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Post apocalyptic narrative has seen a real resurgence of late. Zombies, plague, aliens, nuclear winter, etc. It's hard to put one's finger on what makes stories of 'starting over in a new paradigm' so attractive, but they are. Pinborough's premise is a delightfully creepy one - women giving birth to something utterly horrific. The story plays with themes of motherhood, the way male partners of pregnant women feel a sort of alienation, misogyny, etc. but only on a very superficial level.
The ubiquitous 'band of brother' travelers seeking sanctuary from the dangers of the post-apocalyptic world are a pretty unremarkable lot in Pinborough's book. There is, as usual, the experienced older man, the fatally injured person who makes the seeking of sanctuary vital, the innocent child, and, of course, the traitorous bastard who will put everyone else's life at risk just...er... because. The best post-apocalyptic stories are really about stripping the world bare of civilities in order to examine human motivation at its rawest and most desperate. Who will emerge as heroic, who will reveal themselves to have hidden wisdom, who will be the coward. Unfortunately, one major flaw in Breeding Ground was that the hero is spectacularly unheroic. He's stunningly stupid, he's a physical coward and his hormones don't seem to obey any of the normal laws of nature. I understand the need for a love story, but his reasons for the women he chooses seem to be staggeringly opportunistic. The archetypal coward was all too predictable and identifiable from the moment we meet him. We hate him from the beginning. We're never offered any depth of insight into why he's the way he is. He's just the stock coward.
Despite the compelling premise, Pinborough really doesn't do more than surf on it and follow through the post-apocalyptic survival experience in an unoriginal way. The only exception to this, for which she does deserve praise, is the story's very ambiguous and un-Hollywoodish ending.
But the greatest let down to the story on audio is the narration. It's not that Lyssa Graham is a bad narrator, but she was a terrible choice for this novel. The story is set in England and she's got a very strong American accent and a propensity to mispronounce things like Edinburgh (as ed-in-burg). The other problem is that the story in written through the first person POV of a male protagonist. If there was more than one POV in the novel, it would have probably been less noticeable, but in this case there is only one, written in first person, and it's a man.
Perhaps had a more suitable narrator been chosen for this audiobook, I would have been less critical. I honestly don't know.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
It wasn't the best but not terrible either.
If you’ve listened to books by Sarah Pinborough before, how does this one compare?
This is her best one.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
It was well performed and dramatic.
Was Breeding Ground worth the listening time?
I think so. It isn't great but it is entertaining and amusing at times.