The New Naturals

Hachette Audio. Nov. 2023. 8:52 hrs. ISBN 9781668632666. $24.99. F
Bump’s sophomore effort (following Everywhere You Don’t Belong) starts with an intriguing premise. Rio and her husband Gibraltar suffer a devastating loss, prompting Rio to conceive of an experimental utopian society where individuals can find safety and acceptance. A generous benefactor emerges, and Rio’s vision gains momentum. The story then jumps around to a series of other characters, exploring their struggles and why they might be good candidates for this new society. Inevitably, funding dries up for Rio’s utopian dream. Unfortunately, the novel’s frequent shifts in point of view result in a disjointed listening experience. Despite these hiccups, Robin Miles’s narration shines, particularly in her portrayal of Bump’s strong women characters. Her ability to navigate the intricacies of relationships and interactions also extends to secondary characters; she manages multiple storylines, where some characters intersect with each other while others do not. She has a knack for capturing each character’s inner turmoil and external struggles.
VERDICT Bump’s novel might falter in its narrative cohesion, but Miles’s exceptional narration lends coherence and depth to this imaginative tale, which delves into issues of class, race, idealism, and community. For fans of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout.
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