Airborn: Matt Cruse Series Book 1, Kenneth Oppel (David Kelly, Narrator)(HarperCollins, 2005/Audible Audio Edition, 2007).

Cover of "Airborn"

Cover of Airborn

In Brief:

!!!!An audiobook with a narration so awful I can’t judge the book, or even finish, what otherwise seems like a promising novel!!!

For my full review of the book (which I finally got a chance to read)


An alternate, steampunk universe where airships and ornithopters rule the sky!

In Depth:

For the first time, I find that I cannot adequately review this book!  The reason is quite simple!! As with many of the books I review, I intended to listen to this one as an audiobook!!!  Normally, this approach serves me, and the book, quite well, but this time it was different!!!!  The reason!?!  The narrator was read the book as if every sentence was followed by an exclamation point!!!!!  He wasn’t just keen, he wasn’t just superkeen, he was superkeenest!!!!!! I just couldn’t stomach it!!!!!!!!

Those few times I could get by the apparent astonishment of the narrator at every bun or muffin the character in the book served, I found that the text was not half bad.  Or at least, it seemed it might have been okay, if only it was read with some modicum of restraint.  Instead, the ridiculous overacting of David Kelly just turned me off the story completely.  One day, I will pick up an actual text of this book and try it again, but in the meantime, all I can do is recommend that one not bother with the audiobook version of Airborn, nor any audiobook narrated by David Kelly! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

But seriously, I have listened to some books whose narrators did not due justice to the text, but this was the first time I couldn’t work my way past it.  So, I turned to my friend, the extremely talented voice talent, Jojo Jenson, to get her opinion on the topic.  After laughing, she said:

“A great narrator fades into the background and the listener is able to fall head over heels into the story. When a narrator has just received his “Master Thespian” degree from Betty’s School of Acting, this is what can happen.  Reading audio books takes a real skill and tons of talent. I bow to those voice talents who do this with fantastic success.  As a voice talent I considered recording books, but realized that I don’t have the patience it takes to narrate an entire manuscript.”

After listening to David Kelly, I wonder if she might reconsider her choice.  After all, she can make her own excitement!!!!!!!!!!!! With!!!! EVERY!!!! WORD!!!!!!!!!

At least it goes to show me that, when it comes to audiobooks, the quality of the voice talent is just as important as the writing itself.  Something I need to remember should any of my books be turned into an audiobook.

About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
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3 Responses to Airborn: Matt Cruse Series Book 1, Kenneth Oppel (David Kelly, Narrator)(HarperCollins, 2005/Audible Audio Edition, 2007).

  1. Thomas Evans says:

    I have been informed by an old friend that unlike the audiobook, the novel is quite a good read… FYI

  2. Sari says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the audio-book version of Airborn, written by Kenneth Oppel, narrated by David Kelly and the full-cast family.
    Don’t let one opinion sway you.
    It was one of the most enjoyable audio-books that I’ve ever listened to.

    • Thomas Evans says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It goes to show that different people like different things. For me, the switch between a first person narration and the sudden unexplained appearance of send person voices detracted from the tale. If it increased you enjoyment, however, delightful!

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