"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis
I'm not entirely sure how to review an audiobook. To me reviewing a regular print book is a lot less subjective because it's easier to evaluate the finer technical points of the writing when I'm seeing the words right in front of me than when I'm listening to them in the background (e.g. doing other work and reading at the same time :O). Or maybe I'm just uncomfortable reviewing audiobooks because I haven't listened to them much in the past. Either way, I thought I'd share some thoughts with y'all about the audiobooks I've read recently.
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein; read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell | Goodreads
Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.
Funny story: So Code Name Verity was released when I was still a newbie blogger, and I didn't know how to manage e-galleys. I read the first few pages, but wasn't entirely "feeling" the novel, so I thought I'd wait a little before returning to it. The galley expired. I had no idea what to do.
I'm glad that I didn't read the print. Code Name Verity starts off a little slowly and sometimes gets into the technical details of piloting planes, so I may have gotten bored while reading this via text only and I may have missed out on a great book because of that. To anyone who abandoned Code Name Verity for the same reason, you might want to try the audio. What makes the audio so great are the two narrators. They are perfectly voiced. When I read novels, I don't necessarily have a picture of what the characters sound like in my head -- sometimes I do, but I haven't found the right words to describe the characters. This is how I would imagine Maddie and Verity. The narrators do an amazing job portraying their emotions: Verity's desperation and exhaustion, and Maddie's amusement and cheerfulness; every little emotion, and not just those. Songs are included twice in the narrative, and both times I got shivers. They are not only amazing at voice these characters' emotions but also amazing at singing and eliciting a reaction in you.
Reading this audiobook, I understand why the book got such praise. The characterization is fantastic - even the villains, particularly the Nazi interrogator, get developed; the SS agent is believable and realistic without being any less scary or determined in his cause. The plot has plenty of twists. I liked the second half of the novel more because it gave me a code to understand the first half (and again, to anyone who got bored, maybe you can power through to the second half?). You also might not expect a WWII novel to have as much humor as CNV did (mostly because of the awesomeness that is the Maddie/Verity friendship). This is going down as one of my favorites of 2014, and I recommend all y'all try it, especially if, like me, you downloaded the audiobook via audiobooksync.
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson; read by Mandy Siegfried | Goodreads
From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, a major infraction in high-school society, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either; there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won't go away, until there is a painful confrontation. Once that happens, she can't be silent, she must speak the truth.
In this powerful audiobook, an utterly believable, bitterly ironic heroine speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while learning that, although it's hard to speak up for yourself, keeping your mouth shut is worse.
What I liked the most about this audiobook is that the narrator never lets you forget how old Melinda is. I don't know if the narrator was doing a special voice or not, but listening to this, I was always reminded of Melinda, the ninth grader, trying to let her growing tree breathe after a terrible event had destroyed her (and it). It was impossible not to feel her pain and wonder why no one saw it too. Her silence was impressive, her narrative funny and bittersweet. Her confrontation wasn't exactly what I expected, but when I imagined what it would be like -- halfway into the book, 3/4 of the way in, etc. -- I shivered and had to pause the narration. I got goosebumps when Siegfried voiced the actual confrontation. If you've ever wanted to read a Laurie Halse Anderson novel but haven't had the time, try listening to the audio of this. Also highly recommended. This is a beautiful work of art, both voiced and written, and I can't wait to try more of Anderson's work.
Every Day - David Levithan; read by Alex McKenna | Goodreads
In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.