Audiobook Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

I am reading several books for the Magnolia Book Awards. When I saw that Doll Bones was on the list, I volunteered to read it for my library as it’s been on my TBR for a while. I checked out the audiobook to listen to, and I am glad I did.Doll Bones

Author: Holly Black

Narrators: Nick Podehl

Audiobook length: 5 hours and 15 minutes

Genre: Middle grade, fantasy, adventure

Publisher: Listening Library (audiobook), Margaret K. McElderry Books (physical book)

When I’ve reviewed audiobooks in the past, I’ve kind of just done a general review, mixing both the story and the review of the narration into one review. I think I want to start breaking them down into Story and Audiobook as a way to better clarify my reviews and make them easier to read. How’s that sound to you guys?

STORY

Zach, Poppy, and Alice are best friends who’ve been playing a continuous game of adventure – with mermaids, pirates, and thieves – for a long time. Ruling over their land of make-believe is the Great Queen, a special, bone-china doll locked up in a cabinet and trapped there. When Zach’s there-again father pushed Zach to give up make-believe, Zach quits the game. But Poppy begins having dreams of a ghost girl who won’t rest until the Great Queen is laid to rest, the threesome must go off on an adventure to bury her. Is there really a ghost? Will she curse them if their quest isn’t completed? Bum. Bum. Bum.

This is a perfect coming-of-age story full of fun, adventure, spookiness, and a sense of is-this-real-or-not? Holly Black wonderfully captures that age just before adolescence that us adults tend to forget. Growing up tends to mean putting away our toys and entering a new and scary world of adulthood, and Holly Black is able to weave a story that brings you back to that age of first crushes, awkwardness, and confusion.

There’s also a ghost story here. I think it was just creepy enough, but not too creepy to scare young children into nightmares. The best part is that Black leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not the story is real.

NARRATION

I’d heard Nick Podehl’s narration once before in the audiobook for Wonder. I enjoyed him then, but I really liked him in Doll Bones. He was able to use his obvious talent for creating voices and narrated the entire book himself. He perfectly captures the voices of Poppy, a somewhat sassy, confident young girl, Zach, a sad, strong, intelligent young boy, and Alice, a shy, reserved girl, as well as the variety of other cast members – including a creepy old man on a bus and a firm but kind librarian. Nick Podehl is very, very good, and I will look up some of his other narrated books to try.

OVERALL, I quite liked the audiobook for Doll Bones, and I will definitely be checking out some of Holly Black’s other books to read. Recommended for those who have middle-school aged children or for those who just enjoy a good ghost story.

Audiobook Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

After reading/listening to The Dead Fathers Club, which ruined all audiobooks for me, Wonder was the second one I could get through. It was a rough start, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Wonder

Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Reader: Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, and Diana Steele

The Wonder audiobook is narrated by three different people. The person who narrated the main character, Auggie Pullman, is a woman, and it is pretty obvious that she is not a young boy but rather a woman attempting to sound like a young boy. At first, I found it really difficult to get used to her voice because she purposely has a slight lisp and a scratchy voice. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to force myself to listen to the entire thing for eight hours, but I was drawn in by the story and I couldn’t stop listening. Eventually, I got used to her voice – I think it probably helped that it changed between the narrators and points of view about every disc and a half so I didn’t get too irritated. By the end of the audiobook, however, I found myself actually enjoying her voice; not sure how that happened.

While there are only three narrators, we get a total of six different perspectives throughout the book, and each of their voices was unique to me. Occasionally you could tell that it was the same narrator, but for the most part, their voices were different but not in such a way that it was weird. In between The Dead Fathers Club and Wonder, I tried several different audiobooks but couldn’t get more than one drive to work through them. Several of them had readers that tried too hard to make the voices distinct – a super rough, scratchy voice for an old man, etc.

As for the book, I liked the story a lot. You might have seen my Quote Quoted post where I talked about one of the parts that really hit home for me. I could relate to a lot of this book, and I think the lesson being taught in the book is something that everyone should read. My only issue with this book was the ending. To me, the ending of this book was too perfect. For a novel about a young boy’s struggles with bullying that felt authentic and real, the ending felt wrong. Real life isn’t like that. It isn’t tied up with a cute little bow. Everyone doesn’t just suddenly realize that just because you look different on the outside, you’re super cool and interesting on the inside. It’d be nice if that happened, but it doesn’t. I really loved how Palacio handled everything in the book when it came to how mean people can be, the horrible things they’ll do or say, and how it feels to be the one on the receiving end of all of this crap, but the end disappointed me. Other than that, great book and great audiobook. Definitely recommended.