A few years ago, when I decided I wanted to try listening to audiobooks, I learned about the Odyssey Award. This award is given out annually to the producer of the best audiobook for children or young adults in the U.S. I figured since these audiobooks won awards for being an audiobook that they would be worth listening to. So I made a list and started marking off the ones I’ve read.
As of February 2021, I’ve listened to almost all of the winners and about nineteen (out of fifty-two) of the honor titles. There are several from both the winner and honor lists that I have read before, but I plan to listen to them anyways so I can truly say I’ve listened to them all. There are also a few I started and wasn’t comfortable finishing because of the content, but I’m counting them as finished anyways since I at least attempted to read them.
Because I’ve listened to a lot of them and plan to continue to listen to more, I thought I’d share which ones I enjoyed the most or the ones that surprised me.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West: Ahh, this book. I love it in any format, but the narrators did such a great job bringing Puck’s and Sean’s personalities to life that I highly recommend listening to this if you like audiobooks. I mean, I’d also recommend reading it too in order to soak up all that beautiful writing.
Sadie by Courtney Summers, narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner and more: I’ve written about this book before, but I have to just reiterate how phenomenal this audiobook is. I’m not a huge mystery/true crime reader, but this book brought the story to life. While it includes a full cast narration, there are two main points of view. The first one is a podcast by a radio personality as he tracks down a missing girl. The second is the missing girl narrating the events that lead up to her disappearance. Listening to this was like I was listening to an actual podcast with music and commercial breaks and the like. It was so cool. The narrator who reads Sadie’s chapters also does a phenomenal job to tell her side of the story.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, narrated by Allan Corduner: If you want to listen to a book that will make your heart hurt, this is the one! The narrator is phenomenal at all the accents for the various characters. He has such a good voice for that sad, heartbreaking type of story.
Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt, narrated by Tess Netting and Cassandra Morris: This is one that really surprised me because I didn’t think I’d be interested in a novel in verse. But the narrators were so good at capturing that middle school girl drama that I found myself riveted by the story and the fast paced nature of the writing style.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant: This book is narrated by David Tennant so of course it’s brilliant and a lot of fun. I really need to listen to the rest of the series, also narrated by Tennant.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one but it was such a delight. I love a good old mystery set during the Victorian era, and the narrator does an excellent job with all the different girls.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl : I’ve read and listened to this, and I really enjoyed the audiobook, especially since the narrator does the animal voices so perfectly. If you found yourself having trouble reading the book because of the specific style, the audiobook is the way to go.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan, narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl: After not caring about The Fault in Our Stars, I didn’t think I’d ever read another John Green book. I’m even more surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I love the two different narrators and the fact that the main character of the story isn’t either narrator. This book has it’s ridiculous moments for sure, but I didn’t hate it. I’m less hesitant to read more of Green’s and Leviathan’s books.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockard: I love this entire Track series. It’s such a good middle grade series and really gets to the heart of issues kids face while keeping it light and fun. Also, Guy Lockard is an excellent narrator.
This isn’t a complete list of Odyssey audiobooks I enjoyed. There are many that were fun even if I didn’t connect to the characters or care about the story as much as I did with some of these. There are many where the narrators are phenomenal, including authors reading their own books like Jason Reynolds and Elizabeth Acevedo. There are many that are super important to sharing specific perspectives and point of views. And there are many, many more audiobooks that are just as great as these ones that didn’t receive any kind of award for their production.