Day Two of Audiobook Week at Devourer of Books! Today, Jen asks us about the sound of audio books...single narrator vs. multiple narrator, sound effects, etc.
The reader of an audiobook makes or breaks the story. In three years of listening to books, I've realized that even more than author, plot, character, etc., the narrator is the most important factor. I've had great narrators turn a so-so book into a perfectly wonderful story, and alternately, bad narrators just kill a great book. I've come to rely on a few narrators who consistently do a good job voicing books, and I'll listen to almost anything they read:
- Scott Brick (favorite work: The Lion's Game)
- Kate Reading (favorite work: Jackdaws)
- Susan Ericksen (favorite work: Anyone But You)
- Simon Vance (favorite work: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
- George Guidall (favorite work: The Kill Artist)
- David Sedaris (favorite work: When You are Engulfed in Flames)
I always preferred single narrators, until I listened to The Help, which was without a doubt the single best audiobook I've ever listened to. It's read by four women - one of whom will be playing one of the largest roles in the movie this summer - and they do a phenomenal job with this book. If you don't think you like audiobooks, just give this one a shot.
I'm ambivalent about sound effects in audiobooks. If the studio and narrator can make it work without seeming overly dramatic or cheesy, then I'm ok with it. When used sparingly and appropriately, music can greatly enhance the story. Case in point: The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman. Throughout the audio, Gaiman and the producers used music very well and this added to the creep factor. As I said, though, I think the narrator is the most important factor, and with a great narrator sound effects can be unnecessarily distracting.
How about you? What are your thoughts on the production values of audiobooks? Any major pluses or minuses?
If you're interested in participating in Jen's Audiobook Week, or want to read some of the other postings, check them out here.