Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons

Title: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons
Creator: Ashli St. Armant, also known as Jazzy Ash
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publisher: Audible
Length: 4 hrs. 5 min.
Genre: Mystery

Summary: Viva Durant, New Orleans’ youngest detective is on a quest to solve a jazzy mystery involving hidden treasure, while exploring the city’s unique culture, history and music. This family-friendly Audible Original features original jazz music from the creator, Ashli St. Armant, and enthusiastic narration from world class Audible narrator, Bahni Turpin. Plucky 14-year-old Viva Durant heads to New Orleans every summer to spend time with her loving but stern grandmother, known as Gram. After Gram reads Viva an article in the local paper about a missing treasure related to the world-famous song, “Miss Mary Mack,” Viva traverses the Crescent City on an epic adventure to solve the mystery. Along the way she meets some of the city’s most colorful characters as her journey takes her to the French Quarter, a jazz club, a creepy cemetery, and even the circus.

Review: From the beginning, this sounded professional. This book comes with all of the bells and whistles one could possibly want. There are sound effects and the narrator does a great job with the various voices in a very natural sounding way. It's hard to believe it's one person.

The story itself is engaging. Viva is captivated by the story of the black dress and silver buttons. This leads her through the streets of New Orleans. Curious, I opened Google Maps and as I suspected, using street view, I could locate and see many of the places Viva was visiting. That's a bonus if readers think to do that. Of course the story was complete and the visuals weren't necessary, but it was certainly a fun activity.

Viva is 14, but to me seemed a bit younger. She is hesitant at the beginning and it's nice to see her becoming more and more independent and adventurous as the story progresses. The mystery has a few twists and turns and kept my attention. It comes in at just over four hours, so is not a big time investment.

If I had a complaint, it was Viva's way of creating a song to memorize facts. The songs were not meant to be very stunning musically, but they were a little annoying after a while. I also didn't understand why one would need memory devices when there is a cell phone handy that can photograph or even make an audio recording or store information in any number of ways. That was one part of the story that seemed to be a bit of a stumble.

Recommendation: This would be an excellent story for people looking for audiobooks that are interesting for a wide range of ages. It would work well for family trips. I feel like teenagers may not be the best audience as they would likely find some of this too contrived, but it's great for elementary ages. I think some adults might also enjoy it for the strolls through New Orleans if nothing else.



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