Audio Adventures: Pet Peeves

Welcome to my first-ever Audio Adventures post (FINALLY. I only announced this feature 2 1/2 years ago!)! For the past three years, I have found immense pleasure in listening to audiobooks. There's a lot to love about audiobooks. Not only am I increasing the number of books I read each year, I'm also  rereading books I've previously loved, which I don't always have time for, and discovering new takes on those books. Plus, I can read while I do other stuff that can be tedious or boring like cook, clean, shop, etc. I can listen while I work or while I drive. I am multitasking like a BOSS. Buuuuut even good things can have their negatives. The following is a list of all the ways audiobooks can go wrong. To kick Audio Adventures off with a bang, I give you my

Audiobook pet peeves

1. Abridged audiobooks
When I see "abridged" any where near an audiobook, I roll my eyes. Really? REALLY? This book is so long you couldn't do the whole thing? *side eyes abridged audiobooks*  Winter and A Court of Mist and Fury are both almost 24 hours long. Two books in A Song of Ice and Fire are almost 50 hours long. People will listen to audiobooks no matter the length. Stop abridging books, please. It's nonsense. And if simply abridging a title weren't enough, behold, one of my favorite series by one of my favorite authors:

Why is book 5 abridged while the rest of them are not? This is seriously the most absurd thing I've ever seen. Not only am I especially incensed because Haunted is my favorite book in the series, and it's stupid that it's abridged (it's 2 hours compared to maybe 6), but it's the ONLY ONE that has been shortened. THAT IS LITERALLY THE DUMBEST THING EVER.

Yes, I know this is probably because people want audiobooks to be more accessible to readers of all skill level blah blah blah. Abridged classics are one thing, I think. But I have listened to a couple audiobooks of titles I know well enough to notice what's missing, and that has led to a disappointing listening experience.

2. Having different narrators for sequels
I'm not talking about companion series like the Starbound trilogy or Anna/Lola/Isla or most new adult or adult romance series. I'm talking straight-up series with direct sequels featuring the same characters and the same characters' POV. Let's look at The Mortal Instruments. Here's a list of the narrators:
City of Bones: Tinkerbell Mae Whitman
City of Ashes: Natalie Moore
City of Glass: Natalie Moore
City of Fallen Angels: Chuck Bass Ed Westwick & Molly C. Quinn
City of Lost Souls: Molly C. Quinn
City of Heavenly Fire: Logan Echols Jason Dohring & Sansa Stark Sophie Turner

Even the Australian audiobooks only use 3 of the same narrators above and have 3 additional narrators for the other books. That's not all! Check out The Infernal Devices!

Clockwork Angel: Jennifer Ehle
Clockwork Prince: Ed Westwick & Heather Lind
Clockwork Princess: Daniel Sharman

WHAT THE CRAP. I will say Ed has a totally dreamy voice because he uses his natural British accent and *swoons* But that doesn't mean I appreciate having completely different people voice these characters. It's really disconcerting for the listening reader, especially if you binge-listen. Another offender is the Under the Never Sky series.

3. Not having multiple narrators for multiple POVs 
Not every narrator can handle performing multiple characters' narration. Kristine Hvam SLAYS in her performance in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Rebecca Soler does pretty well in The Lunar Chronicles. But I am still angry that Lorelei Avalon was the sole narrator for Elle Kennedy's The Deal and The Mistake. I hated her narration because it was awful, but more than that, I hated that those books are both in dual female/male POV. I recently listened to My Lady Jane, and I thought it was just all right in part because Katherine Kellgren narrates all the chapters despite two of the three POVs being male. I'll get to why I didn't love her as Jane in the next point, but I especially couldn't get into her performance as Edward or Gifford/G.

I am fully aware that this is probably because of money issues. While I know a decent amount regarding traditional publishing, I don't know much regarding the audiobook publishing and production, but I'm sure it's quite pricey. Some authors (like Elle with the Off Campus series) publish their own audiobooks so I'm sure that's even more difficult than an author who publishes through an established audiobook publisher like Listening Library, Tantor Media, etc. But still. Multiple POVs deserve multiple narrators.

Note: Mad props to anyone who listens to feedback. The audiobook for Elle Kennedy's The Score released on Tuesday, and there are two narrators, one for Allie and one for Dean. Thank you, Elle!

4. Narrators who sound too old or young for the character
N O T H I N G is going to make me hate an audiobook more quickly than a narrator whose voice sounds unlike the character, particularly if they don't sound like they are an equitable age. Examples include the narrators of Ella Enchanted and One Night That Changes Everything. Ella is 16 for most of Ella Enchanted, but her narrator sounded about 8. That works for earlier chapters but not for the majority of the book. One Night is actually more mature on the YA scale, IMO, so it definitely was shocking to have a young-sounding narrator voice the story. When I checked her out on Audible, I discovered she primarily does middle grade. Mmm, maybe stick to that. On the other side of things, again, I didn't love Katherine Kellgren in My Lady Jane because she sounds like a middle-aged woman while the POV characters are a sixteen year-old girl and two nineteen (?) year-old guys. This is also the case with Under the Never Sky, which is also guilty of #2 AND #3 on this list. You don't have a woman narrate Perry's POV. That's just wrong.

5. Annoying or excessive sound effects or music
I thought Illuminae was phenomenal because the amount of effects used in the production of the audiobook perfectly fit a sci-fi space opera. This isn't always the case. Off the top of my head, the worst offenders of this pet peeve are the aforementioned Ella Enchanted and Graceling, both of which played musical interludes far too often. Less music, more talky-talky, please.

6. Missing books
Only five of the seven published books in Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series have audiobooks. Jesse's Girl and Defending Taylor don't have them. The previous audios were published by Audible Studios so I honestly don't know if Miranda has been doing them herself, but this just makes me sad. I love her books, and I want all of them to have audios! Jodi Meadows is a favorite author of mine, and only her first book in her first trilogy Incarnate has an audiobook. First of all, boo for dropping Asunder and Infinite, the other books in the trilogy, but also boo for not having audiobooks for The Orphan Queen duology (I'm not booing Jodi here, btw).

See, it's not just about dropped series. I also hate when I can't find an audiobook for an author when they have other audiobooks. I really liked Heather Demetrios's I'll Meet You There, but it doesn't have audiobooks. Only her Dark Caravan series has them. Emery Lord has audiobooks for her first and third books, but not The Start of Me and You, her second. They aren't series books, but I still want more consistency!

7. Inconsistent volume
This is a total first world problem, but if I have to adjust the volume a lot, I'm going to get cranky. I like to listen to audiobooks while I work, and if I'm playing with my phone every five seconds, I'm not going to get work done. I also like to listen while I drive, and I don't want to be overly distracted by having to play with my radio settings too much. I also like to listen while I fall asleep at night (sleep timers are a godsend!), and I'm going to get cranky if I wake up abruptly from that warm, hazy just-before-you-actually-fall-asleep state of mind. Inconsistent volume might be caused by a narrator who is over-performing and wildly changes between shouting and whispering or by the aforementioned music, which somehow is never the same volume as the narration.

Look, I am super glad if a narrator gets into the story and really uses the language tags. Like if they speed up when a character is talking fast or raises their voice somewhat when the character shouts, etc. I appreciate that way more than a monotone narrator. But I don't think you actually have to start yelling and then drop your voice into a whisper. I'll get the point if you adjust your volume subtly, and my eardrums will thank you.

8. Inconsistent speed
Same as above; if I have to continue changing the settings of an audiobook to get a better listening experience, I'm not going to be happy. My example here is Nowhere But Here, in which the female narrator spoke too slowly for me to be happy with 1.0 speed, but the male narrator sounded fine. I had to continually juggle between 1.2 for Emily's sections and 1.0 for Oz's, which was really annoying since they didn't always swap at chapters and because I couldn't always change it right away if I was using my hands or trying to fall asleep.

9. Unavailable on Overdrive
This is more of a work pet peeve. I buy the digital YA books at my library, which means I'm in charge of both ebooks and e-audio. Overdrive is the largest (and best known and most popular) supplier of digital materials for libraries. I get HELLA upset when I want to buy a book and can't find it. Publishers and authors, I'm especially giving you the side eye here. Don't you WANT me to buy your books and then recommend them to my library's patrons? Then make your book widely available!

One of the most important aspects of developing a collection is consistency, and that means once you start buying a series, you see it through to the end. Patrons get super mad if they can't find sequels or prequels in the same format to which they are accustomed, be it hardcover, paperback, large type, audio cd, digital audio, Overdrive ebook, Kindle ebook, etc. Another important aspect of collection development is buying what patrons want. And at my library, what patrons want is The Selection and The Lunar Chronicles and Sarah J. Maas etc etc etc.

Too bad A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury don't have audiobooks on Overdrive for me to purchase, nor do the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows. Sure, I bought them myself on Audible, and I really enjoyed them. But I can't share the audiobooks with my library's patrons because they simply aren't available for me to purchase. It's one thing if they didn't exist, but it's an entirely other beast when they exist but the publisher hasn't made them available to libraries. That's rude and stupid. Dear publishers, STOP THAT.

Edited to add: 
10. Different pronunciations
This is primarily a problem with multiple narrators, particularly in fantasy novels like in Six of Crows and Crooked Kindom or The Remnant Chronicles or the Graceling audio. It's really frustrating when one narrator talks about Jan Van Eck pronouncing it with a J (as in Jan Brady) and someone else pronounces it with a Y (sounds like Yon) or someone else pronounces his last name "Van Ike" instead of Eck liks "blech." It's particularly annoying because Crooked Kingdom has a pronunciation guide at the back so *I* know how to pronounce them. Get it together, ensemble casts. Authors, please give your audiobook publishers and your narrators pronunciation guides!

11. "This is the end of the disc"
I actually hate when an audiobook says "this is the end of disc x" even when I'm listening to an audiobook on CD. I much prefer playing music or even just cutting out. I can tell when it's time to switch. No need to actually say it. But this is ESPECIALLY frustrating when that audio has been adapted from a disc to a digital file BUT THEY KEEP THAT IN. This has happened twice in the past couple months, and it drove me batty.

Do you have any audiobook pet peeves or not agree with mine? Do you have a suggestion for a future Audio Adventures post? Let me know in the comments! 


  1. I love this! We have a lot of similar pet peeves - but the one narrator for several POV and who don't fit the character are my top two. I don't think I'm too picky with it (but I am getting worse). I haven't found any I need to adjust the volume for though.

    You should do a post comparing the books a narrator does. For example, Julia Whelan does both YA and adult, but she can play it off well!

    1. GIVE ME MULTIPLE NARRATORS OR GIVE ME NOTHING, TONYA. I don't think I'm picky either, but I think that's just because my first several audiobooks were so good that I got used to high quality, and now I'm finding that's not always the case.

      LOVE that post idea! I'll definitely have to listen to more because I haven't listened to too many that have the same narrators, but now that I have my favorites, I'm starting to purposefully search them out. Thanks, T! <3

  2. What an extensive and well-thought out list! You've hit on excellent points that I also don't understand--abridged is not acceptable to me and neither are changing narrators.

    1. Thank you! Abridged is actual garbage. Maybe for classics like Faulkner or James Joyce or Dostoyevsky, books like theirs, but modern books are usually much shorter (usually. GRRM and A Song of Ice and Fire notwithstanding) so abridged just doesn't make sense these days!

  3. I've just started to listen to books on audio. I have been so impressed with Neil Gaiman. Wow, his books were so amazing!

    1. I've heard great things about Neil Gaimon's audiobooks, but (black sheep here) I've actually never read one of his books! Shocking, I know. I loved the movie Stardust, but when I tried to read the book, I got bogged down by little details (like the main character in the book is Tristran, and that is a horrible name) so I stopped. Maybe one day!

  4. I love audiobooks too; I have a feature about audiobooks on my blog “Audio Obsession”. You actually named all of my pet peeves. When I see abridged audiobooks, I immediately drop them. Totally agree with you. The only reason they can exist in my opinion is as a way to learn English for foreigners. And I hate when they switch narrators mid-series. I actually was thinking about binge-listening to Under the Never Sky series. I’m not sure about it now. Amazing, very thorough post, Mary!

    1. I will say Under the Never Sky is a favorite series of mine, but I'm not sure if I'm going to listen to the rest of the series. It's a great read though so you should give it a try! I'll definitely check out Audio Obsession!