Who are your favorite narrators and why? What do you look for in a narrator? Have a preference between male or female narrators?
Alternate suggestion: Narration preferences – single narrator, multiple narrators, full cast, etc.
My audiobook reviews are mainly about the book itself, but all too often, a narrator can make or break a book. On average, I listen to about 12-15 audiobooks each year. I have not yet found a favorite narrator, and I do not have a preference between male and female (as long as it fits the book!) but I have a few things I look for.
Multiple Narrators work, as long as it's necessary to the story and the voices don't sound too much alike. As much as I enjoyed Elin Hildenbrand's SILVER GIRL, the two female narrators sounded slightly too much alike. On the one hand, it didn't make the transition from one point of view to the other jarring; on the other, I didn't see the need for it. The entire book could have been read by one actor and it would have been fine. A book like THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, on the other hand...oh my goodness, Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone were the perfect Hanna and Clay. This dual narration WORKED.
A narrator can make or break a book for me. A good narrator helps me lose myself in the story, has a strong ability to switch up accents, and doesn't sound like they're reading. Yes, I can listen to Rob Lowe all - day - long. His STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS was swoon-worthy and I could listen to it again, just to hear his voice. With the young adult book, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, I started the series by listening to the audio. When I received an advanced readers' copy of BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, I read the text, but could still hear the narrator, Kevin T. Collins' voice in my head. Loved it!
A narrator can make an intimidating book less so. The mere weight of George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones books made me shy away from them. When I decided to listen to the audio of the first book - SONG OF ICE AND FIRE - (all 34 hours of it) I knew I made the right decision. The utterly brilliant narrator, Roy Dotrice, allowed me to keep track of all the characters and story lines by his tremendous talent at voices.
They don't have to be professional actors! Jenny Lawson's LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED is the perfect example. She is The Bloggess. She wrote her memoir and recorded her own audio. Her voice is not one of a professional voice actor, but her authenticity and her familiarity came through loud and clear. I felt like she and I were sitting next to each other on a plane and she was telling me her unbelievable life story, with all the wit and hilarious zest she is known for.
I could do it better! No, not better than Roy Dotrice or Jim Dale (Harry Potter and The Night Circus audios). I'm not delusional! Unfortunately, there are some wonderful books, sadly to say, that are ruined by the narrator: The Young Adult book that is read by someone who believes all 15 year old girls have squealy voices and all teenage boys sound like Keanu Reeves; The non-fiction narrator that puts us to sleep instead of engages us with the interesting knowledge that brought us to the book in the first place - these audiobooks make me want to jump into a sound booth and record my own demo! (Still not out of the realm of possibilities, my reading friends! I have chops.)
Taste it first. The best way to figure out if you connect to a narrator's voice is to listen to the sound clip available. Whether you download from Audible, iTunes, or order a CD from Amazon, there is almost always a sample audio. Listen to it! If the voice appeals to you, go for it. If it makes you feel like someone scratched their fork along their plate, skip it.