Today I started up an older Nora Roberts audiobook, Private Scandals. I consider myself a NR fan – I’ve liked her books from 3 to 5 stars, and I’ve read and listened to a ton of them (maybe 10% of her backlist – LOL! She’s a most prolific author!) This one was waiting in my TBL for a while, and I thought it might be a nice change from a run of historicals I’d been listening to.
I got literally 10 minutes into it – my commute to work – and thought, as I exited my vehicle, “Nope. Not gonna go there. Stopping now. Life’s too short to spend another minute on a mediocre narrator.”
It brings up several questions for me – should one write a review or even a blog post about a book one does not finish? How long should I have given the book before declaring it unworthy of my time? Why didn’t I like it enough to keep listening?
Although I know not everyone agrees with me, I personally think it’s ok to write a blog post about a DNF and even call it a review as long as I disclose (1) that I didn’t finish the book and (2) why I didn’t finish the book. As to how long should I give it, I did only give this one 10 minutes, and maybe that wasn’t enough time. Maybe I didn’t allow myself to get into the rhythm of this narrator – I decided I needed to see what other people thought.
I surfed over to Speaking of Audiobooks to find out what Carrie thought of it, and as I read her thoughtful review, I realized, yeah, that’s it – the sing-songy cadence and the inappropriate reading “inconsistent with the mood of the text” is how she put it. Talk about inconsistent! In that 10 minute selection, most of which was prologue, the narrator described the aftermath of a horrible murder scene as though she was a cheerleader reading from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Her description of the violence was as upbeat and cheerful and yeah, sing-songy as her description of the heroine putting on lipstick. And that is why I could not face almost 16 hours with this narrator.
When there are so many, many talented voice actors out there, I wonder why audiobook companies don’t vet their talent better. I hark back to a comment made on a review of a Linda Howard’s Veil of Night: A Novel, narrated by Clarinda Ross, “Was Joyce Bean busy?” For a blockbuster author like LH, why is she given an unknown narrator when she’s had the best, including Joyce Bean, Natalie Ross, Dick Hill, Susan Ericksen, and Phil Gigante? This book is by Nora Roberts, one of romance’s top authors – don’t her books deserve the best narrators out there?
Perhaps in the pre-MP3-player days, way back when audiobooks were more about reading for the vision impaired and less about another way for everyone to enjoy books, maybe then it was normal to have anyone who could read out loud narrate a book. Now that audiobooks have become mainstream, there is no excuse for recording a book with just any warm body with a voice! Lea focused on this very topic at Speaking of Audiobooks: Untrained Narrators? I’m Not Interested. This sets the stage for more discussion here at AudioGals – getting better books, read by better narrators!
I’m happy to say, I haven’t broken my New Year Resolution – I have officially DNFed Private Scandals. YMMV – this isn’t a review, just a rant.
Editor’s Note: It’s come to our attention that Private Scandals is not a new release but a rerelease of a 1993 audio (from pre-MP3 player days). However, the same thoughts apply.