Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Listened to an Audiobook: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

I have avoided audio books for 20 years.  I tried one once, listening while I worked around the house.  It drove me nuts.  I half-listened, made mental lists in my head, and the narrator's voice annoyed me after so many hours. Having a commute that was literally 3 short right turns and 5 minutes meant I never was tempted to listen in my car.  It also helped that none of my vehicles had a tape or CD player.  

Now my commute is an hour each way, four days a week.  I have a CD player in my car.  I've got nothing to stare at but miles of road, corn and soybean fields.  So I thought I would give an audio book a try.  I shied away from my beloved historical fiction, and instead tried something that was peculiar, off-beat, and humorous.  

Welcome to Night Vale  by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor is a very popular podcast.  I listened to a few of the podcasts on my commute and enjoyed the completely oddball-ness of it.  Night Vale is a strange town where secret police listen in on everything, creatures roam day and night, and time has a peculiar way of morphing.  There is a forbidden dog park, a woman named Josie who has angels following her around (they are all named Erica), and a radio announcer who makes sure everyone knows just what is going on in Night Vale. You do not have to listen to the podcast to enjoy this book.  As a matter of fact, you don't even have to start with episode one of the podcast to get into the swing of things.  Just jump in and go.  All the podcasts are free, and there are over 70 of them.  Enough to keep you amused for quiet some time.  

The audio book is narrated by Cecil Baldwin, who is the narrator of the podcast (and the radio announcer).  In the novel, Jackie is the owner of the pawnshop in town.  She's 19, and has been 19 for as long as she can remember.  Everything in the pawnshop costs $11, and you die for just a short time when you bring something in to pawn and agree on the price.  One day, a man in a tan jacket, with a deerskin briefcase, comes into the pawnshop.  He gives Jackie a piece of paper that says King City on it and flees, off into the desert.  

Diane works at a boring job, and is a single mom to her son Josh.  Josh is a shapeshifter, and at 15 is restless to know who his father is, and why he's not around.  Diane works with Evan, but notices Evan hasn't been at work for a while.  A mysterious phone call from Evan starts her off on a journey of complete strangeness.  She's the only person at work who remembers Evan even working there.  Is she crazy?  Or is it just the usual in Night Vale?

Jackie and Diane are on the trail of the man in the tan jacket, as well as the blonde man who keeps popping up all over town.  Is the blond man Troy, Josh's father?  Why does he keep avoiding Jackie and Diane?  What the heck is King City, and why can't Jackie get rid of the piece of paper that's permanently stuck to her hand?  How is it all connected?  And what do pink flamingos have to do with any of it?  Oh, and the library is not to be missed.  Hilarious!!

 I did enjoy listening to this audio book.  Having listened to some podcasts, I immediately enjoyed hearing Cecil Baldwin's voice again.  I will admit I had a few "tune out" moments, but I got on track again fairly quickly.  This novel is full of just plain silly stuff.  I chuckled quite a few times.  I envy the writing talent behind this crazy town of Night Vale.  Nothing is off limits, especially in your imagination. Makes you wonder if there is a Night Vale out there somewhere...

I would recommend listening to the audio of this book, because Cecil's voice is what makes this novel come alive.  If you've listened to the podcasts, you know what I'm talking about.  I don't think I would have enjoyed reading the novel as much as I liked listening to it on my commute.  

So...am I sold on audio books?  Sorta.  I think for me, audio books will work if I listen to non-fiction or humorous fiction.  There are just some books that I prefer to hold in my hand and read instead of listen to someone tell me the story.  

Next audio will be Tina Fey.  I hope to incorporate audio books and maybe even some podcasts into my reviews every month.  Driving 400 miles a week will give me plenty of opportunity to listen!

Rating:  7/10 for my first audio book.  I enjoy the world of Night Vale--a perfect blend of paranormal, humor, and downright silliness backed by clever writing and the perfect voice of Cecil Baldwin.  

Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio book. 



  1. Ever since I learned to read (and that was long ago) I have not liked to be read to. My attention just wanders right off. But you have found the perfect solution to your commute and made me realize it is the type of book that makes a difference. Nightvale sounds like the type of quirky story I like.

    1. I think for me it's keeping the fiction light, and listening to non-fiction. I like to listen to podcasts, so this may be where the non-fiction comes into play.

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