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Audible Essentials: Teen Edition

Books You Have to Hear, No Matter Your Age

In picking our Teen Essentials, Audible’s editors asked ourselves what makes a teen book. Is it a young protagonist? Or teen-related issues? We agreed books should have both – and focus on one’s inward journey. These books represent some of our best-loved (and most nostalgic) classics of all-time, as well as recent dystopian and fantasy favorites.

 
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  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Dennis Olsen
    Overall
    (237)
    Performance
    (221)
    Story
    (225)

    It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings.

    HDJ says: "Ignore the teen classification!"
    Why we think it's Essential: Many listeners have called The Book Thief their favorite book ever, and Markus Zusak's mega-best seller also goes down in the genre as one of the most memorable Holocaust novels. Dennis Olsen gives voice to Death, the book's narrator, in one heartbreaking tale that is sure to stay with you long after the story's over. (Diana)
  • The Hunger Games

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46554)
    Performance
    (36270)
    Story
    (36703)

    Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "I liked it"
    Why we think it's Essential: Suzanne Collins’ novel of an American dystopia in The Hunger Games may soon be considered a new classic, not only for its meteoric rise in popularity but as a reflection of the current zeitgeist: the blend of violence and conspiracy with media coverage and celebrity doesn’t require a huge stretch of the imagination. Narrator Carolyn McCormick paints a horrific picture of a not-impossible future, navigated by peasant-turned-warrior Katniss Everdeen, an everywoman with enough smarts, bravery, and teen angst to win over any listener, no matter their age. (Chris)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Sherman Alexie
    • Narrated By Sherman Alexie
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Junior, a budding cartoonist, grows up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, he leaves his troubled school to attend an all-white high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

    Why we think it's Essential: Sherman Alexie creates the absolutely true mind of Arnold Spirit as he tries to survive in an all-white school as a hydrocephalic (i.e. water on the brain) and an outcast of his Indian reservation. Banned from some schools, this part-autobiographical novel comically captures the tension between the Native American and white worlds. (Nicole)
  • Twilight: The Twilight Saga, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Stephenie Meyer
    • Narrated By Ilyana Kadushin
    Overall
    (187)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (112)

    When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

    karen says: "One of my favouriates"
    Why we think it's Essential: Romeo and Juliet. Darcy and Elizabeth. Edward and Bella? Twilight as an essential is sure to elicit a few groans, but no one can argue that it wasn’t influential in spawning a new generation of vampire novels, a hugely successful film franchise, and even Fifty Shades of Grey - one of the fastest-selling books of all-time. At its core, it’s the story of the transforming power of first love and the sacrifices one will make in order to preserve it. Ilyana Kadushin perfectly captures the voices of Bella Swan, a human teenager who is wise beyond her years, and Edward Cullen, her brooding vampire boyfriend, as they struggle to reconcile what they know is right with what they want the most. (Kelly)
  • Ender's Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Orson Scott Card
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31946)
    Performance
    (22685)
    Story
    (22895)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s easy to say that when it comes to sci-fi you either love it or you hate it. But with Ender’s Game, it seems to be you either love it or you love it.... The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "The Best Science Fiction Book Of All Time"
    Why we think it's Essential: Though we meet the eponymous Ender when he is only six years old, the super-genius deals with concepts meant for an older audience: responsibility, war, control, and genocide. The textured, multi-cast narration provides lessons about the truly universal concepts of self-reliance, brains-over-brawn, and leadership in the face of adversity. There’s a reason Card’s work finds its way onto school curricula. (Chris)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mark Haddon
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    Overall
    (8869)
    Performance
    (6134)
    Story
    (6149)

    Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone has Asperger's Syndrome, a condition similar to autism. He doesn't like to be touched or meet new people, he cannot make small talk, and he hates the colors brown and yellow. He is a math whiz with a very logical brain who loves solving puzzles that have definite answers.

    Amanda says: "An Unexpected Gift."
    Why we think it's Essential: This is my favorite book of all-time. Before I listened to this book, I read it several times, but listening is a different experience. Jeff Woodman gives you a new look into the mind of Christopher Boone, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. It's like experiencing a tidal wave of emotions, ranging from humor to revelation. (Nicole)
  • Howl's Moving Castle

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Diana Wynne Jones
    • Narrated By Jenny Sterlin
    Overall
    (3512)
    Performance
    (3066)
    Story
    (3089)

    A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and ALA Notable and Best of the Year in Young Adult Fiction, Howl's Moving Castle is by acclaimed fantasy writer Diane Wynne Jones amd was transformed into an Academy Award nominated animated motion picture by Hayao Miyazaki. On a rare venture out from her step-mother's hat shop, Sophie attracts the attention of a witch, who casts a terrible spell transforming the young girl into an old crone.

    Candace says: "Better than the movie... and that's saying a lot."
    Why we think it's Essential: Neil Gaiman calls Diana Wynne Jones "the best writer of magical children's fiction of our generation". Add to that Jenny Sterlin's unique voices for each character, and you've got one of listeners' favorite fantasies for teens (and adults!). (Diana)
  • Great Expectations

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (508)
    Performance
    (349)
    Story
    (342)

    As Pip unravels the truth behind his own "great expectations" in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him toward maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.

    Ed says: "This Dickens guy has promise"
    Why we think it's Essential: Charles Dickens is awesome; let’s just put that out there. He delivers adventure on the streets of Victorian London, triumph over rag-ridden poverty, heroism in the bottom of a broken teacup. But there’s something really special about Great Expectations that sets it apart from the rest of his canon. It’s not just about struggle, strife, and the wildness of children in an even wilder world. It’s about growing up and following one’s hopes and dreams, as well as coming to terms with one’s own limitations. There’s nothing more universal or important that teenagers and adults alike can relate to. And one can argue, as we editors often do, that Simon Vance is THE definitive Dickensian narrator. With this ..
  • The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Philip Pullman
    • Narrated By Philip Pullman, full cast
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5133)
    Performance
    (2951)
    Story
    (2977)

    Lyra and Will, the two ordinary children whose extraordinary adventures begin in The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone.

    Anita says: "an exceptional story that's had bad press"
    Why we think it's Essential: A street-smart girl. Her pet daemon. A golden compass that reads truth itself. Oh, and a full cast dramatic reading that includes author Philip Pullman. The book is fantastic, and the full cast audiobook is that much better. This is the first book of a trilogy that is as exciting as The Lord of the Rings and will prove as timeless as The Chronicles of Narnia. (Chris)
  • Inkheart

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Cornelia Funke
    • Narrated By Lynn Redgrave
    Overall
    (2677)
    Performance
    (1443)
    Story
    (1442)

    Imagine it were possible to bring the characters from a book to life. Not like when you listen to an audiobook with such enchantment that the characters seem to jump off the pages and into your bedroom...but for real. Imagine they could actually climb out of the pages and into our world. Then imagine if those characters brought their world into ours.

    Cynthia Lee Reneau says: "EXCELLENT!!"
    Why we think it's Essential: Inkheart is a magical book about the power of stories, so it's especially appropriate to hear it read by a magical storyteller: Lynn Redgrave. She has a way of wrapping her voice around words that is just riveting. Almost too riveting - if you listen while driving, be sure not to lose yourself in the performance and forget about the road. (Steve)
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Anne Frank
    • Narrated By Selma Blair
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2042)
    Performance
    (1785)
    Story
    (1774)

    More than 50 years after its first publication, Doubleday's definitive edition of Anne Frank's famous diary generated an extraordinary amount of excitement when it was published in early 1995. Enthusiastically received by critics and readers alike, it reigned for nine weeks on The New York Times best seller list and will remain for all time the version that millions of readers will cherish.

    Cynthianna says: "First review I've written - Had to write it"
    Why we think it's Essential: I remember first reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in middle school and trying to imagine what Anne's life in Nazi-ruled Amsterdam must have been like. Hers is a universally-gripping story, and especially poignant when narrated by Selma Blair, who captures her 13 to 15-year-old innocence and insight beautifully. (Diana)
  • Divergent

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29763)
    Performance
    (26578)
    Story
    (26770)

    In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

    Grant says: "It's not for me. Loved it anyway."
    Why we think it's Essential: Take The Hunger Games, remove all self-doubt from the protagonist, and you’ve got Divergent’s Tris. We learn early on that she is smart, brave, and altruistic, and as another teen living under oppressive, dystopian rule, these traits serve her well. Narrator Emma Galvin keeps the pace up and the characters real throughout Tris’ journey. While the stakes are much higher, we can all relate to her obstacles: fitting in at school, engaging in mature relationships, and dealing with the inner turmoil common in teens everywhere. (Chris)
  • Speak

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Narrated By Mandy Siegfried
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (914)
    Performance
    (727)
    Story
    (734)

    From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, a major infraction in high-school society, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute.

    FanB14 says: "Recommend with Slight Reservations"
    Why we think it's Essential: No one captures teen life quite like Laurie Halse Anderson, who tells the story of one high school girl gone mute after becoming a social outcast. Narrator Mandy Siegfried becomes protagonist Melinda, as she gives voice to the thoughts and emotions swirling around Melinda's head. That is, until, a secret from the past forces her to break the silence. (Nicole)
  • The Graveyard Book

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10877)
    Performance
    (7316)
    Story
    (7330)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Gaiman’s not just an award-winning author, but a narrator who earns rave reviews – and fields requests from other authors to perform their books, too! Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead....

    Guillermo says: "Masterful Fantasy for the Jaded Heart"
    Why we think it's Essential: Few authors can narrate as well as they write, but Neil Gaiman excels at both in his Hugo Award-winning tale. With a naturalistic and genuine reading, he brings the graveyard's spooky and magical world to life. (Diana)
  • Before I Fall

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Lauren Oliver
    • Narrated By Sarah Drew
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2636)
    Performance
    (2311)
    Story
    (2305)

    Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact.

    Penny says: "Beautiful."
    Why we think it's Essential: Lauren Oliver has been gaining a serious following with her Delirium trilogy, but before she went the dystopian way, she delivered what we believe is going to be a classic of YA fiction. Oliver’s smart and empathetic voice – so on target that you can hardly believe she’s not a teen herself – meets its match for perfection in narrator Sarah Drew. Drew captures the paradoxical duality of the teenage girl psyche: She gives us total naiveté, paired with an utter savviness of social politics. She knows how deliver subtle, cutting contempt - lending her voice the side-eyed, judgmental quality that hits you when you walk into a cafeteria full of teenagers, while also pulling off hopefulness, longing, and dreamy-eyed ..
  • Hero

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Perry Moore
    • Narrated By Michael Urie
    Overall
    (1798)
    Performance
    (1492)
    Story
    (1502)

    In the story comic book legend Stan Lee calls "spellbinding" and "totally original," Thom Creed has secrets. For one, like his father, he has super powers. Also, he's been asked to join the League—the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. Then there’s the secret Thom can barely face himself: he's gay. But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, Typhoid Larry, and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide....

    Kyle says: "A book to have for the rest of your live."
    Why we think it's Essential: Thom Creed is not your usual superhero. And Michael Urie is not just your average book narrator. Together the pair create a fresh new spin on an Incredibles-type tale when Thom must come out to his superhero parents about being gay. (Diana)
  • Star Girl

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jerry Spinelli
    • Narrated By John Ritter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (535)
    Performance
    (406)
    Story
    (406)

    From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of "Stargirl, Stargirl." She captures Leo Borlock's heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Then they turn on her.

    Andre says: "Awesome - My First Audio Book"
    Why we think it's Essential: Stargirl, the new girl in school, is no ordinary teenager. She sings for strangers' birthdays, dances in the rain, and stands out from any crowd. She also sends the timeless message about the importance of being you. John Ritter (Three's Company) brings Spinelli's story full circle with a knowing humor of high school heartbreak and clique drama. (Nicole)
  • Leviathan

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Scott Westerfeld
    • Narrated By Alan Cumming
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2089)
    Performance
    (1750)
    Story
    (1756)

    It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is a living airship, the most formidable airbeast in the skies of Europe.

    Tracy says: "Positively Addictive."
    Why we think it's Essential: It was a toss-up between Westerfield's Uglies and Leviathan series, but in the end this steampunk setting and Cumming's narration won out. Get ready for the skies of Europe, on the cusp of World War I, in one of YA's most entertaining adventure series. (Diana)
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