This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list! After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best. If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here. It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.
We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.
2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten
- ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.
The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive. Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham: For those listeners who are looking for another title narrated by Fiona Hardingham that is packed with action and adventure and that has a strong female main character. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2012, 2012 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
- Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2013. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.
In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands. Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures. Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)
- Define Normal by Julie Anne Peters, read by Christine Lakin. Hachette, 2014. 5 hours, 30 minutes; digital download. 978-1-4789-8080-3.
After being assigned as a peer counselor to pierced, black lipstick-wearing Jasmine, the last thing Antonia expects is to find a friend. Lakin’s natural voicing and great pacing uplift this relevant and timeless novel.
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, read by Daniel Passer: Both audiobooks tell the story about families whose mothers are not fit to take care of their children, both Lakin and Passer narrate with realistic teen voices and also bring a timelessness to both productions. (2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach, read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2014. 5 hours, 49 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 978-1-4805-3324-0.
Gabe wages war when vending machine money promised to the marching band is diverted to the cheerleading squad. Funny, fast, and angst-filled narration by Podehl takes listeners on a wild ride as Gabe retells his story.
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl: Podehl shines at capturing the spirit of guys who are just trying to find themselves. Both Gabe and Carter are trying to survive high school, and Podehl deftly uses his instinctive comedic timing to convey the awkwardness and revelations as both guys come of age in their respective stories. (2010 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by a.s. king, read by Christine Lakin. Hachette Audio, 2014. 7 hours, 5 minutes; digital download. 978-1-4789-5774-4.
When Glory and her friend Ellie drink the remains of a desiccated bat, they find themselves able to see the future and the past, and Glory begins to reconsider her assumption that she’s destined to die young. Lakin’s nuanced narration explores Glory’s anger, grief, confusion, and hope.
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, read by Jessica Almasy: Glory and Loa, the main character in The Freak Observer, don’t know if they can trust their own minds. Lakin and Almasy draw listeners in with their exceptional range of emotions in these gut wrenching stories, as well as with their natural ability to portray someone whose mind is unravelling. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2013)
- Half Bad by Sally Green, read by Carl Prekopp. Recorded Books, 2014. 8 hours, 30 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-4906-1427-4.
Born an illegitimate son of a white witch mother and a black witch father, no one is sure which side Nathan will join, but both want him. Through Prekopp’s emotive performance, listeners are drawn into Nathan’s horrible torture and physical and emotional pain.
White Cat by Holly Black, read by Jesse Eisenberg: Half Bad and White Cat tell the tales of young men with supernatural abilities who are struggling with not only with choosing between allying with good or evil, but who are also trying to keep their “evil” tendencies in check. Prekopp delivers a tortured performance, and while Eisenberg is a bit more tame in comparison, both narrators deliver on the angst of the struggles of each character warring with good versus evil. (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, read by Julia Whelan. Brilliance Audio, 2014. 8 hours, 30 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 978-1-4805-6838-9.
While she grieves her sister’s death during her first year of high school, Laurel writes letters to famous dead people ranging from Kurt Cobain to Amelia Earhart. Whelan’s tender characterization of Laurel and her friends brings authenticity to this contemporary story of friendship, love, and loss.
Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going, read by Matthew Lillard: For listeners looking for another story of a teen turning to music to overcome debilitating depression. While Lillard brings a more humorous tone to his narration, both productions highlight the struggles of depression while also bringing hope through the characters’ journeys. (2004 Selection Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- Revolution by Deborah Wiles, read by Stacey Aswad and Francois Battiste with J.D. Jackson and Robin Miles. Listening Library, 2014. 12 hours, 10 minutes; 10 discs. 978-0-553-39526-6.
Twelve-year-old Sunny’s life changes forever when volunteers descend upon her Mississippi hometown in the summer of 1964, causing her to question her long-held beliefs and assumptions. A wide cast of narrators and accompanying effects create a powerful soundscape that will transport listeners to the Freedom Summer.
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, read by Lisa Renee Pitts: Both titles cover the struggle of African Americans fighting for equality in the late fifties and early sixties. Though Revolution employs a technique of using a soundscape of original songs, speeches, and other readings to convey the high emotions of this period, Pitts portrays Beals’ first hand account with a strong and stirring voice.
- Skink–No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen, read by Kirby Heyborne. Listening Library, 2014. 7 hours, 50 minutes; 7 discs. 978-0-8041-6690-4.
When his cousin Malley runs off with a stranger, Richard and Skink, a one-eyed, eccentric ex-governor, must journey into the backwoods of Florida to save her. Heyborne narrates this audiobook flawlessly, coupling a wide range of character voices with an appropriate amount of intensity and humor.
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman, read by Max Casella: While not completely similar stories, both Heyborne and Casella bring a tone of dark comedy to each production, which has a main character trying to protect his love interest from unusual threats. (2003 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)
- William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Collection by Ian Doescher, read by Danny Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, Jeff Gurner, January LaVoy, and Marc Thompson. Random House Audio, 2014. 10 hours, 30 minutes; 15 discs. 978-0-553-54640-8.
Join Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and more in this rich and unforgettable audio adventure, an adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy that is told entirely in Shakespearean verse. This full-cast production will surprise and delight listeners with authentic music and sound effects, as well as passion and pathos aplenty.
The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, read by Michael Page, Phil Gigante, Christopher Lane, Laural Merlington, and Angela Dawe: It’s definitely hard to find something that compares to Williams Shakespeare’s Star Wars Collection, but The Watch That Ends the Night is a great pick for listeners who are looking for another fantastic full cast production that also employs sound effects to uplift the story.
–Colleen Seisser, currently listening to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read by Allan Corduner