I’m a big fan of audiobooks. I’ve previously told the story of how I fell in love with them on this blog. I still read hard copy books, but I like the flexibility audiobooks allow me to do other things while “reading” and how the story really comes to life when narrated by a great voice actor. I have an Audible subscription and I listen to between 1 and 2 audiobooks a month, which may not sound like a lot, but when each one can last for between 8 and 30 hours (most being around the 10-18hr mark) it equates to a lot of time spent listening.
Amidst all of this listening, I find particular books stand out. These are ones where not only the story itself is brilliant, but where the performance of the voice artist (or artists) is so excellent and appropriate that it takes the book to new heights, and makes for an amazing listening experience.
So today I thought I would list my 5 favourite science fiction and fantasy audiobooks to date. If you are thinking of trying out an audiobook for the first time, or if you’re a fan looking for new listens, these are ones I highly recommend checking out:
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
Before I listened to this audiobook, I had no idea a voice artist could be so versatile and skilled with accents and voices. Michael Page voices a whole cast of characters, giving each one such an individual and perfectly suited voice that truly brings the world to life. The British accents suit the harsh, grubby fantasy world that is reminiscent of renaissance London or Venice. I truly feel if I’d read the hard copy of this, I would have missed out on a whole layer of fun, meaning and emotion brought to it by this voice actor.
2. Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Random House AudioBooks
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
The narrator Wil Wheaton brings such fun, enthusiasm and energy to this brilliant book that I feel I would have missed out on an extra layer of enjoyment had I read it instead of listened to it (though the book itself is, of course, fantastic). He gets the teenage gamer character of Wade just perfect, delivering his sardonic responses, funny quips, geeky gamer comments and fanboy enthusiasm in such a way that he really just becomes the character. He had me laughing or smiling many times, knew exactly when a dramatic pause was required, and had me on the edge of my seat during the suspenseful parts (which were many!). He even reads the monotonous I.O.I Sixer gamer numbers brilliantly, so I can’t help hearing his voice every time I think of “IOI-655321”.
3. The Scorpio Races
Narrated by two voice artists who bring to it the perfect tone and mood, this book was such a pleasure to listen to. The story is enthralling and beautifully written, and both narrators give brilliant performances that really help to enhance the enchanting, rugged, somewhat Celtic island setting, with its small community and complex characters. The understated but very sweet romance is also brought to life in this audiobook, and the voices suited the steely, strong characters.
4. The Martian
This is just a hands-down a great performance of a great book. The voice actor R C Bray gets the self-depreciating, funny, hard-working character of Mark Watney just right, delivering the amusing lines in the right way to make you laugh, and handling the more serious moments with equal skill. He even manages to read the scientific passages in a way that makes them interesting and almost comprehensible.
5. Throne of Glass
The popularity of the Throne of Glass series is in no small part due to its deadly, sardonic and compelling central character, Celaena Sardothien. In the audiobooks, the narrator Elizabeth Evans really gets this character spot-on, completing the picture perfectly and drawing you into the story. The sarcastic tone, the anger, the snide comments – they are all beautifully delivered, and yet the performance also has its soft side, when we see the more fragile inner thoughts, flaws and fears of this ruthless assassin.
Above are just my favourites from the ones I’ve managed to listen to so far, so if you’re after more audiobook recommendations, why not check out these sites:
- The Audies – Annual Awards for Best Titles in Audio Publishing
- Best Fantasy Books HQ – Best Fantasy Audiobooks of All Time
- Best Fantasy Books – Top 25 Best Fantasy Audiobooks
- Best Fantasy Audio – Best Fantasy Audiobooks Series
- YA Bibliophile – Audiobooks: Best. Things. Ever
- Book Chick City Audiobook Reviews
- Reddit – Best Fantasy Audiobooks Discussion