Joss the Seven by J. Philip Horne is already on my list of Favorite Fantasy books, but I confess I was reticent to review the audio book specifically. Why? Because … usually, I don’t love audio books. Why again? Because … when I read stuff in my head, I do voices. [If you know the clip from Mrs. Doubtfire, review that mentally right now.] So, I am often disappointed when narrators for audio books wimp out on the voices and / or read with virtually no inflections or emotions. Even if I LOVE a book, I can hate a narration. In fact, the more I like a book, the more I’m likely to find fault with the audio version. I’m mega picky. Brutal.
Which makes it all the more significant that I can say,
OH MY GOSH, THIS IS A BRILLIANT NARRATION OF A FANTABULOUS BOOK!!!
Let’s back up. The story. It’s about a middle school boy named Joss who has heretofore been a prankster extraordinaire, but otherwise, a pretty typical kid living in suburbia. When a bizarre secret message shows up in his locker on the last day of school, a chain of events leads him to discover that he has some very remarkable talents. No spoilers here, but figure we’re talking stuff that would make you either a really great superhero, or a significantly formidable supervillain. Joss gets thrown into a very confusing world of betrayal, crime, action, and the mysterious Guild of Sevens. This book has layers of intrigue, and I really look forward to seeing how the series progresses.
It’s narrated in first person, and has an authentic flavor of tween bravado, insecurity, humor, and hope. Horne makes this kid very believable and very likable. I laughed out loud often–and gasped out loud, too. Great action and plenty of surprising twists and turns to the plot. It’s a terrific read for anyone with a sense of adventure, aged 10 and up.
The audio book is read by Kevin Coffin, who, as I understand it, the author specifically solicited to interview. Yeah, I’ll go after him, too. He’s fantastic. Where to start? What’s the best part? The timing, the emotions, the voices, the ability to depict intensity without getting sloppy or loud. He’s perfect! Like … Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Rickman as Harry Potter and Professor Snape perfect. Like … exactly what my reading brain had imagined. Unlike most audio books, which serve as insomnia-crushers for me, this one keeps me riveted like kids to the radio adventure shows back in the 30’s and 40’s. I’ll be playing it for the whole family on our first road trip this summer! I can’t wait!