So I’ve been on an audiobook kick lately. They make cleaning, cooking, and driving more enjoyable, and I’d rather listen to them while knitting than watch TV. I’ve gone through a whole slew of them in the past month, but three stood out as my absolute, recommend-them-to-everyone favorites.
First up is a YA novel written and read by Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. When I popped the first CD into my car’s player, my first thought was, “There is no way I can listen to this guy’s voice for the next six CDs.” But I decided to leave it in until I got home from the library, at least, and in that 10 minutes, I was hooked. Alexie’s voice becomes Junior’s, and his reading is part of what makes this recording so fantastic.
The book is told in first person by Junior, a Spokane Indian teenager living on a reservation. Early in the book, he realizes that the only way he’ll make anything of himself is to get himself off the “res,” which he does by transferring to the all white high school in the nearest town. Between the writing and the reading, it wouldn’t even matter if the plot was so-so, but I found myself getting completely wrapped up in Junior’s story. I highly recommend this audiobook.
As for adult books, I was absolutely enthralled by Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Oryx and Crake came out a few years ago, and The Year of the Flood was released within the past year, but they tell two sides to the same story. Basically, in the not-so-distant future, most of the human race has been wiped out by a deadly pandemic. Oryx and Crake follows Jimmy, while The Year of the Flood is told by Ren and Toby.
Each story spans only a brief time in the characters’ present and is mostly told in flashbacks of their lives before the “waterless flood,” as Toby calls it. Through these flashbacks, each story on its own as well as the two books clicks into place into a masterfully coherent big picture. More than once I was struck with “Oh!” moments when tales aligned or some piece of the puzzle was casually revealed. The way the stories all build on each other is just the coolest thing. Not to mention that Atwood’s fabricated future is, in my opinion, extremely well done.
The readers for both books are fantastic. My one complaint was the musical numbers in The Year of the Flood. They just…didn’t seem to fit. Luckily, it was easy to just skip them. Overall, I didn’t want to stop listening to either book, and I didn’t want either to end!