Mari is an unusual tale in that there’s no speculative or genre elements to be found anywhere. It’s more literary than anything, and something rarely seen in contemporary audible medium.
What makes this such a unique experience is the narrator. More than 3/4 of this story is told in first person POV, which occasional dips into second person. The dips are a bit jarring at first, but they happen seldom. With the divide amongst fans about what makes an audio drama, the use of narration is one of the key factors many people point to as being something which can ruin a good audio drama. Perhaps ruin is too strong a word, but you get the idea.
The main character, Mari, loves books and waxes philosophic on the books she’s read and the writers of great literature. There’s even some singing, though not a full musical number in case you were wondering. Mari works as a custodian in the library just so she can be near all the books. That’s where the story falls apart.
Seeing as how this work as no genre fiction elements, there’s no plot to be found. It’s purely a character study of Mari. Again, it’s literary and there’s nothing wrong with that. The beginning is filled with exposition and by far the hardest part for your mind to process both intellectually and as a passive listener. You really can’t listen this while your mind is elsewhere. This is true of most audiobooks in my opinion, unless you have the text in front of you.
There is dialogue, but like the dips into second person point of view, the scenes with two people speaking to one another are short and serve only one purpose to further what little plot there is.
Once you get to the middle, however, holy crap does it ramp up the drama. At that moment, you’ll know why you spent so long getting to know Mari. She has her own quirks that make her two-dimensional character biography three-dimensional and once the . It’s not a “holy crap I never saw that coming” ending, but everything from the middle onward is pure gold on a dramatic level.