Wednesday, November 2

Code Name Verity (and other YA audiobooks)

for the past few months I've been driving 2+ hours to Chicago (and then back) every other week or so. at some point in that time, my music collection started to get boring and the radio got even more boring, so I began grabbing library audiobooks to take with me.

usually I grab them in a mad rush between here and there. so far I've chosen mostly audiobook versions of young adult novels-- and I'm not sure why that's the pattern so far, but it is. maybe my local library's collections are heavily skewed that way. or maybe I'm over-correcting against all the very non-YA reading I do during the rest of my life: dense academic publications like Latour's Reassembling the Social, Benkler's Wealth of Networks, Law's After Method, Wenger's Digital Habitats, Katie King's Networked Reenactments again, and eventually Linda Tuhiwai Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies, I hope.

just this weekend, I finished Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity. it's a story I'd heard much of, out in the periphery of my attentions to such things. I'm glad the library had it, and I'm glad I checked it out, because it was wonderfully performed and so very satisfyingly layered. the audiobook I listened to came to me in the voices of two actresses, Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell.

it feels almost like a spoiler to explain that there are two actresses because there are two heroines, two points of view, and two whole stories. the first half on its own was a beautiful, deft arc of first-person narration. when that half ended and the next began, with three more disks of the book left, I was surprised and delighted. the gradual unfolding of yet another story arc, intertwined with the first, was thoroughly intriguing.

I don't tend to enjoy first-person narratives, but these two did not feel fake or shallow in any sense. perhaps their semi-epistolary nature saved them both. it added depth, for me at least. I also wonder if hearing it, rather than reading it myself, made a difference on this point. the actresses' voices surely added to how alive and immediate the characters felt from beginning to end.

to sum up: Code Name Verity is highly recommended.

I'll list the other YA audiobooks I've consumed lately, also. none of them struck me as greatly as Wein's story has, so they don't get full reviews. just snippets.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield, read by Alan Cumming. cute, but quite predictable. some neat world-building.
The Shepherd's Crown, by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs. charming, solid, and on the verge of epic, as Pratchett tends to be.
The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman. simply enchanting, in a gloriously haunting way. I listened to it twice in a row.
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler. ridiculous and eye-roll worthy, mainly.

Jeremiah and I are also still in the middle of listening to American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. it's been a long time since I originally read that one, so it's been very enjoyable to hear. hurrah for audiobooks and the driving-time that carves out so much space for listening.

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