Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Continuing Thoughts on Audiobooks

Continuing my thoughts on audiobooks from a few days ago, which you can read here if you haven’t already. I mentioned in that post how I love that audiobooks can bring books alive and make them so much more real. A lot of this is credited to the narrator (and I suppose the director) for how well they tell the story itself. Well, a narrator can also kill a book too, which I’ll highlight in a few examples. These are books that aren’t necessarily bad books, but in my opinion the audiobook was not worth listening to.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, read by Gerard Doyle

I will start off by saying Gerard Doyle has narrated A LOT of audiobooks, and there’s been some that I’ve enjoyed a lot more than Eragon et al, so I don’t entirely blame the narrator for this one. Eragon was always a good example of how I often dislike books that have gotten a lot of hype. I had tried to read it several times, but just hadn’t gotten that into it. So I decided to try the audio, since a lot of times that can get me over the hump. The narration ended up making all of the characters seem rather whiny and weak, and although I slogged all the way through the first book, I did not get any farther in the series. And I have to say that Doyle’s voice for the dragon Sapphira was always completely ridiculous to me.

The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, read by Gerard Doyle

Another fail by Gerard Doyle, although I didn’t realize it until I started writing this post. The Looking Glass Wars, a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, was a book that should have been right up my alley. The synopsis made it sound amazing. And yet listening to it wasn’t so amazing. The urgency of the war was just never there for me. But I enjoyed it enough to try the sequel. Again, not wowed, but now I wanted to find out what happened. So when the third book came out, I simply read it rather than listening to it. And suddenly, the world and characters and plot and motivations became so much more real to me. I ate the book up. To this day I’m still not sure if the third book was so much better than the other two, or if it was the lackluster narration of the first two books that made me not like them so much.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, read by Graeme Malcolm

I think I may be the only person in the entire world who didn’t love this book. It had all the hallmarks of a story I would have loved: a brave mouse knight, a princess in peril, etc. And yet it was rather forgettable to me. I listened to it several years ago and to this day I can remember that I didn’t like it, but not why I didn’t like it. One of the marks of a good audiobook is that it impresses the story into your mind. It’s something you can remember and reflect on. And this one just didn’t do it for me.

The Dispossessed series by Page Morgan, read by Katharine McEwan

I would be remiss if I only included male narrators in this post, so here’s a female narrator I didn’t care for. Although the narration itself didn’t bug me so much, the accents of the individual characters, especially the French characters, was ridiculous to the point of being distracting. Some narrators are more successful than other at creating distinct voices for each character, and let’s just say these books don’t do male characters well at all.

I could dig up more examples of audiobooks that fell short of my expectations, but if you’ve read the blog awhile, you know I don’t like talking a lot about things I didn’t like. I’d rather spend time on positive opinions. So I think I’ll leave the list off there. Now, by all means, feel free to try these audiobooks for yourself. I think audiobooks can be even more subjective than the books themselves, because the listener usually invests a lot more in the story than a reader would (or at least I do). So perhaps the things that bug me won’t bug you at all. Each book definitely has its own advantages, and each reader to his own of course!

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