K's Reviews > Night Road

Night Road by Kristin Hannah
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did not like it
bookshelves: audiobooks, chicklit, couldntfinish, maybe-it-s-me, marysues


I know I probably didn't give this enough of a chance. Maybe it would have gotten better. But the other audiobook I was waiting for came in, so it is without any regret whatsoever that I bid this one adieu.

The first thing I noticed about this book was how overwritten it was. Way, way too many adjectives. Kristin Hannah seems to have graduated the Babysitter's Club school of overdescription and ham-fisted characterization. You know how in the Babysitter's Club books the author tells you what they were all wearing, because your sixth grade heart is fascinated by their outfits which, of course, offer deep insight into the characters' complex personalities? Yeah. Just like that.

So of course, the two parents in this book are beautiful with a honeymoonesque marriage and live in a gorgeous house. Jude, the mother, loves tending her orderly garden because of the predictability -- gee, do you think she might be a control freak? I dunno; maybe I need to be hit over the head just a little more with these obvious metaphors. Well, no problem -- conveniently, Jude and her husband get into a discussion right away about Jude's overparenting where Jude's husband decides to list off all the things Jude does for her children on a daily basis. Yup, just like the kind of conversation my husband and I have all the time. Don't worry, readers, we characters don't know you're there -- we just feel this compelling need to recount our everyday behaviors in this spontaneous discussion.

And then there's Lexie, the teenage foster child who's been traumatized repeatedly and just wants someone to love her. She's instantly lovable, of course, no limit-testing or risk-taking or attitude or other difficult behaviors foster children frequently present with (perfectly understandable in the context of what they've been through, just not so easy to live with). But lovable Lexie wouldn't do anything like that, because the reader is meant to have her heartstrings pulled and Lexie's acting difficult might add unwanted complexity. Lexie's aging great-aunt who recently learned of her existence is similarly lovable and loving -- oh, sure, she always wanted a child and is immediately prepared to sacrifice everything for Lexie's sake. No resentment or even ambivalence at this unexpected disruption of her old age and drain on her finances.

This may be the fault of the audiobook reader, but the teenager -- Mia? Oh. My. God. I suppose it's not Kristin Hannah's fault that the audiobook reader decided to read all of Mia's lines in a squeaky, ditzy, Minnie Mouse voice but it just emphasized Mia's over-the-top neediness and insecurity. Yow. Spare me.

I could go on. I did get further in the book, but I think I've pretty much given you a taste of why I'm stopping. This writing style is incredibly off-putting to me, and although it's possible the book gets better, I really don't have the patience if there's something with (hopefully) more potential for me to read. Kristin Hannah and I are just not meant to be, it seems.
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2013 – Shelved
February 3, 2013 – Shelved as: chicklit
February 3, 2013 – Shelved as: audiobooks
February 3, 2013 –
0.0% "Not working for me. Overwritten. Simplistic and emotionally manipulative. Very heavy-handed characterization. But I guess I'll keep reading. Maybe it will get better."
February 4, 2013 – Shelved as: maybe-it-s-me
February 4, 2013 – Shelved as: marysues
March 8, 2016 – Shelved as: couldntfinish

Comments Showing 1-50 of 68 (68 new)

message 1: by M (new)

M Kristin Hannah??? Why did you even bother???

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I know, right? I totally wouldn't have but someone said it was more complex than the usual mom chick lit. It might have been had I stuck with it, but I couldn't get past the writing.

message 3: by M (new)

M Her writing is so miserable. I recently saw a book of hers rated highly on GR and almost fell for it til I remembered who we were dealing with here. Yuck!

message 4: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I don't plan to make that mistake again, though who knows? I'm willing to be a little more flexible when it comes to audio, because not needing to concentrate is a plus.

message 5: by M (new)

M Yeah I hear that.

rivka I enjoy her books (haven't gotten to this one yet, but I will eventually), but I still find your review greatly entertaining.

message 7: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Rivka! I always appreciate that kind of openness. If you end up reading this, I hope you enjoy it more than I did. Lots of goodreaders did, so you wouldn't be alone.

rivka I read (and enjoy) OODLES more chick lit than you do, so I wouldn't be surprised.

message 9: by Kinga (new)

Kinga Great review, Khaya!

Yes, bring the snark out.

message 10: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Kinga! I love your snarky reviews too!

message 11: by Jane (new)

Jane Thanks for saving me from this one. You discribed all the things I can't stand in fiction. Great review!

Renee Khaya - I just recently read this book, and I really, really liked it. Your points are completely true though, and I could see how this book is definitely emotionally manipulative and over-written. But, you know, sometimes in some books, this actually works for me. This is the fourth (I think), KH book I have read, and while some were terrible, this was actually one that I enjoyed. I look at these books like Lifetime Movies. Completely over-done, but sometimes good for some mindless reading. And, this book actually made me think about the choices of over involvement in childrens' lives (especially as my children are entering their teenage years).

message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Khaya, I was so entertained by your review!

message 14: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K @Jane & Lisa -- thanks! I live for goodreads compliments! ;)

@Renee -- I'm really glad you liked the book, and clearly you're not alone -- the book has a very high goodreads ratings from lots and lots of readers, so the problem may be me rather than the book. I completely know what you mean about how some books are enjoyable despite their flaws. I always cite Water for Elephants and Outlander as books that I really enjoyed even though many goodreaders -- aptly, I must admit -- snarked at them and dismissed them as glorified Harlequins. Everyone has their own guilty reading pleasures, and one person's trash is another one's treasure as they say. These things are entirely subjective. As long as we're free to express our opinions and open to hearing differing ones, that's what matters.

message 15: by Susan KG (new)

Susan KG I guess that this discussion helps me to remember that I try to take Goodreads ratings with a grain of salt. That's why I depend so much on well-written reviews - I just wish I could be more conscientious about writing them! Thanks, Khaya. Night Road sounds like a book that I'll skip!

message 16: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Susan! The majority certainly disagreed with me on this one, but I feel safe discouraging you since you and I seem to have similar tastes.

message 17: by Susan KG (last edited Feb 11, 2013 10:12AM) (new)

Susan KG Your well-written reviews have helped me to find many engrossing books that I might not have found on my own. However, we do part company on Freedom! I could not get through that book! The level of the characters' self adsorption prevented me from seeing any strengths in the book. I gave up after 150 pages, which I think was giving the book a fair chance. Perhaps this discussion belongs on the page with your Freedom review. On the other hand, I am not sure that I want to open up old wounds! And so many people loved it, including a dear daughter who raved about it. At the time I thought that perhaps it was a generational thing, but it turned out that a couple of women in my book group also enjoyed it. It's always interesting to learn what draws individuals to a book. I am glad that for the most part our tastes in books tend to coincide!

message 18: by Kinga (new)

Kinga Oh yes. Everybody in my book group loved Freedom too, and I had to stand alone hating it.

message 19: by Riya (new)

Riya Home Front is the only Kristin Hannah book that I ever read and I have no desire to read any of her other books. Her writing is so cliched and emotionally manipulative; I really don't understand how people can read her books and LIKE them.

message 20: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K The two I've read haven't worked for me, but they seem to be pretty popular on goodreads.

FrozenbySloth Hey, I read this one yesterday and kept trolling GR for reviews below three stars.
I didn't hate the book and I don't even strongly dislike KH's style
(though I see where you're coming from)... but the rating is pitifully unreal.
I read Winter Garden recently, and quite liked the history of it, so I thought
I'd read another one of her books. And to me personally, the part around the accident
was the best part, so if you read that far, you haven't really missed anything later on.
In spite of agreeing with you on her characters and over-descriptiveness, I'll give her
all of that. But the pacing and her inability to assess which parts need to be rushed
and which ones are worth exploring are, when I look back on the book, the real downfall of it. Also, I know it's supposed to be a tough topic, but the melodrama got a bit high. Haha, sorry for posting a whole review as a comment. Anyway, it was nice reading your opinion.

message 22: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Hi, FrozenbySloth, thanks for your comment! I love comments from people who disagree with me but are seeking an interesting discussion as opposed to simply wanting to carp at me for having the nerve to dislike the book. I read "Winter Garden" and liked the historical parts but not the present-day storyline. It was interesting to read your opinion of this book, and I know what you mean about the pacing. It's a criticism I often have of many novels I read. I don't think I'll be trying Kristin Hannah again, but if you happen to read one of hers that you think is far superior to the two we've both read maybe I'll reconsider.

Janice I wish I had read this review before picking up the audiobook from the library. I couldn't get past the 3rd disc, I was constantly rolling my eyes at the characters and finally had enough. It's not often that I give up on a book, but this was torturous.

message 24: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Janice! Glad it's not just me.

message 25: by Lilocosa (new)

Lilocosa I'm on Disc 6 of Night Road, so almost half-way through, and seriously debating whether or not to finish. If I could give Jude a little slap
upside the head, I'd feel much better. She's the most annoying character I've met in years--sooo unlikable!

message 26: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thank you! I completely agree. Very validating to hear.

Diane Bowling It took me a long time to get into this book. Too cheesy in the beginning but by the middle, it was good. Emotionally exhausting though, sad, depressing. I will say I have read other Kristin Hannah books that were excellent!

message 28: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Diane. Maybe I'll give her another chance at some point.

Diane Bowling If you try her again, read Winter Garden!

message 30: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Winter Garden is the only other book of hers I've read. I liked the part of the story that took place in Russia but didn't care for the present-day narrative.

Kasey I loved this book. But I respect your opinion. If you have never had friends like these, you wouldn't understand the closeness. Jude did irritate me to no end, but she does realize the error of her ways.

message 32: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Kasey. I always appreciate comments from people who disagree but express it politely. I'm glad you liked the book.

message 33: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I'm listening to the audiobook right now. I can totally see your point. Although, I've read this book and it's for sure a 5+star book for me. Had I not read it first, I think I wouldn't be that into it just listening to the audio version.

I've recently purchased audio versions of all my absolute favorite books. I can't get over how many of them I would have rated lower had I not read it first! So far there are only 3 outstanding audio versions of my favorites. Amazing how a bad audio version completely dampens an outstanding book!

message 34: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Yes, listening on audio is definitely a factor that changes the experience. Interestingly, I've also listened to books where the audio was so well done that I suspect I rated them higher than I would have in print. It cuts both ways.

message 35: by Devon (new) - rated it 1 star

Devon Fett It does not get better. I have read other Kristen Hannah books that start out week and cheesy but pick up some substance half way though. That never happened in this book. It is completely predictable.

message 36: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Devon. Glad to hear I was right not to stick with it!

Margaret I agree with your comment, and will only add, it did get better... if just a little.

message 38: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Margaret. I'm glad if it did get better, though I don't think I'll be trying it again.

Shirley Mytnowych I'm glad I'm not the only one that found the narrator's voice to mimic sweet little animals in a Disney movie!!!

message 40: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K You and me both!

Kathleen I am having the same problems with this book. I'm about halfway through and am waiting foi
for it to get better. I loved The Nightingale and Winter Garden.

message 42: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I didn't read The Nightingale. I was ambivalent about Winter Garden but definitely enjoyed parts of it more than I enjoyed this book. I'm sorry to hear you're not enjoying it either.

Pamela I could not agree more with everything in your review. The narrator was awful!!! That squeaky, whiny voice drove me over the edge. I gave up on the audiobook version of Nightingale too because I didn't like the narrator. I hope to pick it up in book form at some point because people do rave about Kristin Hannah and Nightingale.

message 44: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Pamela! It's validating to hear that I wasn't the only one who hated Mia's voice. I know people rave about Kristin Hannah, but she hasn't been a good fit for me. I hope you have better luck with her books.

rivka I enjoy Kristin Hannah, but her books are not great literature or anything. And I'm not surprised they don't always translate well into audiobooks -- specific narrators aside.

message 46: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K It's always interesting which books work well in audio and which ones don't. While I usually enjoy print books more than audio, I've also had the experience of specifically enjoying the audio rendering of the book more than I liked the book itself (e.g., "The Help"). I can't always predict how that will go, though.

Danielle Lawson I didn't do this one as an audiobook. If you have time to sit and read the book, in full, I recommend it. She writes emotions so well.

message 48: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K Thanks, Danielle. Not sure how much of my experience was affected by the audio but maybe I would have felt differently about it in print.

Sheila Try Every 15 Minutes by Kristin Hannah. First one I read. So different. I'm not audiobook listener at all and I understand about the reader using a different voice for the characters. If I ever listen to one I just want it read aloud not performed.

message 50: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I’ll have to check that one out. Thanks for the suggestion!

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