The Movie Version.
By Emma Wunsch. Read by Laura
2017. 9.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $87.75
(9781501938627). Gr. 9–12.
Amelia and her older brother, Toby, are
obsessed with movies: they can quote their favorites verbatim without ever breaking stride
in a conversation.
In real life, though,
Toby is definitely
the leading man and
star, while Amelia
prefers to hang out
behind the scenes.
However, during his
senior year of high
school, Toby begins to act strangely—
locking himself in his room for hours, cutting off
contact with his friends, listening to CDs on
repeat while scribbling furiously in a journal,
and becoming increasingly paranoid of being
spied upon. When he is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Amelia’s world crumbles. Keating
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast.
By Robin McKinley. Read by Charlotte Parry.
2013. 7hrs. Recorded Books, CD, $46.57 (9781470360238). Gr. 8–10.
First published in 1978, Beauty was an early forerunner of the
many fairy tales later adapted for teen audiences. This genre, popular
particularly with middle- and high-school
girls, relies on interesting twists to the
originals, as does McKinley’s reworking
of “Beauty and the Beast.” Beauty, whose given name is actually
Honor, is quite plain, especially compared to her sisters. In tak-
ing her father’s place in the Beast’s castle, she demonstrates that,
although her nickname may be ironic, her given name is an accu-
rate description of her character. Parry’s delicious voicing brings
this richly woven story to a new generation, immersing listeners
in the varied settings of wealthy medieval city dwellers, country peasants, and the Beast in
his opulent castle. With subtle pacing and inflection, Parry mines the emotional depths cre-
ated by McKinley for this age-old tale of loyalty and love, effectively distinguishing among
characters and taking the genre to new heights. —Sharon Grover
The Silver Kiss.
By Annette Curtis Klause. Read by Ali Ahn.
2010. 7hr. Recorded Books, CD, $66.75 (9781440757051). Gr. 9–12.
Originally published in 1990, The Silver Kiss is a precursor to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight
(2005) and the bevy of teen vampire-romance novels popular in the early aughts. Zoe is a
typical 1990s heroine, beautifully pale and slight but utterly alone because her mother is dy-
ing of cancer and her best friend is moving away. However, when
vampire Simon encounters Zoe one night wandering through a
park, he is instantly smitten, and Zoe’s life begins to change as
she falls into a romance surrounded by death and grief. Klause
originally wrote this as a novel in verse, and Ahn’s melodic nar-
ration highlights Klause’s poetic prose. Although Simon’s voice is
rather weak and there are a few mix-ups in character voices, Ahn’s
skill is evident in the care she gives to Zoe’s mother, as her voice
gets weaker and raspier throughout the novel. Other standouts
are Ahn’s voicing of Zoe, whose voice alternates between melancholy and hope, and her best
friend, whose upbeat and relatable tone is in stark contrast to that of the sad, isolated Zoe.
As a bonus, this audio edition includes two short stories starring Zoe and Simon—“The
Christmas Cat” and “Summer Love”—as well as an author’s note. —Colleen Seisser
YA Audio Classics Highlighting recordings from 50 years of YA novels.
his compelling reading of Sáenz’s realistic
first-person novel about an introspective
high-school senior named Sal, who’s troubled
by recent developments in his increasingly
turbulent life. All initially seems well, or
at least tolerable, for the teen as he enjoys
time and conversations with his adoptive gay
father, members of his Mexican American
family, and his two best friends, a rebellious
girl named Sam and a street-smart, intellectual guy named Fito. Daymond gracefully
alters his voice to convincingly play the supporting characters, especially Sal’s loving
grandmother, stricken with cancer. Things
become intense as Sal finds himself reacting violently to situations, striking people
in anger. Daymond conveys Sal’s fear and
confusion in a manner that avoids melodrama or histrionics. Reading at a measured,
unhurried pace, Daymond keeps listeners
quietly riveted. As tragic events unfold, the
story gets under the skin. Daymond’s masterful narration enhances this moving title.
beautifully narrates this thoughtful novel with
sympathy and humor, as Amelia, Toby, and
their family grieve, fall apart, and begin to heal.
As Amelia, Keating sounds down-to-earth and
overwhelmed in her role as the family’s “good
girl.” Toby is portrayed at first as enthusiastic
and bursting with energy, and his descent into
depression will hit the listener hard. Supporting characters, like stoner Muppet, sarcastic
fashionista Ray, and patient Epstein, are fully
realized. This novel is a moving account, narrated with sensitivity and honesty, of the
impact of mental illness. —Lynette Pitrak
By Bill Konigsberg. Read by Pete Cross.
2017. 9hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99 (9781520066776).
What initially sounds like a very strange
premise unfolds into a raucously funny and
surprisingly romantic novel in this, the first
installment of Konigsberg’s Openly Straight
series. Narrator Cross walks the line between
nebbish and cocky in giving voice to main-character Rafe’s sarcastic worldview, managing
to sell the story’s humor, drama, and deeply
emotional moments thanks to how intensely
genuine his narration feels. Some listeners
may get confused during group scenes, as the
all-boys boarding school where the book is
set overwhelms Cross’ ability to vary his voice
so frequently, especially when it comes to the
“jocks” Rafe initially befriends. However, Cross
does better with the “survivalist nerd” clique,
and once Rafe learns his classmates’ names,
group conversations are easier to track. Interactions between Rafe and the love interest are
consistently touching and funny, if sometimes
cringeworthy, and will have listeners waiting
impatiently for the sequel. —Meagan Black
The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence.
By Jennifer Bell. Read by Jayne Entwistle.
2017. 9.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $45 (9780735207059).
Entwistle’s narration is chock-full of mischief and delight as she spirits listeners away to
the secret underground city of Lundinor. Ivy
Sparrow and her older brother, Seb, have been
transported there and seek to save their parents
from the Dirge, a dark and formidable force.
Entwistle adds a note of wonder to Ivy’s voice
as she marvels at the fantastical world they’ve
entered, while as Seb, in contrast, she speaks
in skeptical tones. As the dented bicycle bell
that chirps out helpful hints to Ivy, Entwistle
employs a high-pitched “back-to-front” style of
speech, which is completely charming. Unsolicited aid also comes from a surly toned local
thief, Valian Kaye. Entwistle skillfully manages
the bracing pace and never lets up as Ivy and
company race against the clock, following obscure clues through the streets of Lundinor’s
markets, eluding the shouting Underguards,
and navigating the often-confusing laws governing this world. —Mary Thompson
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