It’s here! It’s here! My copy of Marissa Meyer’s Fairest arrived yesterday. I have not geeked out so much over the new release of a book since the 7th book of Harry Potter. I have discovered a new word for fans of The Lunar Chronicles. “Lunartics.”
I am resisting the urge to Google the internet buzz at this point because countless lunartics already gulped this book down and posted about it. I actually am still on Chapter 2, because I bought the audiobook version. I rarely buy audiobooks, because so much of my enjoyment then depends on the narrator. The wrong narrator can kill a great book. I check audiobooks out from the library, though. If after the first chapter I hate the performance, no money lost.
In the case of Fairest, it was a known quantity. Rebecca Soler narrated the first 3 books of the series: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and returned for this new one. So far in the series, her timing is spot-on. In a story peopled with colorful characters from the world-over (and the Moon-over), she gives each a distinct inflection. Several times she has to attack accents. Her Cress, Iko, and Captain Thorne are especially vivid and funny.
The real test for me comes when the reader performs the opposite gender. Science would be able to tell you what sine waves or whatever make the male and female voice about more than simple pitch. There is nothing more distracting for me then when our butch hero sounds like a little boy, or our sassy-sweet heroine sounds like the Wolf disguised poorly as Grandma.
I listen to audiobooks while doing chores around the house. Indeed, my laundry would live in the dryer if I had to fold it without a story or Moody Radio on in the background. This week, my socks may thank Rebecca Soler for facilitating their matchmaking endeavors.
Rebecca Soler is a fantastic performer, but my favorite fiction narrator may be Brendan Fraser. I know, right? I thought he could only do buff, slightly goofy heroes. But that’s because of my limited exposure to his movie roles. Take away the visual element, and the man can become anybody. And he does wonderful things with a verb. For example, if a cat squeezes between the slats of a fence, Fraser will drag out the word “squeeze” as “SQeeeeeeZE.” It’s hard to spell this effect, but you can hear the cat sucking in a breath and threading itself through the narrow hole.
I highly recommend Fraser’s performance of Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell. On the movie screen, he’s the dad (Mo). In the audio book, he’s EVERYBODY, and so well.
I listen for slightly different qualities in non-fiction books, which tend to be more prose-oriented than dialogue-heavy. For history or biographies, I’m listening for a blend of wry practicality and the weight of destiny. I want to feel like I am simultaneously hanging out casually with great figures of history, sharing a sandwich, and hovering overhead, looking at them climb their inevitable path to greatness or tragedy.
David McCullough (who often narrates his own biographies) and Edward Hermann (who played the grandfather on Gilmore Girls) are two of my favorites in non-fiction. I have never listened to any audiobooks by Morgan Freeman, but I’ve heard his documentary voiceovers, and would be a fan of any audiobook he recorded. I’d listen to that man read a phonebook.
Do you listen to audiobooks? What do you listen for in a performance?
So it may be taking me longer to get through Fairest, but I don’t mind dragging out the pleasure. I can savor each word, like dark chocolate.
And get the laundry done.