Tne World of Pondside by Mary Helen Stefaniak (Audio Book / Fiction)

Writing: 3/5 Characters: 4/5 Plot: 3.5/5
A rather bizarre story about an “old geezers” home, an online game designed to allow players to experience things their (old geezer) bodies no longer allow, and Robert (the game’s designer) — a (youngish) man near the end of his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

While initially appearing as a murder mystery (Robert’s body — in wheelchair — is discovered in the pond at the very beginning), it’s really more of a novel following the lives of a set of pretty interesting characters ranging from the “kitchen boy” to the facility’s frustrated director, the nurses and CNAs, and of course, the many inhabitants — all in different states of physical or mental decline.

I listened to this on audio — the reader was very good. It was a little bit slow with more filler than I like, although once I realized it wasn’t actually a murder mystery, the filler magically turned into character development and I was happier. Quite a bit of the story revolved around the “kitchen boy” — who had helped Robert implement the game. A high school dropout who was a bit of a loner, I found him likable but kind of slow for my taste. Still, he did develop nicely giving a kind of hopeful view about those who don’t have an easy time making their way in our society.

Overall an interesting listen (I would probably have preferred to read as I could have made my way through it much faster, and it wouldn’t have felt so slow paced).

Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book was published on April 19th, 2022.