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Audiobooks are GREAT. Print and ebooks are also great, but they give a different experience than listening to a great story. Young Adult fantasy in particular lends itself to audiobooks because the storylines are (usually) straightforward, the characters are engaging, and the setting takes us to a world where magic exists in some form or another. Fantasy deals with the same problems as our reality, but through a different lens, which in turn allows us to process life’s challenges from more directions than just head-on. The more perspectives we can incorporate into our overall thought process, the more informed we are, especially as we tackle what it means to be alive in Terran Sun Cycle 2022.
It sounds like an exaggeration, but humans have been imagining fantastical and paranormal creatures for millennia, with no sign of slowing down. It means something deeply important.
A good narrator is key to a successful audio book, and because the market for young adult books is so vast, there are a lot of excellent narrators in the space. Bringing a book and its characters to life is tricky; the narrator has to understand the nuances of the characters without giving anything away — it’s a challenging balance to maintain. Thankfully, these intrepid narrators are up to the task, handling character development, narrative color, and tongue-twisting fantasy words with ease. Take a dive into these skillfully narrated series this holiday season!
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, Narrated by Yetide Badaki
Series: The Nsibidi Scripts Series
Sunny doesn’t fit in. She’s Nigerian, but born in America. She’s a great athlete, but because she has albinism, she can’t play sports in the sun. But it turns out she also has latent talents that allow her to reshape the world.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Narrated by Bahni Turpin
Series: The Legacy of Orisha
Adeyemi’s West Africa–based debut novel is an absolute stunner. Magic has disappeared under the rule of the king, when before, the soil hummed with the power of the Orïsha. Zélie has a chance to right that wrong, but it will take everything she has.
Check out more of Bahni Turpin’s amazing audio performances here.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, Narrated by Joneice Abbott-Pratt
Series: The Legendborn Cycle
Bree Matthews has been accepted to a residential high school program at UNC-Chapel Hill, which seems like an excellent escape from the recent death of her mother. But that all changes when Bree witnesses a magical attack on campus. As the cause of Bree’s mother’s death starts to come clear, there are questions inside questions about legacies, family, and the history of Chapel Hill itself.
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, Narrated by Soneela Nankani
Series: The Pandava Series
Aru Shah is a fibber, and three of her classmates have arrived at her house to prove it. Aru decides to light the Lamp of Bharata to prove that she’s telling the truth – which she was not. But lighting the Lamp awakens the Sleeper, and now the four of them must save the world.
If you love her performance of Aru Shah, discover more of Soneela Nankani’s work here.
Soulless by Gail Carriger, Narrated by Emily Gray
Series: The Parasol Protectorate Series
Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster with no soul. She’s been attacked by an extremely rude vampire, who she then killed by accident, and now a werewolf has been sent by the Queen to investigate. It’s up to Alexia to figure out what’s going on before she’s blamed for the whole situation.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Narrated by Xanthe Elbrick
Series: The Graceling Realm
Gracelings are blessed with a grace. Graces can be anything: creating beautiful clothes, cooking, leadership…or, in Katsa’s case, killing. It makes her a dangerous weapon, especially in the hands of a king whose grace is that people believe anything he says.
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, Narrated by Nikki Massoud
Series: The Sandsea Trilogy
Based firmly in the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, Abdullah weaves together stories of a thief, a prince and a quest to find an ancient lamp that will revive a dying land — at the cost of the lives of all the djinn.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, Narrated by Anisha Davia
Series: The Scholomance
The Scholomance is a school where a huge percentage of the students end up dead on a regular basis, so when El Higgins decides that Orion Lake needs to die as well, it shouldn’t cause too much ruckus. Except it’s a decision that will cause ripples far beyond the walls — walls? — of the school.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bashon, Narrated by Jordan Cobb
Series: This Poison Heart
Briseis’s power is to grow plants from seed to maturity with a single touch. She hopes to finally learn to control it at her late aunt’s dilapidated New York estate, willed to Bri’s family. But when she gets there, the mansion is full of unexpected plants, not to mention neighbors and strangers who being showing up for tinctures and elixirs.
With so many different fantasy worlds and stories to choose from, where should one begin? With the story that strikes your fancy the most, of course.