the story from their point of view we get this overall sense of urgency and seriousness as they try to uncover what is really going on and how to get their mother back. The audio book really seemed to portray this very well as I had to stop it sometimes just to get an emotional and mental break. Who knew middle grade audio books could have such an effect?

My favorite character to listen to was Finn, who is the youngest. The narrator really created a terrific child-like voice to portray him. I could immediately tell it was Finn narrating when it came to be his turn. He was also the one who provided emotional breaks for me while listening as his take on things were sometimes rather cute to listen to.

Overall, this was an engaging story to listen to that I think fans of A Wrinkle in Time might enjoy or for those who are looking for books where life is just a little bit off and not quite settled.

Length: 7hrs 56 minutes

Rating: 5 stars

Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, hosted by Greg Pattridge at Always in the Middle

9 thoughts on “The Strangers – Audio Book Review

    1. Definitely give them a try! Not every audio book is awesome, but they really can bring a story to life if you get the right story and narrator. I loved the Nevermoor series on audio and Gemma Whelan has so many different voices that I could almost ‘see’ each character when she acted it out.

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  1. Completely Full Bookshelf

    This sounds like such an original story—I’m already curious about what exactly is going on! Thanks for the recommendation (and for the audiobook review as well)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a good book and I am looking forward to the next one when it comes out, although I’m not sure my heart will be able to handle it. I was reading the synopsis of it and it’s clear that the series is going to keep up with the intensity. But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that I reacted to an audio version differently than I would have if I had just read the book instead.

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  2. What a suspense-filled story! I don’t know what to think. I had trouble with A Wrinkle in Time — it just didn’t resonate with me like it did with other readers. So I wonder about this story. Great review! I listen to audio books on trips.

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    1. I’m with you on A Wrinkle in Time. When younger it didn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but there were parts that have just stuck with me for how unusual their concept was. I remember the part where all the kids or neighbors are doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. Afterward, I believe my teacher discussed this section with us on how it was trying to show what ‘equality’ is and isn’t. I still think about it to this day. Thankfully, The Strangers isn’t abstract like A Wrinkle in Time is to me.

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  3. Very intriguing review and the details provided have me itching to read it (or listen) to it soon. I’ve enjoyed most of the author’s previous works and this story sounds great. Thanks for featuring on this week’s MMGM.

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