My Favorite Audiobooks of 2016

10 01 2017

2016 was a crazy year of alternate reality politics, celebrity deaths, ecological uncertainties and scientific and technological breakthroughs. So, not at all shockingly, some of the best books of the year are full of political satire, weird physics and genre bending timey whimey fun. I had another down year of listening/reading and did a horrible job tracking and rating my books but overall I feel like I have a nice list of books I enjoyed. So, here, in very deliberate order are my favorite listens of the year. Do with it as you see fit.

 

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

Read by January LaVoy

Random House Audio

Alternate dimensions, time travel, online dating blended together in the best story of the year. Palmer manages a story that should have been mind numbingly confusing but tells it in simple language built around strong characters. The narration turned me into a January LaVoy fanboy.

 

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Read by: A Full Cast

Andy Secombe
Eric Meyers
Laurel Lefkow
Charlie Anson
Liza Ross
William Hope
Christoper Ragland
Katharine Mangold
Adna Sablyich

Random House Audio

Sleeping Giants is the kind of science fiction that reminds you why you love science fiction. Each step in the story took you in new unexpected directions. The audio production was brilliant and perfect for the story.

 

The Hike by Drew Magary

Read by Christopher Lane

Brilliance Audio

The Hike is the most fun I had listening to a book this year. It’s The Pilgrims Progress on and acid trip, chock full of everything I didn’t know I wanted in a book. Magary takes the Portal fantasy places that they probably should never go, but I’m glad they did. Lane gives a strong performance, and bit affected at times, but when your giving life to a talking crab, a little affectation is forgivable.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

Read by Joe Jameson

Hachette Audio

It seems the social media age and horror may be a perfect fit. Arnopp’s Jack Sparks, a narcisistic, atheist reporter who seeks out the supernatural, is not just an unreliable narrator, but an asshat that is blatanly lying to you. I absolutely loved every minute of this book, and the narrator, Joe Jamesom, hits all the right marks.

Faller by Will McIntosh

Read by George Guidall

Recorded Books

McIntosh is probably my current favorite Science Fiction author, and he had two great books out this year, the YA novel Burning Midnight and Faller. In Faller, McIntosh manages to break the world, while breaking my mind. The two interlocking storylines come together perfectly, and his often nameless characters become more real than many of the people I know in my real life. This book could have topped my list if it wasn’t for the poor audio production and a narrator that just wasn’t the right fit for the book.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

With all the talk about Fake News, Noah Hawley’s novel plays with perspective and it’s influence on truth in this novel about a mysterious plain crash and the notoriety that the survivor achieves. It’s both an intricate character story and a look at the modern conspiracy culture. Petkoff gives a subdued impassioned performance, allowing you to feel the main character’s slow breakdown.

IQ by Joe Ide

Read by Sullivan Jones

Hachette Audio

The start of a promising new series, IQ features Isaiah Quintabe, a brilliant young detective that serves as a urban equalizer, helping those who would never usually reach out for help. Ide fills this tale with characters as quirky as from a Hiaasen novel, yet much more believable. Sullivan Jones gives one of the top performances of the year, especially in giving voice to the mentally unstable rapper/client. This is one of the few times where both an author and narrator manager to bring a musical portion to life with credibility.

 

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Read by Jonathon McClaine

Random House Audio

While I am typically not a big fan of Historical Fiction, I have always been fascinated by the War of Currents and Tesla’s influence on it. Moore brings this time period to life through his characters giving us more than just a retelling of a murky historic period but tale as crisp as any fictional tale. McClain’s narration captures the personas perfectly, and his pacing keeps the listener holding their breath waiting for the next twist.

The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd

Read by Matt Addis

Luke Smitherd

The Stone Man is called a sci-fi horror novel, but it really is more than that. Smitherd takes a ridiculous situation scenario, a main character that is comically flawed and gives you a novel that fascinates, appalls and makes you laugh. This is my surprise pick of the year, a little throw away novel that stuck with me for a long time after its final moments. Narrator Matt Addis milks the tale for all it’s worth, making you believe each ridiculous twist.

End of Watch by Stephen King (Bill Hodges Trilogy, Bk. 3)

Read by Will Patton

Simon & Schuster Audio

As much as I hated Mr. Mercedes, the first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, I loved End of Watch. While Mr. Mercedes felt like King attempting to be something he’s not, End of Watch is King at his Kingiest. It’s a great end of the trilogy, and maybe his most truly disturbing villain in a long time. Will Patton is brilliant and probably the only reason I listened to this entire trilogy after my disappointment with the first novel.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Read by Alyssa Bresnahan

Recorded Books

I went into All the Birds in the Sky as a cumedgeonly skeptic expecting to hate the book but was quickly won over by Andrew’s fluid prose and two characters you can’t help but love just a bit. As dark as it is sweet, this novel reminded me that there may still be magic left in this world. Alyssa Bresnahan reads the tale with a poets soul, making Andrew’s words sing while allowing us the feel the characters.

 

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Read by a full cast including Suzanne Ellis Freeman, Lincoln Hoppe, Ryan Gessell, Mike Chamberlain, Adriedne Meyers, Jonathon McClain

Penguin Audio

J. Patrick Black’s Ninth City Burning was full of all those modern science fiction, young adult series tropes that I can’t stand, yet for some reason, I had so much fun listening to this that I was able to put those aside and just enjoy. The multiple narrators were excellent, building the story off each other, and driving the pace forward to the crazy, over the top finale.

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3 responses

7 01 2017
nrlymrtl

Both Sleeping Giants and The Stone Man are in my TBR pile – Now I plan to bump them up in the list.

8 01 2017
Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)

I enjoyed Before The Fall as well. I have IQ on audio and look forward to listening. Happy New Year.

12 01 2017
SB

Thank you for posting your 2016 list! I have truly missed reading your blog this year and was thrilled to get the email from WordPress that you’d posted. Your excellent reviews have turned me on to a few of my favorite reads/listens. TV shows, books, whatever, you’ve got interested readers, so thanks for sharing your time and reviews!

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