The Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association sponsors the Amazing Audiobooks list of suggested listening for those ages 12-18, drawn from the previous two years of spoken-word releases. Essential purchases for YA collections, plus great cross-over listening for adults, too. Thanks to the committee and chair Lee Catalano for finding the very best in teen audiobooks!
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, read by the author. Recorded Books, 2008, 5 hours, 5 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4281-8297-4, $46.75; 5 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4281-8292-9, $33.75.
A fledgling cartoonist, Arnold Spirit Jr., or Junior as he’s known on the rez, leaves his Spokane Indian Reservation high school after throwing his 30-year-old geometry textbook at his teacher. Reading his own work with appropriate pacing and true emotion, Alexie explores major issues of belonging and leaving your community, life and death, and the value of friendship.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, read by Jenna Lamia. Macmillan Audio, 2008, 7 hours, 30 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4272-0443-1, $29.95.
Her parents tell her that she has just awoken from a coma after a terrible accident, but Jenna Fox doesn’t remember anything about her life. Narrator Jenna Lamia brilliantly brings to life one of the most empty — literally — young women in fiction.
A Bloody Jack Adventure, Book 2: Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren. Listen & Live Audio, 2008, 14 hours, 11 discs, ISBN: 978-1-5931-6134-7, $29.95.
Mary “Jacky” Faber spent a year at sea facing life-and-death situations, but becoming a “Fine Lady” at the Lawson Peabody School for Girls will be her toughest challenge yet! This rousing historical tale is brought to vivid life through Katherine Kellgren’s expert narration.
A Bloody Jack Adventure, Book 3: Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren. Listen and Live Audio, 2008, 15 hours, 12 discs, ISBN: 978-1-59316-141-5, $29.95.
When her reunion with Jaimy goes awry due to a misunderstanding, Jacky is pressed into service on the Wolverine. Katherine Kellgren captures the wonder of the “Cheapside orphan” who has journeyed to America and back, and undertakes new feats with daring, recklessness and courage.
The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon, read by Christopher Evan Welch. Recorded Books, 2008, 8 hours, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4361-3876-5, $77.75; 7 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4361-3871-0, $56.75.At 14, Brent Runyon set himself on fire; this is the true story of his emotional and physical recovery from that darkness. The pain, joy and fear of Brent’s ordeal are flawless in Christopher Evan Welch’s narration.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, read by Tom Hollander. HarperAudio/Caedmon, 2007, 8 hours, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-0-06-117062-1, $34.95.
High on milk-plus and teen hormones, Alex happily leads his mates on a rampage of ultra-violence. Arrested and imprisoned, he agrees to be “cured;” the cost is his free will. Tom Hollander breathes life into Alex and his world with this amazing performance, helping listeners easily acquire the “nadsat” language.
The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, read by Christopher Lane. Brilliance Audio, 2008, 6 hours, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4233-6558-7, $74.25; 5 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4233-6556-3, $69.25.
Eli’s billionaire father built the Compound to protect his family from nuclear devastation. Now, six years have passed and Eli finally begins to question his reality. Christopher Lane’s intense, well-paced narration adds to the pulse-pounding intensity of this non-stop thrill ride.
The Declaration by Gemma Malley, read by Charlotte Parry. Recorded Books, 2007, 7 hours, 45 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4281-7281-4, $97.75; 7 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4281-7276-0, $67.75.
It’s 2140 and Anna is a Surplus, an unwanted child forced into slavery. With Peter’s arrival, she learns that everything she knows is wrong, and her journey back home begins. Parry’s unique and genuine accents make the characters shine in this thrilling story.
Elijah of Buxton, written by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by Mirron Willis. Listening Library, 2008. 7 discs, 8 hours, 30 minutes, ISBN: 978-0-7393-6719-3 $50.00
Mirron Willis’ enthralling, richly authentic narration of Christopher Paul Curtis’ award-winning novel, transports listeners to a historic Canadian settlement of former slaves as 11-year-old Elijah Freeman confronts the realities of slavery.
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, read by Sarah Naughton and the Full Cast Family. Full Cast Audio, 2007, 8 hours, 15 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN (library edition): 978-1-934180-13-6, $55; ISBN (retail edition): 978-1-934180-08-2, $39.95.
Aza does not look like her fellow Ayorthans, but she can sing like them. Feeling huge and ugly, she somehow becomes the favorite of the new queen, sharing a secret that could bring down a kingdom and destroy Aza’s happiness. The Full Cast Family expertly reads and sings the story of Aza and Ayortha — a country where beautiful composing and singing are prized above everything.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by the author. Recorded Books, 2008, 7 hours, 45 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4361-5884-8, $77.75; 7 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4361-5879-4, $56.75.
Pursued by a knife-wielding killer, young orphan Bod Owens is taken in by the spirits of a graveyard. Wanting to learn about life beyond the cemetery gates, Bod must face the dangers that await him. Listeners cannot help but be captivated by Bod’s tale through the voice of master storyteller Gaiman, who evokes the horror, humor, and heartbreak of an unusual boy raised by ghosts.
How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt, read by Caitlin Greer. Listening Library, 2008, 5 hours, 24 minutes, 5 discs, ISBN: 978-0-7393-6412-3, $45.
Harper’s home and family are falling apart. To escape her father and stepsister, she joins a volunteer program to build a house for Teddy’s family, who lost their home in a tornado. Caitlin Greer gives voice to Harper who, as she helps one family build their house, starts to put her own life back together.
The Last Apprentice, Book 3: Night of the Soul Stealer, by Joseph Delaney, read by Christopher Evan Welch. Recorded Books, 2007, 7 hours, 30 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4281-7251-7, $51.75; 6 cassettes, ISBN: 978-1-4281-7246-3, $41.75.
In the third adventure as apprentice to the Spook, young Tom Ward travels with him to Angelzarke for a long cold winter. When the Spook falls ill, Tom faces terrors on his own as he defends the County against the dark. Narrator Welch creates a properly spooky and suspenseful atmosphere seen through the eyes of the naïve Tom.
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, read by Rebecca Soler. Penguin Audio, 2008, 11 hours, 10 discs, ISBN: 978-0-14-314305-5, $39.95.
Just shy of her 18th birthday, Ruby is forced to move in with her older sister Cora — who abandoned Ruby to their alcoholic mother ten years earlier. In creating the character of Ruby, Rebecca Soler perfectly embodies a young adult woman — alternatively confident and scared, sarcastic and tentatively affectionate.
Nation by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs. Harper Children’s Audio/HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, 8 CDs, 9 hours 30 minutes, ISBN:9780061658211 $29.95.
Narrator Stephen Briggs’ crisp, precise British narration artfully enhances Terry Pratchett’s “a survival story focusing on 13-year-old Mau and British teen Daphne, the sole survivors of a tsunami.
Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney, read by Maxwell Caulfield. Listening Library, 2008, 8 hours, 25 minutes, ISBN: 978-0-7393-6318-8, $37.
On the eve of her 17th birthday, Princess Kerin is rescued from certain death by Sebastian, Cornelius, and Max the Buffalope. Chock full of action, humor, friendship and loyalty, this adventure is epic storytelling at its best with Maxwell Caulfield in charge of the narration.
Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, read by David Kelly and the Full Cast Family. Full Cast Audio, 2008, 11 hours, 30 minutes, 10 discs, ISBN: 978-1-934180-33-4, $44.95.
Matt Cruse soars to new heights of adventure in pursuit of the Hyperion, a ghost ship carrying untold treasure at 20,000 feet. David Kelly and the Full Cast Family masterfully create engaging and unique characters that pull the listener into Matt’s high-flying world of excitement, adventure and danger.
Slam by Nick Hornby, read by Nicholas Hoult. Penguin Audio, 2007, 7 hours, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-0-14-314283-6, $29.95.
Sam is a sixteen-year-old who likes to skate, does well in art classes, looks up to Tony Hawk, and … gets his girlfriend pregnant. Nicholas Hoult nails the voice of Sam — immature, poignant, and funny — maturing through the book as we live Sam’s life, and fatherhood, with him.
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, read by the author. Listening Library, 2008, 4 hours, 48 minutes, 4 discs, ISBN: 978-0-7393-7133-6, $38.
Branded the “school skank” at age thirteen, Deanna feels isolated and puts on a tough exterior. The author’s narration unveils the spare, powerful, and honest portrayal of the girl with the reputation.
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, read by Lorelei King. Macmillan Audio, 2007, 8 eights, 30 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4272-0045-7, $29.95.
Rennie’s life is changed forever at age thirteen; her brother is fighting in World War II and a Japanese internment camp opens near her small town. When a young girl is murdered, most of the townspeople believe it was someone from the camp. King’s multidimensional voice brings the characters to life.
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, read by Kenya Brome. Listening Library, 2008, 8 hours, 8 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-0-7393-6742-1, $50.
It’s the summer of 1963, and 12-year-old Addie Ann Pickett lives on the black side of town in Kuckachoo, Mississippi. Kenya Brome has the perfect voice for Addie, her family, and the people of Kuckachoo, as she narrates alternately lighthearted optimism, tearful emotion, and an arrogant assumption of white superiority.