2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults

The Amazing Audiobooks list for those ages 12-18 is drawn from the previous two years of spoken-word releases and presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

The 2011 Amazing Audiobooks features a wide range of recordings, with 31 titles representing diverse genres and styles, including historical fiction, fantasy, and realistic fiction.

Members of the 2011 Amazing Audiobooks Committee are: Chair Jamie Mayo, Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library; Angela Craig, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Library; Betsy Crone, Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, N.C.; Viola Dyas, Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library; Jennie A.D. Evans, Carrollton (Texas) Public Library; Sara Fitzgerald, Martin County (Fla.) Library System; Jennifer Lawson, San Diego County (Calif.) Library; Sasha Matthews Chesapeake (Va.) Public Library; and Julia Riley, Pflugerville (Texas) Community Library.

The committee also selected a Top Ten list. * denotes a Top Ten title.


A Savage Thunder: Antietam and the Bloody Road to Freedom, by Jim Murphy, read by Kevin Orton. Recorded Books, 2009. 3 hours, 3 discs, ISBN : 978-1-4407-1409-2.

The Battle of Antietam turned the tide in favor of the Union, allowing Lincoln to put forth the Emancipation Proclamation. Kevin Orton's narration renders the frustration of this deadly battle through the stories of the people involved.


Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman, read by Katherine Kellgren. Listening Library, 2010. 4 hours, 23 minutes, 4 discs, ISBN: 978-0-3077-1024-6.

Kellgren is well-matched to this historical novel about feisty heroine Meggy Swann.Through her ability to sing in character, honk like a goose and capture the voices of a variety of Londoners, Kellgren transports audiences to Meggy’s Elizabethan world.

Beat the Band by Don Calame , read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 8 hours, 17 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-1493-7.

When Cooper is paired with "Hot Dog Helen" for his health class project, he decides he must do something to counteract the effect on his popularity...namely starting a band to compete in his school's Battle of the Bands. Nick Podehl rocks as the smart aleck, wise-cracking, Cooper.

*The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine, read by Kirby Heyborne. Listening Library, 2010. 7 hours, 9 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 9780307710581.

Dit and Emma create a powerful friendship that transcends racial lines in the American South during a time of strife and upheaval. Kirby Heyborne's lilting southern accent brings to life this tender coming of age story.

The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart, read by Kirsten Potter. Listening Library, 2010. 5 hours, 5 minutes, 4 discs, ISBN: 9780739381076.

Ruby Oliver reflects on the disastrous events of her sophomore year by looking back through the "Boy Book," which she created with the help of her former friends. Kirsten Potter’s narration captures the humor and drama of Ruby’s high school misadventures.

*Dreamdark Silksinger by Lani Taylor, read by Cassandra Campbell. Brilliance Audio, 2009. 13 hours, 18 minutes, 11 discs, ISBN: 978-1-14418-0231-6.

While fleeing the devils that killed the last of her faerie clan, Whisper Silksinger, meets Hirik, a young mercenary with an ancient scimitar and secrets of his own. Campbell's rendition of this mesmerizing story is sure to keep readers engaged to the very end.

Enola Holmes: The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan by Nancy Springer, read by Katherine Kellgren. Recorded Books, 2009. 3 hours, 54 minutes, 4 discs, ISBN : 978-1-4361-6162-6.

Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes, younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, utilizes her detective skills and various disguises to save Lady Cecily Alistair from an arranged marriage. Katherine Kellgren perfectly captures Enola's spunky personality, as well as the demeanor of each supporting character.

*Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, read by Jeffrey Cummings. Brilliance Audio. 2010, 12 hours, 29 minutes, 11 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-8871-6.

Finnikin was only a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now on the cusp of manhood, he is compelled to join forces with the mysterious Evanjalin who claims that her dark dreams will break the curse that exiled half their kingdom. This engaging epic fantasy is enhanced by Jeffrey Cummings’ pacing and captivating voice.

Heist Society by Ally Carter, read by Angela Dawe. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 6 hours, 10 minutes, 5 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-2674-9.

Katarina Bishop’s escape from the family business of stealing valuable art pieces is cut short when a powerful mobster pins the theft of his secret works on her father. Angela Dawe does an amazing job of creating a range of characters in this high stakes adventure in which Katarina races against time to find and steal back the missing paintings in order to save her father’s life.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, read by Laura Flanagan, Jeremy Guskin, and Steve Coombs. HighBridge Company, 2009. 6 hours, 45 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN : 1598877569.

After their failed suicide attempts land them in a psychiatric hospital, teenagers Vanessa, Tony, and Conner forge a friendship while they attempt to resolve their various emotional issues. The narrators provide their characters with distinct, emotionally charged voices.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, read by Kim Mai Guest. Listening Library, 2010. 11 hours, 37 minutes, 10 discs, ISBN : 978-0307707079.

Finn is an inmate in Incarceron, a prison sealed off from the rest of the world, while the warden’s daughter Claudia is imprisoned by an oppressive society. When they each find a mysterious key that allows them to communicate, they begin to work together to escape their individual prisons. Kim Mai Guest portrays the myriad of characters while nailing the pacing of the story.

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han, read by Jessica Almasy. Recorded Books, 2010. 6 hours 45 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4498-2017-6.

After a heart-breaking loss, Belly reevaluates her relationships with family,friends and love interests, Conrad and Jeremiah. Almasy's clever and skilled narration convincingly alternates between Belly’s and Jeremiah’s points of view.

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen, read by Andy Paris. Recorded Books, 2010. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN : 978-1-4498-0647-7.

Plagued by Tourette's syndrome and a stepfather who despises him, Sam meets an old man who sends him on a road trip designed to help Sam discover the truth about his life. Andy Paris is convincing as a young man struggling with the effects of Tourette’s syndrome, capturing the inner turmoil in this coming of age story.

*The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness , read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 12 hours, 10 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-5267-0.

There is no such thing as privacy in New World, a place where men’s thoughts are broadcast for all to hear. When Todd discovers a hole of quiet in the chaos, he is forced to run for his life, only to discover that everything he’d been led to believe about New World is untrue. Podehl does a superior job of bringing the cacophonous Noise and the chaos of Todd’s escape to life.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, read by Alan Cumming. Simon and Schuster, 2009. 8 hours, 20 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN : 978-0-7435-8388-6.

In this steampunk adventure, Austrian Prince Alek is on the run from assassins. To save his life and his empire, he forms an alliance with Deryn, a member of the British War Service who just happens to be a girl disguised as a boy. Alan Cumming’s narration takes listeners into the heart of the action as heavy Clanker machinery and unique Darwinist creations collide.

*Muchacho by Louanne Johnson, read by Ozzie Rodriguez. Listening Library, 2009. 4 hours, 48 minutes, 4 CDs, ISBN: 978-0-7393-8599-9.

Eddie Corazon is smart, angry and bent on finding trouble. Then along comes Lupe, who makes his blood race and sees in Eddie something he doesn’t see in himself. Ozzie Rodriguez perfectly captures the voice of a Hispanic teenage male as well as the others who populate this story.

*One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia Williams, read by Sisi Aisha Johnson. Recorded Books, 2010. 5 hours, 15 minutes, 5 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4498-2196-8.

Delphine and her sisters fly to Oakland to meet the mother who abandoned them only to be foisted off on the Black Panthers’ community program staff. Sisi Aisha Johnson is convincing as the young Delphine, conveying the emotional impact of this historical novel.

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray, read by Bruce Mann. Listening Library, 2010. 6 hours, 10 minutes, 5 discs, ISBN : 0-7393-7914-3.

In their misguided grief, three friends decide the funeral for Ross, one of their best mates, wasn't what he would have wanted. To remedy the situation, they steal his ashes and hit the road for a Ross-inspired adventure. Bruce Mann’s voice and dialect give a strong sense of place while depicting the vulnerability of these teen characters.

*Precious by Sapphire, read by Bahni Turpin. Random House, 2009. 5 hours, 5 minutes, 4 discs, ISBN: 0307578119.

Claireece Precious Jones endures unimaginable hardships in her young life. Abused by her mother, raped by her father, she grows up poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed. Emotionally raw and gut-wrenching, Bahni Trupin’s reading renders Precious and each of the supporting characters as distinctly living, breathing human beings.

*Rapture of the Deep by L. A. Meyer read by Katherine Kellgren. Listen and Live Audio, 2010. 12 hours, 10 discs, ISBN: 978-1-59316-483-6.

Jacky Faber once again finds herself in the makings of history as she is forced to pioneer the first deep-sea diving bell in pursuit of Spanish treasure. Katherine Kellgren brings the feisty Jacky to life right along with the other colorful characters in this historical fiction offering.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, read by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering. Listening Library, 2010. 15 hours, 4 minutes, 12 discs, ISBN: 978-0-3077-4629-0.

In a story told across continents and centuries, Card and Bering portray both an edgy Brooklyn teen mourning the death of her younger brother and an eighteenth-century Parisian girl, caregiver to the doomed dauphin.The narrators’ dramatic, forceful performances meld two emotional and wrenching plot lines.

*The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon, read by Dion Graham. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 6 hours, 47 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-5865-8.

Sam, the son of a civil rights leader and brother to a member of the Black Panthers, observes the injustice around him, and tries to decide if he should follow the path of his brother, his father, or to forge his own. Dion Graham’s deep, gentle voice fits Sam perfectly as he contemplates the world and his place in it.

Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto by Eric Luper, read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 6hours, 33 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-5964-8.

After Seth Baumgartner has the worst afternoon of his life (his girlfriend dumps him and he sees his father on a date with another woman), he launches a podcast to delve deeper into the mysteries of love. Nick Podehl is pitch-perfect as a teenage boy who has been burned.

Split by Swati Avasthi, read by Joshua Swanson. Listening Library, 2010. 8 hours, 17 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-0-3075-7996-6.

Jace shows up at his estranged brother Christian’s apartment with nothing but his car and some new bruises. As Jace negotiates his rocky relationship with his brother, he must come to terms with his father’s abuse and his mother’s codependence. Joshua Swanson’s performance embodies the somewhat cocky voice of a smart, popular, funny teen.

Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison, read by Stina Nielsen. Recorded Books, 2010. 6 hours, 30 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4407-7774-5.

British teenager Georgia Nicolson fills her diary with tales of her successes and failures with boys and her adventures with her friends. Stina Nielsen captures the fabulosity and over-the-top humor of this British teenager.

Swim the Fly by Don Calame, read by Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 7 hours, 36 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-1488-3.

Fifteen-year-old Matt and his best friends Coop and Sean’s summer-time goal is to see a real, live naked girl. Nick Podehl renders a range of characters, from a senior citizen with one thing on his mind to a teenage girl with a French accent in this hilarious, slightly raunchy summer romp.

This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff, read by Heather Alicia Simms. Listening Library, 2009. 7 hours and 41 minutes, 6 CDs, ISBN : 978-0-7393-8000-0.

LaVaughn's hard work pays off when she is accepted into a women-in-science program that just might be her ticket to college. However, in an attempt to do a good deed for a friend, she ends up jeopardizing her dreams. Heather Alicia Simms's narration conveys the uncertainties and triumphs that LaVaughn experiences as she navigates her senior year of high school.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer, read by Emily Bauer. Listening Library, 2010. 6 CDs, ISBN: 978-0-3075-8227-0.

Miranda’s diary chronicles the continuing struggle to survive the after-affects of a meteor hitting the moon. Emily Bauer portrays Miranda’s moods and emotions, which are as turbulent as the chaotic world in which she lives.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, read by Bahni Turpin. Listening Library, 10 hours. 38 minutes, 9 discs, ISBN: 978-0-3077-1112-0.

Bahni Turpin gives an unforgettable performance, seamlessly slipping into the voices of wiseacre eighth-grader, Gratuity Tip Tucci, and her alien Boov companion as they embark on a rollicking road trip to track down Tip’s missing mother and save the planet. A laugh-out-loud presentation of Adam Rex’s popular satire.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, read by Caitlin Greer. Scholastic Audiobooks, 2009. 6 hours, 20 minutes, 5 discs, ISBN: 978-0-545-16091-9.

Full of romance and complex emotions, this scandalous story is set immediately following the end of World War II. Caitlin Greer personifies the longing and desire of a 15-year-old girl coming of age during a turbulent time in history.

White Cat by Holly Black, read by Jesse Eisenberg. Listening Library, 2010. 6 hours, 41 minutes, 6 discs, ISBN: 978-0-3077-1183-0.

Cassel is the only member of his family who does not possess the power of a curse worker. Life becomes confusing when he finds himself on the roof of his boarding school after a bout of sleepwalking. Jesse Eisenberg’s dark tenor gives readers a glimpse into this intriguing alternate New Jersey crime world.

*Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, read by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl. Brilliance Audio, 2010. 7 hours, 57 minutes, 7 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4418-4260-2.

After fate brings two boys with the same name together, their lives begin to change in unexpected ways. Macleod Andrews and Nick Podehl give brilliant performances in this story of identity, friendship and falling in love. Listeners will be riveted from the opening bars to the final triumphant notes.