I’m not sure if I’ve learned my lesson about buying audiobooks just because I like the narrator. I picked up The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley after browsing through a bunch of the books narrated by Luke Daniels… which is not the first time I’ve picked up a book narrated by Luke Daniels just because. Let me back up.
Luke Daniels is a fantastic narrator whom I once described to friend thusly: “I hope he has little kids that reads stories to at night doing all the voices.” Not that his voice work isn’t lovely, but somewhere out there I’d like to know there are some super lucky children getting to hear him do a variety of voices for Where the Wild Things Are or Harry Potter, or whatever.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks — I got so fed up with the radio in Kansas City about five years ago and switched over to audiobooks for my commute pretty much exclusively. Although even before that when my husband and I could commute together, we often had audiobooks playing. But my Audible library is extensive these days, and I feel like that comes with a need to find books read by really enjoyable voices. I found Luke Daniels when I started listening to the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne (by way of the similarities in it and The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, which I loved for years). Anyhow. When you find a narrator that’s good, getting into the book is easier and I feel like the stories go faster because they’re into the characters in a way that makes them flow.
Davina Porter is another narrator I’ve grown to love through her work on the Outlander series audiobooks. I don’t have a lot of series I listen to on Audible necessarily, mostly because if the narrator is only so-so, I don’t have a lot of interest in picking up the next book. [And of course, Audible lets you return books you don’t like… which I’ve done, and is a very nice feature.] (Again, #notspon, I just really like Audible.)
So, I say all this to say that I like Luke Daniels as a narrator and have several times gone through his catalog to see what new things he’s read that I might like to listen to. He’s done Scott Meyer’s Wizard 2.0 series which is … just okay? But not through any fault on his part as the narrator. The writing has some issues.
I got off-track again.
The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley. It’s a stand alone fiction novel based very loosely on one of the author’s family members who went missing for a time in the fifties. The story takes place from the point of the missing character’s nine year old son, Jasper. Jasper spends the book desperately trying to learn more about his mother’s life: her childhood, her work, and most importantly where she went and why no one will tell him what’s going on.
Luke Daniels narrates from the mind of this poor nine year old who sees and reads and learns more than any kid should about his mother’s troubled past, and present.
By the end of the book I was eager to finish, not just to have it over so I could move on to something more fascinating, but I was finally finally interested in what was going on. That took more than two-thirds of the book to accomplish. I felt like so much of this story was unnecessary. Sure, everything is daunting when you’re a nine year old boy in the early fifties and everyone is always telling you to butt out, that you’re not old enough, that you can’t understand. And here’s where the book falls down for me.
The thing that most often takes me out of a story is if I feel, as a reader, that I’m being condescended to by the author. I won’t say that’s what happened necessarily, at least not in a way that made me stop listening before it was over. But I did get very annoyed by the book many times because it’s far more obvious to an adult reader than a nine year old what’s going on. So I felt that the pacing of the story was just awful, it plodded along, doling out information in the slowest manner possible.
When the end came, and thank goodness it’s not a super massive book (12 hours, I think… which is average for a normal novel length story via audio), I didn’t feel vindicated on Jasper’s behalf either. I didn’t feel like anything had been accomplished. The small bits of resolution that do happen don’t really happen to any of the main characters. They happen around them, as circumstance.
Not too mention, even my favorite narrator is going to run out of new ways to make the same gruff, farmer voices of the early fifties sound distinct. So it was kind of a lose-meh book for me. The only victory (for me) is in having finished it at last so I could move on. [I have a horrible time quitting books, even if I don’t like them. I’ve only done it twice since joining Audible, once was the narrator and the second time was the book itself. *shudders just thinking about it*]
Is anyone else a huge fan of Audible though? Do you do this too — pick out books because of the narrator? And please tell me someone else love Luke’s narration like I do.