Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?
One of the most basic pieces of writing advice is, “Read it out loud and hear how it sounds.” Poor writing is much more noticeable when read aloud; you notice extraneous details and unnecessary conversations much more easily because you can’t hurry past them as you might if you were reading to yourself and not out loud. I tried to listen to a John Grisham book a few years ago (The Street Lawyer) so I could get an idea of why he is so popular, but couldn’t get through the first few chapters in the audiobook edition. The writing was just not strong enough to stand up to being read aloud.
On the other hand, sometimes an excellent audiobook narrator can carry a book with a strong storyline through any clunky spots in the writing so skillfully that you hardly notice them (e.g. The Help).
I find it hard to review audiobooks because I can’t flip back through them easily to refresh my memory of what I wanted to be sure to mention, so I often end up never writing the review. Also, I haven’t figured out how to highlight quotes or favorite parts, especially since I’m usually driving as I listen.
When I read audiobook reviews, I like to know primarily if the narrator was a good fit, doing real justice to the book or even enhancing it. (Accents can be tricky; I don’t know if I’ve heard an authentic Boston accent yet in books that are set in the Boston area. But a true Boston accent could be pretty annoying for the length of a whole book, so it’s probably best that most audiobook narrators tread lightly when it comes to accents.)
The other main thing I try to glean from an audiobook review is whether the reviewer recommends the audio edition as a superior format for the book. That is, does the narration do more than just provide a read-aloud version of the book, actually adding a layer of appeal through a stand-out performance? A prime example of narrators embodying the characters’ voices and nailing the sound of the story as the author intended it to be heard would be Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell’s narration of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Please let me know what you think, and keep the recommendations coming!