Good thing I can’t throw audiobooks

I commute to work, so audiobooks are my fairly new very best friend forever. My life beforewas a wasteland of unfunny radio hosts, mean-spirited on-air pranks, and the same Justin Bieber song playing on three stations at the same time. (I listened to it, of course.) Now I burn through audiobooks so quickly that my library is exhausted and I’ve subscribed to Audible.

Throughout this, one thing drives me mad: Why do pronunciations change from one book to the next? Nothing could be more annoying than the narrator deciding the way she pronounced something for 16 hours and 7 minutes in the first book was wrong. Don’t they ask the author how it should be said?

For example: in Sarah J. Maas’s  A Court of Thorns and Roses, a Naga is sort of demon, pronounced “nah-guh”. But in the second book, it’s “na-GAH!” with a different second ‘a’ sound and lot more emphasis. They’re minor characters and it makes them stand out to ridiculous distraction. Another minor demon-type character, the Bogge, is the “bog” in book one (like the soft, muddy ground) and then the “BOG-ee” in book two. It just became a dance move from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and I laughed out loud.

Those are small changes, rarely said. But there’s one huge pronunciation change: how narrator Jennifer Ikeda says the name of the main male character: Rhysand. In book one, he’s “Reesund,” almost like “recent,” but it ends with a ‘d.’ In book two, he’s suddenly and very annoyingly, “Rhee-SAAAND.” Like you’d re-sand a deck you didn’t sand properly in the first place. With sandpaper.

I would guess that recording an audiobook is like filming a soap opera: time and budgets are tight. You’re not getting a lot of (if any) second takes. So decide before you start how things are said, and keep them that way. Maybe ask the author before you record 16+ hours of dialogue. I can only assume Sarah J. Maas meant his name to be “Ree-SAAAND” the whole time, and didn’t hear the first audiobook till it was too late. Leaving it wrong would make me crazy… but it’s worth doing. If only the author knows how it’s pronounced, then the author should either 1) be asked first or 2) live with their secret.

A second, related qualm with audiobooks arises: Why do some series change narrators from one book to the next? For example: The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, which suddenly has Ed Westwick narrating only the second book (and pronouncing “Jessamin” as “Jessameeeen”). Don’t just sign voice talent to sequel contracts, sign them for a whole series! Otherwise we all end up in that Pirates of the Caribbean movie that couldn’t afford Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley because it had already made them too famous. Which is not what happened after Gossip Girl. Sorry, Ed.

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