I Know This Is Not a Popular Opinion

So, I tried to download the audio book of Ready Player One recently, becuase I’d heard great things from people whose opinions are often in line with my own and assumed I would enjoy it. Unfortunately, the library’s audio version didn’t work on my phone, so I read it the old-fashioned way (on my eReader, obvs.), and I loved it. LOVED. IT. You guys should all read this book. Seriously. It’s great.

I raved about it to Tim, who then listened to the audio book (his phone, it turns out, is better than mine). I overherad some of it, and, you guys, I’m sorry, but it was awful. I know, I know. You are all gaping at your screens right now saying “But it’s read by Wil Wheaton!” (I know!) “Who is awesome!” (I agree!) “And what could be better than a geeky book read by him?” Let me tell you what’s better  than a geeky book ready by him — a geeky book NOT read by him. It was sooooo slow. Agonizingly so. When I read the book, I found it to be an exciting, fast-paced adventure story. But then Tim put it on for the drive home from my parents’ house one weekend, I fell asleep, and when I woke up two hours later, I couldn’t believe how little progress we’d made into the book. Nothing had really happened yet. After TWO HOURS.

(Also, W.W.’s voiceing of the main character/narrator was a little too smug and, well, icky for my liking. So much so that it made me kind of dislike the narrator, a character I’d liked quite a bit when I read the book myeslf. But that could be 100% a result of my having already read the book and given the narrator a voice in my mind. and therefore no matter who gave him a voice in real life, if it didn’t sound exactly like it sounded in my mind, it was going to be All Wrong.)

The worst part, though, hands down, was the list reading. See, in the book, there’s a scoreboard, with players’ rankings changing somewhat frequently throughout the plot. When reading the book in print, it was easy to skim the list of players/scores, get the relevant information, and move on. On the audiobook, you have no choice but to listen to W.W. slowly (SO SLOWLY) read every player’s name and score every. single. time. the scoreboard makes an appearance. It’s a LIST, you guys. A list of names and numbers that he had to read outloud, which, okay, I get it, becaues it’s not like you can skim when you’re reading an audio book, but still, he was reading a list. And it was painful.

Tim finally finished reading/listening and agreed that it was a good book. However, he alternated between listening to it while watching the baby over his Christmas break and reading the print version when he wasn’t otherwise occupied, and he told me that without a doubt, the book was MUCH better in print than in audio format. And based on what I heard, I wholeheartedly agree.

(Although ever since he finished, Tim has been on the lookout for The Big Book of Lists read by Wil Wheaton. He’s gotta have more lists!)


3 Responses to “I Know This Is Not a Popular Opinion”

  1. RA on January 4th, 2013

    I totally get you about the slowness and the lists. Both big downsides of listening to audio. Like there’s this part in one of the Ender books when the characters have to decode something, and the reader literally says things like, “M dash dash S dash dash dash R dash dash E.” AHMAHGAH make it stop!

    The reader makes a huge difference. I’ve quit books on that basis alone, even though I knew intellectually that they were well-written. It’s a risk.

    And yet, I do love audio books. They make me feel like time spent driving or doing chore isn’t a total bore.

  2. Operation Pink Herring on January 5th, 2013

    I’m listening to RPO and this makes me feel better, because I’m not loving it as much as I thought I would. But don’t write off audiobooks! The narration can make them or break them (like Gone Girl? WORST NARRATION EVER), but I have gotten through books I would never have managed to read in print. Nonfiction, really long books. I listen while I’m doing dishes and cleaning and I feel so productive. Not only getting things done around the house, but reading books too!

  3. Chris on January 6th, 2013

    I’ve been wanting to read that, so I’m glad to hear the book is good, but I can easily see Wheaton’s voice getting annoying. I think he sounds kind of smug by default, which usually isn’t a huge issue (and worked very well for his character in Eureka), but I don’t think I could take an entire book’s worth of narration.

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