An audiobook narrator can make or break a book for a reader. I like to break my narrators into three categories: 1)the professional audiobook narrator, often an stage or voice actor 2) the author as narrator, these can be shaky but in the case of Neal Gaiman and Sherman Alexie, no one could do it better and 3) the celebrity narrator, often a famous TV or film actor. Audiobooks have been narrated by the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Sissy Spacek, and Steve Buscemi (who won an Odyssey honor for his narration of I’m Dirty). This third type of narrator is what I would like to discuss today.
My introduction to celebrity audiobook narrators got off to a rocky start with Milo Ventimiglia narrating The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson. Part of this disappointment may have been my high expectations, having many of my teens talk about how they enjoyed the book, and my own love of Ventimiglia on the currently running TV show Heroes, where he also played a young adult discovering the range of his supernatural powers as he tried to stop the end of the world. Unfortunately, Ventimiglia’s performance fell short…very short. I hardly made it through the second disc before his flat characters and slowly paced narration forced me to pull over to the side of the highway to eject the disc and find something new to listen to.
My second foray (a very timid one) into celebrity audiobook narrators was The Abhorsen Trillogy by Garth Nix, narrated by Tim Curry. Being a fan of the Muppet generation, Tim Curry will always have special place in my heart as Long John Silver. I checked out the audiobooks, cautiously excited. With all the flourish and drama I associate with Curry, he brought all of the characters to life (I especially loved the sarcastic Mogget) and intimidatingly long books flew by as Curry described the adventures of Sabriel, Lirael and the Disreputable Dog. My only issue with the narration was that these books are filled with female characters, which sounded remarkably alike in Curry’s voice. However, he fully made up for it with the spine chilling voices of Kerigor, the Destroyer and all manner of things come back from the dead.
My third and final celebrity audiobook was Anne Hathaway and the the Princess Diaries books by Meg Cabot. Perhaps it was that I had grown comfortable with Anne Hathaway filling the shoes of the awkward Mia Thermopolis. Her voice is the perfect mix of angsty, confused teen combined with a hidden poise and elegance which I have come to attribute to Anne Hathaway. These books were probably my favorite example of a celebrity narrator, brava Anne.
Although my introduction to celebrity audiobook narrators was disappointing, all in all, they probably aren’t any better or worse than the rest. Most are pretty good, some are great, and every so often you find a dud. What celebrity audiobook narrators have impressed/disappointed you?
-Kate Pickett is currently looking forward to listening to White Cat by Holly Black and read by Jesse Eisenberg on her upcoming vacation!