Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson; narrated by Alaska Jackson
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Liz Lighty can’t wait to go to college and get away from her small town, where she has never felt like she belongs. She has always felt judged by her white, wealthier peers, and she has spent most of high school trying to stay under the radar. When she has problems getting financial aid, Liz decides to run for prom queen because she knows the winner gets a scholarship. Her friends help her campaign, pushing her way out of her comfort zone, and things get even more difficult when she starts to fall for the new girl, Mack, who is also running for prom queen.
Alaska Jackson’s unhurried and sincere narration fits perfectly with Liz’s personality and often wry sense of humor. The character-driven plot features authentic, not perfect, friendships that many teens will relate to. Characters are diverse and relatable, especially to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
Fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and romantic comedies will love the romance and drama. Those who enjoy watching promposals will be satisfied with this prom-centered story. As a debut and an own voices novel, readers are going to want to start following Johnson on social media, where she is vocal about issues of race, sexuality, and her own book recommendations.
Forged in Fire and Stars by Andrea Robertson; narrated by Amy Shiels
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Part Norse-inspired fantasy and part knight’s quest, Forged in Fire and Stars is the first book in the Loresmith series by Andrea Robertson. We meet Ara, the secret daughter of the last Loresmith, a blacksmith with the ability to forge magical weapons for the monarchy of Saetlund. When her father is killed protecting the royal family before Ara is born, her grandmother raises her in a remote village and teaches her the ways of the Loresmith and blacksmith work. Teenaged Ara is kidnapped by the surviving members of the royal family: teenage twins who vow to win back Saetlund from the evil that is destroying the country and all but banished the gods. Soon Ara and the royals must work together to solve magical puzzles and quests in order to win the favor of the gods and assemble a band of knights to help fight for Saetlund.
Robertson’s writing is very lyrical and creates a lush fantasy world for readers to enjoy. Amy Shiels narration adds another beautiful layer to the story. Puzzles, mysteries and fantastic creatures keep the reader invested in what will happen to the band of travellers hoping to save the country. A recommended read for teens who love high fantasy or adventure. Readers who have enjoyed Tahir’s An Ember In the Ashes series, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton or Rosaria Munda’s Fireborne would gravitate towards this expertly done fantasy.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green; narrated by Kristen Sieh, Joe Hempel, Jesse Vilinsky, Nicole Lewis, Kevin R. Free, Hank Green, Robert Petkoff, Angelo Di Loreto, Oliver Wyman, Hillary Huber, P.J. Ochlan, and Gabra Zackman
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
This second book in The Carls duology continues the struggle of balancing real life with life online that April May started in the first. Andy has taken over the media in April’s absence. He finds a book that tells him the future, but he doesn’t know where it came from or how many of the books exist. Miranda joins a new technology experiment that takes her deeper into possible danger. Maya is determined to find out what exactly happened to April, and she spends a lot of time reviewing April’s old social media and following potential clues. All of the characters must consider their own feelings about fame, human relationships, and the future.
With a full cast narration, the story is immersive and plot-driven. Anyone who has found themselves spending hours online without really doing anything will be encouraged toward self-reflection. The audiobook contains an exclusive conversation with Hank Green and Cory Doctorow in which they discuss writing processes, online social spaces, media and advertising manipulation, and the importance of media literacy.
Fans of Green’s YouTube fame (Vlogbrothers, Crash Course) will enjoy reading his perspective of online life in fictional form. Readers who want more science fiction that hits close to home may also enjoy classics like 1984 or modern fast-paced sci-fi like Blake Crouch’s Recursion or Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.