I’m glad I discovered my love of audiobooks in 2021, it has definitely added another range to storytelling for me.
The Upper World
Esso is running out of time and into trouble. After he is accidentally caught up in a gang war, he is haunted by a vision of a bullet fired in an alleyway with devastating consequences.
A generation later, fifteen-year-old football prodigy Rhia is desperately searching for answers—and a catastrophic moment from the past holds the key to understanding the parents she never got to meet.
Whether on the roads of South London or in the mysterious Upper World, Esso and Rhia’s fates must collide.
And when they do, a race against the clock will become a race against time itself…
As soon as I saw the cover for this book I was intrigued, because it is exceptionally eye-catching, and then I read the blurb and I knew that I wanted to read it. I have to say that The Upper World is definitely not what I expected it to be, I was kind of thinking it would be very futuristic otherworldly but it’s actually very grounded in this world with a blend of science fiction elements, which worked really well.
Both the characters voices were so strong from the start and whilst both are integral to the story I have to say that it took a bit of time for me to connect with Esso’s point of view. I think that might be because I was expecting something a bit different to start with, whereas with Rhia’s point of view the sci-fi elements that I was expecting were introduced really quickly. Thankfully it didn’t take long for me to get into the rhythm of the story and even though I struggled with some of the physics, which I think I might have got my head around a little easier if I was looking at it rather than listening, eventually I was utterly gripped by the story.
I don’t want to say too much about the story because everything is so interconnected and it’s something that you want to properly experience for yourself, but I loved how atmospheric it was, I could feel the confusion from the characters as they faced things they couldn’t explain and the desperation as they have to deal with their discoveries whilst also navigating problems in their own lives. There is definitely an edge of your seat feeling as this story starts to make its way toward the conclusion, I did not want to stop listening, and I don’t think I can describe how tense I felt as I waited to see how it would play out.
The narration is fantastic Tom Moutchi and Weruche Opia do an amazing job of bringing these characters to life, it was great to hear the accents that the characters would have, helped to define the sense of place and immersed me fully in the story. I also quite liked that there were some other subtle sound effects and music that was added in in the background, it added an extra tension in the story.
The Upper World is an amazing debut I think it will appeal to a lot of readers, even those who maybe wouldn’t usually pick up a sci-fi book, and I’m excited to see what Femi Fadugba comes up with next.