Who knew I could listen so well? Not me–there’s an inner monologue running most of the time and when I’ve tried audio before, I find that I will frequently lose my spot in the book because my brain will start wondering about what to make for dinner, or who I need to call about that thing and there it goes. I’ve gotten a little better with practice, and with careful audio book selection. But those generalizations fly out the window with the magical combination of Ben Aaronvitch’s writing and Koba Holbrook-Smith’s reading. Not only do they hold my attention, but I’ll gladly listen for hours at a time.
Holdbrook-Smith continues to shine as a narrator. His vocal talent brings both Peter and the many people he interacts with to live in a way one doesn’t quite get while reading. First time he voices Leslie using her iPad text-to-speech function was brilliant. However, when he voiced Leslie speaking on the phone, I found it partly unintelligible but still good. When Leslie later spoke in person with Peter, voicing was back to brilliant. I have to say, I loved his voicing of James, the Scottish drummer, although the accent bled into the next character once or twice. Still, dialogue done between the band and Peter was fabulous–I actually could keep all the characters straight. I also continue to love Nightingales’ ‘posh.’ I’m not entirely sure I love his voicing of Simone, but I ultimately decided it was because I didn’t like the character, not his voicing.
There was one recording blip, at the end of Chapter 12, when it suddenly spliced into an earlier section. It persisted despite replaying. However, I consider that a technical issue more than a book issue.
The jazz transitions between chapters are particularly appropriate in this book and I appreciate the solid transition.
Audio May, 2016 with Naomi. Many thanks to her for inspiring me to get moving on the audio of this series!
Whispers Under Ground thoughts:
Thoughts for the audio version narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith:
Brilliant. There’s nothing more I can say. I wanted to sit and binge-listen, but was afraid my muscles would atrophy during the hours it would take to listen at normal speed. In the third book, Leslie’s voice is more intelligible, presumably the result of her surgeries. Voicing of Zach the half-fae had me laughing, and now I’m pretty sure I could do a Scottish brogue if I tried.. The voicing of the American, Reynolds, seemed a bit off to me, not sure if that was a character issue or a voicing issue. Peter’s internal asides were nicely voiced, giving me better appreciation perhaps even than reading. There’s something about the writing that seems lacking in punctuation that would help determine the pauses and asides, and Holdbrook-Smith’s reading brings out the inflection the words need.
I will note one thing about listening to the series as an American. There’s a fair amount of British slang and, coupled with unfamiliar localities and magical terms, means I occasionally lose a word or two. Reading during the audio helped clear a couple of items up, including when Zach called the team “the bloody Issacs.”
It was almost as if Aaronvitch wrote with Holdbrook-Smith’s reading in mind. Such an excellent fusion of talents. I had to make myself stop and catch up on some of my other reading, because I was ready to continue full-speed (and because I thought my acquired accent was sounding a little strange).
Rating: all the stars