Title: Starting with the Unexpected
Author: Andi Van and Jonathan David (narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 8th, 2016
Genre(s): MM Contemporary, Romance
Length: 4h 51min
Reviewed by: PrinCkhera
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Zachary Blaise is having a weird week—even by his standards. Though he’s gay, the radio personality has been dumped via text by a girl named Marian—and he’s never even met her. On top of that, he’s developed a massive crush on Marcus, the new waiter at his favorite diner. His best friend thinks the whole thing is hilarious.
Marcus’s week hasn’t been his best either. He’s been betrayed by those closest to him, and although he isn’t the guilty party, Marcus is the one getting harassed.
Impossibly, things are about to get even weirder. Marian has secrets, and those secrets are going to make some serious ripples in Zach’s life. When he discovers that the girl called Marian is actually the man named Marcus, Zach stumbles down a rabbit hole of abusive ex-boyfriends, psychotic relatives, and revelations from his own past. If he can survive the chaos, the journey might prove worth the effort.
This was my first audiobook… ever, and as far as books go I’m glad it was this one.
At first it was hard to get into, primarily because the narrator felt a bit stilted, at least when he was reciting the texts and doing the dialogue (for any character).
It felt really awkward listening to him at times when there was high-strung drama filling the room, and you needed to feel the emotion that those situations would throw at you. For example when you’re angry, upset or even making love. Suffice it to say, it irked me quite a bit, but as the story progressed I got more and more used to a story being told to me in this manner. Putting the narrator aside… The story itself?
At times I remember having this silly grin on my face as I listened onwards and it just made me happy.
Did I see the drama coming?
Yes. (To Zach’s credit – so did he, for the most of it at least.)
Was it obvious where this was going?
Did it matter to how much I liked the book?
That’s because regardless of knowing where the storyline was headed, it still brought out all the emotions that the author was going for. I felt extremely pissed off at Marcus’s family, felt proud of Zach for being there for his boyfriend, and so much more.
Zach was amazing. He kind of embodies a number of gay stereotypes (drama queen being one of them) but I loved him for it. He’s extremely open (admirable) and has an amazing family who takes in Marcus as one of their own when they meet him. To Marcus, who’d been neglected by his own family, this felt remarkable and I felt in awe. More parents need to be like this.
Being with Zach brought out the real Marcus, and he was so unlike the other characters I tend to come across. For one thing – usually when there’s a mistaken/secret identity plot going on, the author decides to factor that in and make it a big part of an inevitable conflict that we all saw coming. Andi Van chose not to, and I’m glad he did. His openness definitely endeared him to me right away, and seeing (hearing) him and Zach together just felt right.
I mean, Marcus had just gotten out of a relationship (obviously, one that had not ended well) and Zach gave him space, time and room to breathe. Something you tend to miss in quite a few stories where the MCs just jump into bed right away, not that a great story doesn’t come out of that, but going slow when one of the MCs is still vulnerable is still something that should happen more often than not.
… Well, at least he tried to give Marcus space but they were so obviously meant to be together it did not last long.
I would definitely recommend reading the story. Listening to the audiobook version on the other hand, I don’t know. It may be because this was my first audiobook (ever) and every narrator is like this, but I wasn’t a fan. Yes, I did enjoy it. It was great to listen to the story on my way to school, and on my way back… Even when I was doing the dishes or when I didn’t feel like sleeping, but also didn’t feel like doing anything productive. It’s just that what I liked was the story. That’s what kept me going. Putting aside the moments when he did the dialogue for any of the characters (or the texts in the beginning), overall Jonathan David did well as a narrator, I think.