A Roundup of Our Recent Listens
By Emily De Vogele, Cameron Phillips and Paige Anderson
The last few weeks have been busy for me, so I haven’t had the chance to read as much as I’d like. However, that’s where my love for audiobooks comes in. Commuting to and from university I find myself gravitating towards stories and, most recently, it’s been The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland and Dion Graham). Towles, perhaps best known for his bestseller A Gentleman in Moscow, has done it again with another richly layered novel full of character, excitement and plot twists.
While I have yet to finish this audiobook, I already know it’s going to be a top read this year. From the get-go, we’re thrown headfirst into the story by following Emmett Watson on his drive home from the juvenile work farm he has just been released from. Despite only spanning ten days, Towles takes his time with each interaction. There’s no denying the poetic beauty of his writing, but hearing it narrated and spoken to you makes it that much more enchanting.
The trio of narrators brings life to these characters, expressing their thoughts and inner monologues with such emotion and determination. The soft-spoken manner of Emmett compared to the erratic nature of Duchess is a prime example of why narration matters. There’s a clear distinction between these two who are arguably the most vital characters in the novel. If I close my eyes and press play, I’m instantly transported to 1950s America, with its rural settings and strong-willed individuals that have become familiar friends to me throughout this audiobook. I can’t wait to listen to more of this novel.
I am a latecomer to Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, which is bizarre given my love of the fantasy genre. When I was young, I was aware of the significance of the novels but always kept my distance from them due to Pratchett’s surreal approach to his writing, world-building and characters. I’m not going to criticise myself or any young person for that but now that I’m older they have become more accessible. If it helps, the musical equivalent would be listening to a Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea set in Middle-Earth. However, now I have become engrossed in the utterly unique realm of Discworld.
Thus, I recently finished listening to Mort, the first in the Death subseries. Pratchett's nuance is once more on show here, with his story following Mort, the apprentice of Death, whose role in the books is often used to explore existential themes and the problems of human existence. The personification of Death is fantastic, as he grapples with the question of whether he would be suited to being anything other than the grim reaper.
Like most of his work, Pratchett's writing is hilarious and made even funnier through the narration. Pratchett’s humour is unique in this sense, as hearing the words being read aloud makes them twice as good and humorous. Nigel Planner, in the majority, does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life, with Mort and Death being particularly good. He does struggle with female voices, but overall, he does a great job matching the tone of Pratchett's writing, with the whimsical and magical humour carried through Pratchett’s words being matched by Planner.
As someone who loves the fantasy genre and enjoyed Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I recently decided to delve into Throne of Glass. Although I’m yet to finish listening to the audiobook, I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favourites. Not only is the plot extremely intriguing, but the writing style and narrator make it a wonderful listen.
The story follows Celaena Sardothian, an imprisoned assassin, and her fight for freedom. Competing in a royal competition to spend a year serving the king, Calaena quickly discovers things about the castle, herself and the prince that makes for an eventful listen. One of the main things that I am enjoying about this audiobook is the narration, which seems to be somewhat of a controversial opinion. One reader stated that: “if I truly can’t get past the narrator, then I don’t listen to the book.”
In my opinion, Elizabeth Evans' voice compliments Caelena’s character perfectly, and she does a brilliant job at bringing the book to life. Evans can differentiate between characters, whether it is a deeper tone for Prince Dorian, or a smooth, almost calculating, tone for Celaena. I have loved Maas’s previous work, and I am very excited to continue listening to Evans’ narration of her Throne of Glass series.