Jun 14, 2016
Review: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (Unabridged Audio Version)
When a successful, happily married father of a young daughter offers to host his younger brother bachelor party, Richard Chapman thought it would be a harmless night of drinking and would make his brother happy that he'd opened his beautiful home to his friends. He'd even convinced his wife, Kristin, to consent and it was decided that she and their daughter would go to her mother's apartment in Manhattan for the night. The 'Bachelor' was the more rowdy of the two brothers so Richard wasn't too surprised when he found out that one one of his brother's friends had hired a couple strippers. But right away Richard felt the two exotic-looking girls were not your regular bachelor party strippers. The fact that they were accompanied by two very large Russian bodyguards made Richard even more nervous. As the night wore on, the men got drunker and the girls were doing more than stripping. Suddenly all hell broke loose, knives were drawn, blood was shed and by the end the two Russians were lying dead in the Chapman's living room and the girls were no where to be found. In the aftermath of the chaos, Richard's once perfect life would be threatened on several fronts: the Russian mob, blackmail, unemployment. Not to mention his wife was contemplating divorce. He could lose everything yet he couldn't stop thinking about Alexandra, the girl with the black hair, and if she was safe.
My Thoughts on the Story:
Surprisingly, this is the first novel by Chris Bohjalian that I've ever read. I've heard so much praise for his work from fellow bloggers/readers for many years so my expectations were pretty high. When choosing this book, I will admit the subject matter of sex trafficking did give me pause. It's a very disturbing issue and very relevant to our times and I wasn't sure I wanted to go there, but I ultimately did. I easily found myself immersed in the story and since there weren't a lot of characters it was easy listening. Things happened pretty quickly and I was very tuned in to the story. But for me, about half-way through it slowed and I found myself waiting for something more dramatic to happen. That's not to say there weren't dramatic parts, but I guess I was just expecting more. Events near the end of the book both baffled and surprised me, in good and bad ways. Having heard such wonderful things from Bohjalian's fans, I was expecting a deeper, more involved story and I just didn't get that.
My Thoughts on the Audio Performance:
The two narrators, Mozhan Marno and Grace Experience did very good jobs of bringing these characters to life, especially the part of Alexandra, the Russian girl. She made me totally believe her character. Her accent was perfection. Looking back, I'm glad I chose the audio version for this book because I may have become distracted if I were reading the print version during the (much) slower parts.
The bottom line for me is that it was a good listen but a little underwhelming considering all the hype about Bohjalian's work I'd heard for years. My question is: Is this typical of all his books? Or is this one an exception? I will have to read another Bohjalian novel to answer those questions. And I certainly will, maybe in print the next time to see if that affects my opinion at all. Clearly, his fans loved this book but unfortunately, for me, it was just OK.
THE GUEST ROOM (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: January 2016
Length: 10 Hrs 10 Mins
Source: Purchased via Audible