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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2020) Nominees Round Up, November 6 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi; Narrated by Christopher Myers
Listening Library / Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
ISBN: 978-0593153994 

The residents of Lucille claim they’ve eradicated the monsters.  Angels of a generation past ensured the safety of all, Jam was taught that in school.  Statues honor the children whose names had been hashtagged battle cries, those who had died at the hands of the everyday monsters in a time of great violence and cruelty, back before the revolution.  But then Pet appears, clawing forth from Jam’s mother’s painting, a hulking and feathered creature born of Jam’s blood, a hunter in search of a monster in Jam’s plain sight.  Can Jam protect her best friend when joining Pet’s hunt means confronting a truth that others would rather stay buried?

Christopher Myers eases the listener into the speculative world of Lucille with his even tone and gentle narration, the clipped cadence of his voice a gripping presence as the unnerving plot unfolds over a series of short days.  Myers’s narration is especially impressive given the nuanced and critical role that language plays in the story.  Jam, who is selectively mute, alternately signs, speaks, and communicates telepathically with Pet, while the dialects of several adults, including Jam’s parents, lend a fuller picture of the diverse community.  Myers strikes a careful balance of intensity and a chilling calm with sufficiently distinctive characterization to shift among the various players without breaking the listener’s immersion in this brief and compelling work.

Fans of N.K. Jemisin will appreciate the sci-fi parallels to her work — not to mention her name check in Pet — and Emezi’s world-building brings to mind Neil Gaiman’s darker efforts.  Listeners looking for similar themes on the small screen might enjoy old Buffy or Angel episodes, for their vigilantism and efforts to eradicate darkness, Sweet/Vicious for its empowering attack on rape culture, or Sense8, with its telepathically connected and LGBT+ inclusive cast.

–Kit Ballenger

 

Eve of Man  by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher; Narrated by Charlotte Ritchie and Josh Dylan
Penguin Random House / Listening Library
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
ISBN: 978-1984884589 

In a future world where no other girls have been born in half a century, sixteen-year-old Eve is locked away in a high tech tower to one day save humanity. Bram, a “pilot” for the Extinction Prevention Organization, has been trained his whole life to prepare Eve for her duties. But the more they get to know each other, the more they start to question both the future and the powers that be.

Giovanna and Tom Fletcher have done some substantial world-building and character development, which eventually leads to a worthy and action-packed story of resistance. Both Eve and Bram’s stories are presented with a balance of gravitas and humor, thanks to dual narrators, Charlotte Ritchie and Josh Dylan. Teens will appreciate the thought-provoking plot especially when it relates to societal expectations. Both the authors and the narrators have created an imaginative first book in a series that will have listeners excited for more, after reaching the cliffhanger ending.

While the easiest comparison will be Margaret Atwood’s, A Handmaid’s Tale, fans of dystopian fiction like Matched by Allie Condie and The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee will also enjoy this one. Other titles to recommend based on their focus on gender roles and reproductive rights would be Wither by Lauren DeSefano, Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Bumped by Megan McCafferty and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien. Those looking for a watch-a-like will see connections to the film Children of Men, and shows like The 100, Netflix’s The Society, and Black Mirror.

–Brittany Garcia & Christie Kimsey

 

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor; Narrated by Yetide Badaki
Viking Books for Young Readers / Tantor Audio
Publication Date: January 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1977352439 

Sunny Nwazue may be a bit older and know a little bit more than when she found out she was part of the Leopard Society, but she still has a lot to learn. In this next adventure, she and her friends must save both the visible and invisible worlds. They travel to the mysterious town of Osisi where they must battle to save humanity.

Akata Warrior is a wonderful tale that combines mythology, magic, and history all into one fascinating adventure. Yetide Badaki gives each character their own voice, maintains the perfect pace, and pronounces everything beautifully. Sunny’s world truly comes alive with Badaki’s narration.

The simplest way to describe Akata Warrior would be Harry Potter in Africa, but it is so much more than that. A similar read would be Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, since they are both about magic and take place in Africa. Both books are also an #OwnVoices story,  An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse are also Own Voices tales with strong female leads. Just remember to have a lot of patience though because there is quite a time gap in between each book, but it’s okay, they are worth the wait.

–Samantha Jackson