AUDIOBOOK WEEK: So You Want To Review Audiobooks

This week is Audiobook Week, hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. Bloggers are encouraged to participate using the discussion topics on Jen’s blog. I hope to encourage more readers to listen to audiobooks — not as a replacement for books, but as a way to enhance your reading, or as a way to show readers how they can read more.

Today’s discussion: 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?

I’m quite new when it comes to reviewing audiobooks, but there are a few things that I like to see in a review. I’m still learning to put these elements in my OWN review, but I do think they’re essential.

1. Talk about the quality of the book.

We all know what physical books look like, so there’s usually no issues with quality (though, sometimes the font, as in Marie Lu’s Legend, or in Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood is different — worth pointing out), but sometimes an audiobook might be slightly questionable quality. Most of the ones I’ve listened to are quite good, but maybe the narrator sounds like their voice is too close to the microphone? Maybe there are two narrators and their voices just don’t match well with one another?

2. Does the narration add anything to the book? 

We all have that inner voice when we read a physical book and it’s great when you pick up an audiobook to have the narrator not just read the book, but give you a book experience. A few John Green audiobooks have done this for me — An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The latter one especially was wonderful since the book has parts that are written like a script with not much guidance as to how sentences should be said. There is also singing. The narrators were awesome for all of this, taking the book to another level!

3. Is the story easy to follow in audiobook? 

For the most part, a lot of the books I’ve picked up are quite easy to follow. Though, I did try to listen to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein was extremely difficult for me to follow while driving, with the story jumping around from the present to the past and the narrator had an accent that was hard to decipher at points; whereas Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch was a great driving audiobook. She spoke clearly and at an easy pace that was easy to follow along with.

Those are my main points for reviewing audiobooks. Of course, I want to know what you thought of the story itself — but it’s even more worthwhile if you’re reviewing an audiobook to give some points on the audio itself. I’ve seen a few reviews of audiobooks that mention nothing of the narrator or of the audiobook experience, which usually deters me from listening to the book, when it could be quite good!

Do you have anything you’d add to my list? 

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “AUDIOBOOK WEEK: So You Want To Review Audiobooks

  1. I definitely find non-linear story lines harder to follow that linear, especially if the narrator doesn’t do a good job delineating page breaks and transitions, I had this problem with Zone One by Colson Whitehead, never was sure where in the story I was.

    Although, some narrators do “stream of consciousness” very well (like Scott Brick) and actually makes some harder to follow moments in books, take on a more poetic feel.

    I think your first point is very important. With the rise of ACX, indie authors/ and independent productions are becoming more common. Many of these are very professional, but like self published books, sometimes there are editorial issues specific to the audiobook, and you can no longer assume that just because it’s sold on audible, it’s a quality production.

  2. All great points, thanks for sharing! When the audiobook quality is perfect you don’t notice it at all. But sometimes it can really distract from the reading/listening experience. And I’ve gotten lost sometimes with audiobooks with complicated plots, so I like to know about that in reviews.

    • I agree! Poor quality can be quite a distraction. Currently, I’m listening to ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ a book I borrowed from a friend, and it’s kind of fuzzy AND the author is very British. I have to concentrate quite hard to listen!

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My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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