Kristin K, Reviewer
So much has changed during this year of pandemic—and though we keep talking about what we’ll do when life returns to normal, it’s hard to say what that “normal” will look like. But in the exclusive audiobook Realer, author David Hewson imagines how the pandemic will shape our lives for years to come... Full review published on NightsAndWeekends.com and aired on Shelf Discovery
Reta S, Reviewer
Realer by David Hewson, narrated by Gemma Whelan Thank you to NetGalley and W.F.Howes Ltd for a complimentary Audio ARC for an honest review. Gemma Whelan does an awesome job in narrating this story. She makes the characters convincing and distinguishable. After the what we've lived through during the past year with the Pandemic, this futuristic book isn't so far from reality. With how much we've begun to rely on technology and social media, it makes you wonder who is listening in or watching you at all times. I really enjoyed listening to this suspenseful story. #Realer #NetGalley
janet h, Librarian
I enjoyed this #NetGalley audio, great narration and very topical Realer is set in the UK, following the current pandemic which makes it both addictive and also a very scary read. very very good
Book Trade Professional 612248
A very interesting short novel with a dark, contemporary feel. I really liked the sense of a vast amazon-style business dominating people's lives in a post-covid world. 'Realer' is a mass market virtual reality, a sort of opium for the masses The story is told through Georgie, a lively misfit who's dad has just died while inside Realer. Reluctantly, Georgie begins to investigate. There was a lot to really like - lively narrator, Orwellian atmosphere, and some very creepy characters - notably sinister Arno, her dad's funeral director friend. Understanding Realer itself and it's appeal was a struggle for me on audio. There were rules, kit, avatars, landscape like the real world but 'enhanced', and I couldn't always follow the logic of events. The end, however, was great, moving far into Georgie's future, which worked really well. An intriguing read during lockdown.
Laura Jay - BookClubReporter - S, Reviewer
I found Realer to a well-written, mystery-thriller novel. Award-winning author, David Hewson has penned an engrossing story of Charlie, a teenager. Charlie’s beloved father recently, gifted her with Realer (a popular device, much like the modern day virtual reality headset). However, after the sudden loss of her father, Charlie begins her dangerous quest to uncover her father’s killers in a frightening post-pandemic world.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the publishers and netgalley for a free arc in exchange of an honest review. Gemma whelan is the perfect narrator for this novel, with fantastic range and believable accents for both men and women. The absolute perfect choice and I hope she does more narration! Onto the book: This is beautifully written: dark, relatable, strange. However I knew what was going to happen. I could see from a mile off what would happen and trigger the inciting event and I couldn’t do it to myself. Firstly, if you are triggered by sexual assault and rape I suggest going into this being aware that it happens very soon in the book. For a male author writing about sexual assault, Hewson does a fantastic job of dealing with the disgusting way victims are treated and how Charlie feels about it. However it was a little too much for me. Too real and too raw for myself. It really only got worse since it’s set during the pandemic we are currently facing and my anxiety snakes up my spine and makes me way to cry. So for me this was something that’s well written but personally not for me. I couldn’t cope with it. But I will be search out Hewson’s other work and hoping there’s a bit less in the way of anxiety triggers. Charlie’s dad is beautifully written and heartwarming and I know something bad will happen to him and that should be a crime. If you like gritty sci fi realism then I recommend.
Amie G, Reviewer
With non-stop intrigue, believable technological innovations, a pandemic causing long term lockdowns and the detrimental mental health issues it caused, this story could easily be our near future. There are a variety of social issues tackled in REALER, along with a mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end. David Hewson has created characters that readers will recognize as either similar to themselves or to others they know. If you want to take a look at one of our society's potential futures, this Audiobook is a must listen. I will be looking for more audiobooks narrated by GEMMA WHELAN. She is a professional actress and was a member of the award-winning cast of Game of Thrones. Her acting experience shines through in her narration as she knows exactly what intonation to use for each chapter. Her narration deserves a 5 Star review of its own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It is the combination of great writing, exceptional narration and professional production that combine to make REALER an audiobook not to miss. A 5 Star rating is exactly what this Audiobook deserves. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ *** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this audiobook.
Alyssa R, Reviewer
Such an interesting story that I really enjoyed. I am loving that so many writers are realizing how important it is for so many readers to get an escape during this pandemic, while also still feeling like we are all in this together. This is the first story I have listened to that is set somewhat after/during the pandemic and it is intriguing thinking about how our futures will be. This story also has a huge focus on the ever-growing tech world, which we have seen a huge boost in since the pandemic, with everyone locked inside relying on technology to keep our sanity. The idea of having a Realer is an amazing yet equally terrifying one. I almost wished that the story was a little bit more scary, because I do feel that it had the potential, but it was still a fun listen. I don't think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if not for the narrator. I adored her accent and felt her voice was perfect.
Natalie H, Reviewer
I received an advance reader copy of this audio book to listen to in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers. Realer is a fantasy book based during the current Covid19 pandemic and features a teenage girl who's father gets her a REALER which is a high tech toy that everyone wants but is quite a frightening toy when the story unfolds. The story features a murder, depression, anxiety and phobias and is an amazingly apt book for the current times. I loved how this story unfolded and the clever plotting and twisting throughout the story. What made this book even better was that Gemma Whelan from the award winning Game of Thrones TV series was the narrator and for me she made this a much better listen.
Gregory D, Educator
This is different from the many books I’ve read by David Hewson. For a start it’s set entirely in England (in Yorkshire) and is closer to science fiction than it is to the classic thriller, his usual genre. However, the story is as thrilling and suspenseful as any of his other books and it contains some very effective plot-twists. It is about as timely as a novel can be: the novel is set during a pandemic, in which people all over the world seek relief in the world of virtual reality – one that can seem ‘Realer’ than the real world. The narrator-protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl, Charlotte/Charlie, from a broken family, in a town where nearly everyone works for the great warehouse/factory, which seems to control most people’s lives. In particular, the company produces ‘Realer’ hoods, devices that people use for every possible purpose, including virtual travel. Charlie, who has been traumatised by an attempted assault and never leaves her house, agrees to join her father on a virtual walk through the woods, using the hood that he has given her. During this first ‘excursion’ she witnesses his murder. Distrusting the adult world, Charlie finds herself forced to investigate this murder by herself. It becomes clear that it was no random killing but is connected with the fight for control of the Realer organization – which could effectively mean control of the world. Hewson brilliantly blends the thriller with the futuristic novel – though it is a future that seems dangerously close to us. Charlie, through whose eyes (sometimes mediated via Realer) and voice (a brilliant performance by Gemma Whelan) we experience everything, is a wholly convincing character – and also a highly engaging one. Although she seems worryingly fragile at first, we see her grow both in understanding and in courage. The novel, which comes to a satisfying and touching resolution, works both as a thriller and as a caustic satire on our dependency on social media and corporate-controlled devices. Thanks to NetGalley and W.F. Howe for the audio review copy of REALER.
Laura B, Book Trade Professional
REALER is one of the first books I've come across that visualizes a post-COVID (or at least post-lockdown) world, and Hewson's world is a dystopian, dangerous place. The good news is that while the Northern England setting is bleak, REALER is a thrilling story that I couldn't bear to turn off until I listened to it all. Charlotte "Charlie" Mackintosh is a much-bullied ginger living a drab teenage existence among her lower-class peers. Mom is drunky, her beloved Dad has abandoned the family for no discernible reason, and a creepy guy named Rick has moved into the cottage and her mother's bed. Rick is her dad's supervisor at a warehouse company that sounds a lot like the one that immediately comes up if you type the letter "A" into any search engine. It employs a lot of low-skilled people, but not for long, because the robots are coming. But before the robots, comes Realer. Realer is a kind of virtual/augmented reality mash up that lets you travel anywhere in the world (or atmosphere) without leaving your home--something that a lot of people, like Charlie, have gotten used to because of "the pandemic." Realers are quickly becoming must-haves all over the world. You simply pop on "specs" or a "hood" (the hood image is uber-creepy because it reminds me way too much of hoods put on people about to be executed), and away you go. Charlie's dad gives her a Realer of her own. She's not excited about it, because she'd much rather spend her time drawing birds on paper, or reading books. But she uses it with him to humor him, and to spend time with him. That's when the real trouble starts. On one of her first Realer outings, she sees her father murdered. Charlie has no real adult support in her life. At sixteen, she's not taken seriously by anyone. When the police barely seem interested in her father's murder, she slowly realizes she must take on the investigation herself. Though Charlie is no Nancy Drew with a flashy car and a wealthy parent to bankroll her. Charlie's world is bleak and friendless in the extreme. Fortunately she's smart, and braver than she thinks she is. She dives deep into the Realer world to uncover her father's connection to it, and discover what sort of toy Realer really is. It's fascinating to watch her navigate, trying to figure out whom she can trust (no one, she concludes), and whom she can manipulate or fool into revealing their motives. This is an incredibly timely book, and though the protagonist is only sixteen, it is a cautionary tale that anyone over the age of, say, fifteen will enjoy. It was a bit of a shock to realize how plausible the world of Realer is. If you're like me, you'll run to turn off every microphone in your house, pocket, or purse the moment you finish. Many thanks to NetGalley and W.F. Howe for the audio review copy of REALER.
Mary V, Librarian
I enjoyed this #NetGalley audio, narrated by the wonderfully talented Gemma Whelan, immensely. Realer is set in the UK, following the current pandemic. Fun, unputdownable read.
Stacy S, Librarian
4+ stars Thanks to NetGalley and W.F. Howes for an advanced audio book in exchange for an honest review. Realer is a very timely novel set in a post covid world. Charlie Mackintosh is a 16 year old girl who is a bit of a loner. Her parents recently split up and she lives with her vacant mom and boyfriend. All three adults work at an Amazon type warehouse which also sells Realer, a virtual reality headset. Charlie’s father is killed and she sets out to solve his murder. There is a lot of great material here—fragile economies post-pandemic, data collection, virtual reality, contract workers at constant risk of losing their livelihoods and big brother digital monitoring to name a few. The ending was very satisfying as it went to great lengths to complete the story. Excellent narration by Gemma Whelan.