Monday, February 8, 2016

The Best Voice Actors in Audiobooks

A voice can make or break an audiobook. Paper or e-reader versions of books depend solely on the reader liking the author’s style, but an audiobook is a whole different enchilada. Not only does the writing have to be on point, the actor needs to have the chops to carry the personality of the main character….the secondary characters…the tertiary characters… I think you get my point.

I listen to audiobooks at a rate somewhere around two a month, so I’ve heard many different voice actors succeed (and fail) to bring a book to life. Only the best books can recover from a dreadful, dull, or odd voice casting*.

In the past year, though, I’ve discovered some of the best audiobook performances I think I’ve ever listened to. I always have an audiobook in my car CD player – these are the ones that make getting out of my car nearly impossible.

James Marsters – The Dresden Files

If you haven’t read any of the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher, you’re missing out. They’re all the best parts of fantasy and a hard-boiled detective novel. Buffy fans will recognize the reader’s voice as Spike. Marsters’ tracks feel raw and uncut, like you’ve run into Harry Dresden in a seedy bar and are hearing the stories from the wizard himself.   

Will Patton – Raven Cycle Series

When I read that Will Patton read this series, my brain did NOT connect the Remember the Titans actor with the gravelly, intense reader of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. He’s a perfect match for the dark, oft-times creepy world of Blue Sargent and her boys from Aglionby Academy. There’s a lot of tension in these books, and Patton’s voice is like a bit of magic that weaves the nitty-gritty moments of real life in with the mysterious power of Stiefvater’s fictional world.

Tim Curry – Sabriel

I’ve read this book several times since I discovered it in middle school, and I have to say that Tim Curry is probably the only person I can think of who could possibly have handled the portrayal of Mogget. Or, really, the portrayal of ANYTHING and ANYONE set in the Old Kingdom. His brilliant use of different voices and tones makes it seem like you’re listening to a full cast recording, but no, it’s just Curry calling to you from a world of Free Magic and necromancy.

Lauren Fortgang – The Darkest Part of the Forest

If my young adult novels ever make it to Audiobook Land, I would do anything** to get Lauren Fortgang to read them. She’s just…she’s the bomb. That’s all you need to know. She’s the bomb, and she made a wonderful book even better with her performance. Her timing is impeccable, her tone perfect.

Emily Gray – Soulless

Comedy is not easy, and sarcasm can be difficult to detect in text. Gray masterfully tackles both of these tricky items and makes it look as easy as taking a bite of pie. Other comedies I’ve listened to have sometimes had moments of, “Shouldn’t that have sounded different?” I never thought that while listening to Gray read as Alexia. I especially loved the way she could speak a wry aside without making me feel like I was missing out on the rest of the scene.  

Who do you think are the best audiobook readers out there?

Michelle LOVES old school detective novels and just realized she hasn’t read enough of them. 

*First on my list of “odd” voice casting: Using a male reader when the narrator of the book is female. I’m sorry, what? Why? What in the world made producers think a dude would be a better choice for that?

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