Written by: Stephen King
Narrated by: Michael Kelly
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
Release Date: 06-04-13
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
OK, usually I don’t start right of describing the narration experience but this time I’m going to make an exception. When I started Joyland, I thought ‘this narrator sounds weird, I don’t think I have heard him before’. Then did a little searching and turns out it’s Michael Kelly’s first audiobook performance. To be honest it didn’t seem like he knew what he was doing, at least in the beginning. The words came out a little forced and stiff. I was considering giving up on the book because I’m very easily distracted from the story if I don’t like the narrator.
Then, a miraculous transformation took place in my ears. Some dialogue follows and Michael Kelly starts to sound actually good. It seems he has quite a talent for portraying different characters in a unique way so you can distinguish them easily without being distracted by a look-I-can-do-so-many-accents kind of performance.
About the story: If you like a typical Stephen King horror or crime novel (I mean this in a good way), you’ll definitely like this one too. The plot revolves around an amusement park in Lubbock, Texas named (you guessed it) Joyland. We’re introduced to the heartbroken college student Devin Jones who takes a job at the amusement park, trying to get his mind of things and his hurt feelings.
However, he finds out that something is not quite right around here and finds himself trying to solve a murder case while a serial killer is on the loose. A quite enjoyable coming of age story mixed with mystery, sorrow and death, all in the midst of a creepy amusement park. Again I can’t stress enough how well Michael Kelly’s slight southern accent fits with everything.
He manages to use accents and slang very appropriately and succeeds in representing character age, gender and origin quite well. I hope this isn’t the last we’re going to hear from Michael Kelly because he has a unique style I’d like him to use on some particular books. I imagine him narrating a John Grisham novel for some reason or something similar that’s going to fit with his nostalgia-inducing voice.
All in all, Stephen King did it again for me with Joyland and the performance from Kelly made it so much better that I expected. If you aren’t quite sure about the narration in the beginning, give it a chance and stick with it. I’m sure you’ll love it eventually.
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