2016 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults

Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2016

The 2016 Amazing Audiobooks list, comprised of  fiction titles and  nonfiction, features recordings covering a wide range of interests for young adults from historical fiction, to horror, to realistic fiction.

“We were really blown away by the quality of this year’s audiobooks.” said Chair Sarah Hashimoto. “These titles take audios to the next level of excellence, with thrilling sound effects, music, character voices, and more. There’s something here for every teen, including fast-paced adventure, fantasy, horror, and romance.”

Members of the 2016 Amazing Audiobooks Committee are: Chair Sarah Hashimoto, Jackson District Library, Jackson, MI; Claire Covington, Broadway High School Library, Broadway, VA; Emily Farmer, Nashville Public Library, Nashville, TN; Janis Fox, Forsyth County Public Library, Winston-Salem, NC; Charlene Hsu Gross, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA; Marcus Lowry, Ramsey County Library, Roseville, MN; Debi Shultz, Centralia School District, Centralia, WA; Daniel Gray Tackett, Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, Vestavia Hills, AL; Cynthia S. Vanderbrink, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Toledo, OH; and administrative assistant Melanie Wachsmann, Lone Star College, Cyfair Branch, Cypress, TX.

* denotes the audio was selected as a top ten.

Download a handout of the list here.


2016 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults

*denotes a Top Ten title


Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive  by Laura Hillenbrand, read by Edward Herrmann. Listening Library, 2014. 8 hours, 8 minutes; 7 discs. 9780553397116. Louis Zamperini’s plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, and he manages to survive being a castaway and living in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Herrmann’s strong, smooth cadence brings the listener both excitement and dread in this incredible biography.

*What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, read by Wil Wheaton. Blackstone Audio, 2014. 6 hours, 36 minutes; digital. 9781483030180. Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic xkcd, answers increasingly absurd questions from across the internet in a serious, scientific manner…usually. Wheaton’s inherent humor provides an enjoyable and captivating listening experience.


100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith, read by Kirby Heyborne. Tantor Audio, 2015. 7 hours.  6 discs. 9781494514099. Finn Easton is trying to find his own story, but between epileptic blank-outs and his doomed first love, he has a hard time seeing his path. Heyborne's angsty, discontented teen guy narration perfectly expresses Finn's frustration with the universe.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely, read by Keith Nobbs, Guy Lockard.  Simon and Schuster, 2015. 6 hours, 35 minutes. Digital. 9781442398672. What should have been a typical Friday night explodes into racial violence when Quinn witnesses a cop beating 16-year-old Rashad. Nobbs and Lockard’s compelling narration infuses this audiobook with realistic energy and attitude.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, read by Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyers.  Listening Library, 2015. 11 hours, 4 minutes. 9 discs. 9780553552195. After Theodore “Freak” Finch talks down popular Violet Markey from the school bell tower, they team up for a project wandering Indiana.  Meyers’ authentic teen voice captures Violet’s fear and heartbreak; Heyborne voices Finch with such vibrancy it makes his descent all the more heartbreaking.

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell, read by Euan Morton. Macmillan Audio, 2015. 13 hours, 37 minutes. 11 discs. 9781427262028. Simon Snow, the Chosen One, is supposed to be saving the world, but is instead aimlessly leaking magic and obsessing over his possibly murderous roommate, Baz. Morton captures the nuances of each character’s speech with superb timing that accentuates this book’s laugh aloud humor and tender pathos.

Crown of Three by J.D. Rinehart, read by Kirby Heyborne. Simon and Schuster, 2015. 11 hours, 30 minutes. 9 discs. 9781442385962. Tyrannical King Brutan’s triplets are the only hope for the war-torn kingdom of Toronia, but they have been scattered throughout the land. Heyborne combines an impressive array of voices and emotion to transport the listener to Rinehart’s fantastical world.

*The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, read by Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson. Hachette Audio, 2015. 10 hours, 30 minutes. Digital. 9781478959830. Carly and Kaitlyn live in the same body - one is conscious during the day, the other comes out at night. Parry and Coulson’s performance takes this already creepy story and turns it into a spine-tingling nightmare. Don’t listen in the dark!

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin, read by Lance Rubin. Listening Library, 8 hours, 36 minutes. 8 discs. 9780553556018. Denton Little--like most people--has always known the exact day he will die, but now finds his world turned upside-down. Rubin’s thorough knowledge of his own characters and story makes this one enjoyable ride.

*Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, read Mark Bramhall, David De Vries, Macleod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler. Scholastic, 2014. 10 hours, 22 minutes. 9 discs. 9780545788373. Children from different times and places are connected by a mysterious harmonica. The various narrators complement the story with great pacing, and the musical accompaniments are dynamic and integral to the tale.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Listening Library, 2015. 15 hours, 22 minutes. 12 discs. 9781101890752. While spying for the Resistance in the Empire’s stronghold, Laia finds a surprising ally in Elias, a deadly warrior who has secrets of his own. Hardingham and West embody the vulnerability and gritty strength of both characters as they fight to survive.

*Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, read by Kyla Garcia.  Listening Library, 2015. 7 hours, 59 minutes. 7 discs. 9781101917039. Gabi Hernandez poetically chronicles everything from her best friend’s pregnancy to her father’s meth addiction to her own obsession with food. Garcia effortlessly incorporates the Spanish language and highlights the lyrical poetry found throughout the book.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds. Recorded Books, 2015. 19 hours. 16 discs. 9781464042126. Darrow’s mission continues as he seeks to bring down the society which enslaved him and faceless billions. Reynolds combines a broad range of voices and admirable adherence to textual cues to make this complex sequel a harrowing listen.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emilia Fox, Reece Shearsmith, Lenny Henry, and an ensemble cast. Harper Audio, 2014. 8 hours, 24 minutes. 7 discs. 9780062364463. As the “Jacks of all trade” seek his death, Nobody Owens receives protection and power from the residents of a graveyard. Jacobi and a full cast bring new life to The Graveyard Book, combining outstanding, distinct narration with superb production that few audiobooks can match.

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff, read by MacLeod Andrews and Arielle DeLisle. Harper Audio, 2014. 9 hours, 33 minutes; 8 discs. 9781483004518. Amidst an action-filled backdrop of gaming and role-playing, Lesh and Svetlana try to bridge the gap between their two radically different worlds. Andrews energizes the text with his colorful character voices, while DeLisle skillfully communicates Svetlana’s passion and determination.

*Half Wild by Sally Green, read by Carl Prekopp.  Listening Library, 2015. 9 hours, 30 minutes; 8 discs. 9781101891094. Nathan is determined to find his love, Annalise, while struggling with the magical gifts he has received from his reviled father. Prekopp’s intense narration, combined with a plethora of additional sound effects, makes for a compelling listen.

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud, read by Emily Bevan. Listening Library, 2015. 11 hours, 54 minutes. 10 discs. 9781101917398. Lockwood & Co. continue fighting supernatural phenomena plaguing London. Bevan’s spot-on pacing and numerous voices make for a thrilling adventure.

*Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, read by Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Jonathan McClain. Listening Library, 2015. 11 hours, 41 minutes; 10 discs. 9781101916643. Upon surviving the obliteration of their planet, Kady and ex-boyfriend Ezra team up to reveal the truth behind the government’s lies. Amazing sound effects and a full cast of narrators grip listeners with action and heart.

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, read by January LaVoy. Listening Library, 2015. 3 hours 53 minutes, digital. 9780147521828. Accompanied by a colorful, ragtag crew, Princess Leia embarks on a dangerous decoy mission while the Rebels prepare for the Battle of Endor. Authentic music and sound effects work together to create a soundscape that will convert any listener into a diehard Star Wars fan.

*Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, read by January LaVoy. Listening Library, 2015. 20 hours, 13 minutes; 16 discs. 9780449808795. In the sparkling world of 1920’s New York, Evie, Sam, and the other Diviners are drawn into a gathering evil that is creeping into the dreams of unsuspecting sleepers. With haunting melodies and skillful accents from the Louisiana bayou to Chinatown, LaVoy pulls out all the stops for this stunning performance.

*Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, read by Kirby Heyborne. Blackstone Audio, 2015. 14 hours, 54 minutes; digital. 9781504634328. With time running short, Jacob must use his newfound Peculiar powers in order to rescue his friends and beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. Heyborne’s wide range of character voices, seamless incorporation of text cues, and sound effects bring color to this immensely popular book.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, read by James Fouhey. Harper Audio, 2015. 6 hours, 18 minutes, digital. 9780062421715. Mikey’s inner world is falling apart, while life in the town is getting stranger, with deer rising from the dead, and the Indie kids set to blow up the school once again. Fouhey brings out the tension and anguish that carry this book forward to its surprising conclusion.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, read by Michael Crouch. Harper Audio, 2015. 6 hours, 45 minutes; digital download. 9780062411501. When an email to his secret almost-boyfriend is intercepted, Simon is thrust on a heart-breaking, yet hysterical journey of self-discovery. Crouch authentically voices the raw emotions of Simon in all of his neurotic and witty glory.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke, read by Macleod Andrews, Emma Bering, Robbie Daymond, Nora Hunter, Jorjeana Marie, and Julia Whelan. Listening Library, 2015. 13 hours, 13 minutes; 11 discs. 9781101917466. This collection of 14 short stories explores the demented, psychological, and grim tales of the teenage world. A full cast of narrators gives a distinct identity to each of the characters and will make the listener think twice before reading in the dark.  

*Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne. Recorded Books, 2015. 10 hours, 15 minutes; 9 discs. 9781490694320. Newly minted trollhunter Jim Sturges joins a motley group in a desperate battle to defend the human world against a terrifying troll king. Heyborne’s narration of this action-packed tale is enhanced by his astonishing ability to communicate an array of spine-chilling monster noises.

*Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2015. 9 hours; digital.9780316279611. Sophronia Temminick, a student at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, helps fellow student Sidheag return to her werewolf pack in Scotland.  Quick’s lively pacing and diverse, unique voices treat listeners to a laugh-out-loud listen.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker, read by Nicola Barber. Hachette Audio, 2015. 10 hours, digital. 9780062421715. Ferocious witch hunter Elizabeth is aghast when she is accused of being a witch, and is even more shocked when her would-be rescuer turns out to be one of the most powerful wizards in the land. Barber’s multifaceted performance transports listeners to a dangerous world of magic, romance, and betrayal.