Have I mentioned how much I enjoy YA audiobooks? (That's a rhetorical question. Of course I have.) That's why the Teen category for the Audies is generally full of delights for me. This year was no exception.
The nominees are:
As an Armchair Audies Judge (and total expert, in my own mind) I listened to all of these, and what a pleasure it was. Of course, even without the Audies, I'd have listened to 3 of these - I'm always, always going to listen to Katherine Kellgren's narration of LA Meyers, and given how intensely I loved hearing Code Name Verity, I had no doubts that I'd want to listen to Elizabeth Wein's next in the series, even with different voice talent. And as for Rainbow Rowell's books, well. I've been knows to read first, then listen, and to listen first, then read, but always to devour them in all formats.
So, not surprisingly, given my pre-ordained love of the other authors, the two new-to-me authors had my less-favorite audios in this year's slate. Noah Galvan's reading of Matthew Quick's novel embraces the quirkiness of some of the characters and is sensitive and affecting. W Morgan Sheppard's reading of Tom McNeal's novel showed me his facility with languages and accents and emotional temperature changes. Both were so good in many ways, but they didn't cross the line into exemplary.
Also very very good was Sasha Pick's reading of Elizabeth Wein's novel, fully capturing Rose's bravado and fear and heart, as well as the fragile emotions of her fellow concentration camp internees.
But, come on, it's Katherine Kellgren not only reading LA Meyer, but narrating Jacky's adventures in Spain, with gypsies, with painters, with soldiers. Accents and singing and bull-riding and letters from Jaimy and, honestly, with half a syllable from Kellgren I could tell you whether it's Higgins or Jacky or Goya speaking, which is a remarkable feat - after ten books I feel I know the recurring characters very well, and part of that is due to her portrayal of them.
So that's phenomenal, and y'all should listen to the whole series.
But first, listen to Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra's reading of Rainbow Rowell's novel, because your heart needs it. Your mind needs it. Your sense of nostalgia, and however much of you is a music lover, and a comics nerd, and a kid who once rode the bus; all of those parts of you need it. Lowman in particular basically mind-melded with the text, making Eleanor's portions of the novel intense and painful and beautiful and real. Malhotra is quite the idealized Park voice - so sweet and always with a smile somewhere, even when he is aching. The whole thing is magic, as is the novel, and my world, knowing this book and this audiobook are around. (I rave. So what? It's my blog and I can rave if I want to.)
So the Audie goes to Eleanor & Park. So should you.