What's Up in YA

🎧 5 YA Audio Books Narrated By Celebrities

Hey YA Readers! Let’s talk audiobooks.

“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Caracal, the middle grade imprint of Lion Forge.

When the Hamster Aquatic Mercenaries (H.A.M.) are hired to save their badger allies from flooding, the colony’s most ambitious young hamster pups compete for their chance to join the team and earn glory and prestige. Those who succeed, however, soon discover that life outside their burrow is not the grand adventure they imagined, but instead find a world of deadly threats and conflicting stories about their species’ origins. The Underfoot Vol. 1: The Mighty Deep by Emily S. Whitten, Ben Fisher, and Michelle Nguyen is in stores now from the Caracal imprint of Lion Forge!

There’s something fun about listening to an audiobook performed by someone whose voice is already familiar to you because you’ve seen them on your favorite television show or movie. Certainly, many who listen to audiobooks have favorite non-celebrity performers, but celebrity voices are often a nice entry point for those who are new to audiobooks and don’t know where to begin. Celebrity audiobooks are, of course, also great for long-time listeners who just want to mix up the reading experience.

Find below five awesome YA audiobooks performed by celebrities. By no means is this a comprehensive roundup — I’ll save that for another day — but this is a means of dipping one’s toes into the world of celebrity YA audiobooks.

Since I haven’t listened to any of these and haven’t read all of them (I have read some, of course!), I’m relying on the Amazon descriptions so as not to give too much or too little away.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Audiobook performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Yep! Before Hamilton helped Miranda’s career explode, he performed the audiobook of the award-winning Aristotle and Dante.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, performed by Tatiana Maslany

This special edition audiobook hit shelves in honor of the 10th anniversary of the book in October 2018. If you’ve already read and listened to this book before, maybe give this a re-read with award-winning Maslany as the narrator.

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 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.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, performed by Shannon Purser

You might best know her as Barb from Stranger Things. Whatever happened to Barb, you ask? She’s performing great YA audiobooks. I suspect given how great Leah’s voice is in this book that this audiobook is outstanding.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat – but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends – not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting – especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Sabriel by Garth Nix, performed by Tim Curry

This entire series is performed by Curry, who is likely best known for The Rocky Horror Picture Show and/or Clue and/or the original TV miniseries It where he portrayed Pennywise.

Ever since she was a tiny child, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world.

Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful and perhaps malevolent spirit; and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.

With threats on all sides and only each other to trust, the three must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death, and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

A tale of dark secrets, deep love and dangerous magic, Sabriel introduces Garth Nix as an exceptional new talent.

White Cat by Holly Black, performed by Jesse Eisenberg

All three books in the trilogy are performed by Eisenberg, who was in Adventureland and Zombieland, as well as in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’e all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

Did you know today launches the annual Audiobook Sync program, too? If you love audiobooks and YA books, you’ll want to make sure you grab your two free audiobooks each week from the program. Check it out! 

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll catch up with all the latest in YA news on Monday.

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Instagram and editor of (Don’t) Call Me Crazy and Here We Are.