Monday, May 28, 2012

I Get Judge-y About Audiobooks, Junior

Okay, you've all devoured my thoughts about the Narration By Author or Authors category in the upcoming Audies Awards, but never fear! My Armchair Audies work continues. I also listened to all of the books in the Teens category, and what a strong category is was. Check out the nominees:

To Category List

PICK-UP GAME: A Full Day of Full CourtMarc Aronson, Charles R. Smith Jr.
Read by Dion Graham Bernstine, Quincy Tyler
(Brilliance Audio/ Candlewick)
Read the review 

CHIMEFranny Billingsley
Read by Susan Duerden
(Listening Library)
Read the review 

OKAY FOR NOWGary D. Schmidt
Read by Lincoln Hoppe
(Listening Library)
Read the review 

THE WAKE OF THE LORELEI LEE: Being an Account of the Adventures of Jacky Faber, on Her Way to Botany BayL.A. Meyer
Read by Katherine Kellgren
(Listen & Live Audio)
Read the review 

Read by Libba Bray
(Scholastic Audiobooks)
Read the review 

I already talked in more detail about Libba Bray, L.A. Meyer, Gary D. Schmidt, and Franny Billingsley, so let me start with the stories edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith, Jr. Pick-Up Game is a tightly constructed series of interwoven stories by different writers, linked by poems and photos of the basketball court, and it has a kaleidoscopic joy and tension holding it together. The narration by Dion Graham Bernstine and Quincy Tyler is rhythmic, at times melodic, and the production sound effects work seamlessly with the narration and the text to bring the day of street ball to vivid life. This is one of those cases when having the book would be great, because the photos and layout tell the story, too. But if opting between the two versions (paper and audio), I'd still go with audio because the voices are so rich.

In general, this category is incredibly strong. I have been listening to more and more teen/YA audio in recent years - in part because it's great for listening while at work (except for when it compels me to tears, as so often happens. I'm a crier.) But I also think that more and more great YA audiobooks are being produced. There is a serious wealth of titles out there, so it makes sense that five such strong contenders are on the table now.

So I'm ranking Pick-Up Game, Chime, and Okay for Now in a tie for 3rd place. I think Pick-Up Game had the most effective production values, Chime had the most compelling voice, and Okay for Now had the strongest ability to transport me into the story and not let me go until 'The End.'

In 2nd place, Beauty Queens, which as I explained for the Narration by Author or Authors category (in which I pick this title to win), is an entirely captivating and delightful story, told with charming skill. Mad props to Bray, of course, for such a strong showing when up against narrators who really excel at interpreting books for a living. Sometimes when I'm writing I read parts of the novel to myself, and sure, I'm untrained and Bray isn't, but let's just say that when I publish my book, I'm not going to be the one narrating the audio version. (You can picture me knocking on wood here, fyi.)

And the top prize in my opinion goes to The Wake of the Lorelei Lee. I'm a fan of Meyer's series, and an even bigger fan of Kellgren's narrations of them. This title, with the myriad voices and accents, the constant singing and fighting and longing and loving, was a true wonder to listen to. It was one of my favorite audiobook listening experiences ever, and I hope this duo continue to work together for another dozen Jacky Faber adventures.

Good luck to all the nominees. It's, as I said, a great slate of titles, and it was a joy to listen to them for this project.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I love Katherine Kellgren! But I also loved Okay For Now on audio. See that would have been my tough decision, but I never listened to Beauty Queens, reading it physically instead.

    Good call with Kellgrean though.