YA Book Reviews by Amy
Most Entertaining Audiobooks Part I
I am someone who enjoys having a physical book in my hands to read and it is still my favorite form to read. In the past, I have rarely dipped my toes into eBooks or audiobooks until a couple of years ago; I realized that I spent a lot of time doing various activities (driving, working out, cleaning) which I was doing it in silence when I could have been easily listening to books. Previously, I had listened to audiobooks occasionally when it was for class or trying to keep up with my vicious reading schedule, but recently I have been enjoying downloading audiobooks from our library’s Overdrive. It has been super convenient and only takes a couple of minutes to have it instantly on my reading device.
Each one of these titles enhanced my experience by listening to the title. All of the readers (voice actors) had the perfect voice to either convey all the different emotions, had the right soothing voice, or sounded like they were actually the characters.
Listed below are my personal favorites, although I have a few more to introduce to you soon! I want to explain not only why the book is fantastic because of the compelling plots, conflicted characters, and wonderful writing, but also to give these titles a chance for you to listen to through audiobook if you got the chance.
Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Follow the tragic beginnings and curious life of Nobody Owens, a boy with no name and a graveyard as his home. After the terrifying murder of his family when he was just a baby, Nobody’s life was spared when he unknowingly escaped the wrath of The Man Called Jack by toddling down to the seemingly empty graveyard. Protected by the ghosts that live there, Nobody is saved and must live with them to remain safe. As Nobody grows up and learns about the world around him, he also has grand adventures that a normal human boy would never have.
This book had me completely entranced from the very first page. Not only does the book begin with very dark- thrilling action and creepy imagery, but it works so well with Neil Gaiman’s voice and tone. Gaiman reading his own novel is completely fitting and was the highlight of the book. I also enjoyed the added music before each chapter that also created eeriness to these shadowy vignettes of Nobody’s life.
For Every One by Jason Reynolds
Part inspirational poem and part autobiographical, For Every One is about overcoming life’s obstacles and living out your dream– what ever that dream may be.
The poem that Jason Reynolds wrote is empowering and makes one connect to the concepts, the themes, and the emotions behind his words. While I have read the physical book, listening to Reynolds read this poem is very powerful. This is definitely for those who feel lost in life and need some uplifting thoughts. After listening to Reynold’s fantastic voice, I felt reenergized and reinvigorated.
Available on Overdrive
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Aza is trying to get through everyday without having a breakdown, but the problem is her mind continues to spiral into invasive-compulsive- anxiety ridden thoughts that stop her from enjoying even the small things. She meets Davis, a wealthy boy, whose father has gone missing and there is a huge reward for any information about his whereabouts. Aza goes on a quest to find any evidence about the missing billionaire, but also begins a friendship with Davis.
This audiobook places you in the mind of someone who is dealing with anxiety and mental health. This novel portrays those spiraling thoughts almost too well; I was completely on edge the entire time being placed into the mind of Aza. This is definitely not for those that want a relaxing read, but it is eye opening for those that don’t deal with these issues and representative of those who do. While this book is not perfect, I found the audiobook to be completely immersive.
Available on Overdrive
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Two stories that are divided by time but are connected when Rowan, in current day Tulsa, finds a skeleton on her family’s property. A century earlier in 1921 Tulsa, William witnesses the violence against minorities while in a town that is segregated by Jim Crow. His own prejudices are confronted when he is directly involved in the death of a stranger. Guilt and questioning plagues William when he meets siblings James and Ruby and he realizes that he must do right by anyone no matter the color of their skin. Whose body was found? And what were the circumstances in which the death occurred? The night Tulsa burns holds the answers.
This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard! There are added sound effects and music at times, but by far I enjoyed both voice actors: Pyeng Threadgill and Luke Slattery. They sounded exactly like what I would imagine them to sound like. This is a fantastic historical fiction, contemporary, with a mysterious twist.
Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Nannerl Mozart is a talented prodigy in her own right, but her younger brother, Wolfgang, will be the one who is remembered. After years of practicing and trying to make her father proud, Nannerl realizes that her dream of making a mark on the world is nearly impossible being a young lady in the 18th century. She has a close relationship with her brother since they not only share their love for composing music, in which Nannerl must do in private, but they also can escape into the fantasy Kingdom of Back. This twisted world of Back, there are dark motives and promises that must be kept.
A great mix of historical fiction, which Marie Lu clearly has done a lot of research about the Mozart family and the very real imagined world the Mozart siblings created, and fantasy. The audiobook kept the pacing perfectly and was well read by the narrator, Lauren Ezzo. She changed her voices for the different characters.
Available on Overdrive
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara expresses herself through her poetry that she writes in her journal. It is her religion when she begins to question her own. She writes about her life in Harlem, her righteous mother, the boy she is interested in, and so much more. Then she notices that her school has a spoken word club and she wants to begin participating in slam poetry.
Honestly Elizabeth Acevedo could read anything and it would be perfect. Reading her own words just adds to the intensity to Xiomara’s story. An audiobook that completely flies by because it is written in verse and it is only 3 hours and 30 minutes long. It is the perfect way to get into books told in verse for those who may not read them.
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
A contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Princess Jaya and her younger sister travel to an elite private boarding school in America to hide from a scandal. Jaya is convinced that Grey Emerson is the one that planted the paparazzi at the right place at the wrong time. Jaya thinks that making Grey fall in love and break his heart would be the best way to exact her revenge. Grey has grown up believing he is cursed; doomed to die when he turns eighteen. He does not know how to stop it especially when the ruby rose pendant that Jaya wears is losing its stones the closer to his birthday. Will Jaya actually fall in love with Grey? Is Grey really cursed?
This audiobook was a lot of fun! Told through both Jaya and Grey’s point of view, the story is paced perfectly. I did not want to stop listening to it and finished it within 24 hours.
Available on Overdrive
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Moss Jefferies has suffered from anxiety since the death of his father. His father’s death still impacts his community, but Moss wants to enjoy his sophomore year with his friends. With the sudden tightening of security in his school: constant locker checks, new metal detectors, and a scary resource officer; it is clear that the students no longer feel safe or wanted at their school. Change needs to happen, but will Moss step up to meet the opposition?
Mark Oshiro is my favorite author that also reads their own work. Oshiro has the perfect inflections, tone, and lovely voice. I have been a fan of Oshiro since they have read other books through their website. Oshiro’s emotion and expression shines through. This is a fantastic and intense read.