May 16, 2020

This Week's Audiobook Recommendation

by Melinda Rose

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo

This is either the best time or the worst time to read Ilze Hugo's The Down Days, depending on how you look at things. Unless she's an incredibly fast writer with some super-highway to editing and publishing, Ms. Hugo started this story well before the current situation began. In her write-up on John Scalzi’s blog ( she talks about being fascinated with the way viruses and pandemics shape culture. In this story, it's years after a major pandemic hit Cape Town, South Africa. The residents are isolated from the rest of the world, and finding new ways to survive; some jobs have become obsolete and people are making a living in ways they wouldn't have imagined in the "before times". Wearing masks, and regular mandatory med checks have become a way of life.

There are several main characters, and the audiobook splits up the narration in an interesting way, with Gideon Emery reading the male POV's and Bianca Amato reading the female POV's. Both performers are excellent, and it works well with the pacing of the story, which takes place over one week.  The narration switches rapidly between the characters whose lives all end up intersecting, as they solve mysteries of missing persons while questioning reality. It culminates in a dramatic and surprising climax.

This is not exactly an uplifting story, as everyone is carrying around a deep sense of loss and fear, but it does have elements of hope and redemption. And it may well be the relatable disaster cozy you've been looking for.

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