A Prayer For Owen Meany,” by John Irvin. The Audio Book Review

August 31, 2009

“A Prayer For Owen Meany,” is one of John Irving’s classic bestsellers and a personal favorite of mine. First published in 1989, I picked up a copy in the mid 90’s on the recommendation of a good friend. This is first and foremost a review of the Audio Book version so let’s get down to the important details! The audio book comes on a high quality CD published by Brilliance Audio or can be downloaded in various digital formats. The audio quality itself is very clear and comfortable to listen to. A good portion of the story is told from the point of view of the character John Wheelright who is matured at the time of telling. The voice actor does a really good job of reading and speaking clearly. His voice has a really great tone to it that is quite pleasant to listen to. He uses just the right amount of emotion in his voice at the appropriate times, but never goes into full acting mode.

So while listening to this audio book you get more of a feeling that you’re being read to while John speaks as opposed to hearing the part acted out. Whether you prefer this or not is really a matter of taste. The other main character and the book’s name sake Owen Meany has a very distinct voice. In the book this was shown by using all capital letters when he speaks. For this audio version Irving himself picked the voice actor. This is a good indication that the voice here will sound like what the author had in mind. It really does help you to feel the character much more than John’s character. Compared to other audio books the quality here is quite good. But when comparing this story to others of it’s kind, John Irving’s work is masterful. Even compared to his other writings this is one of his best.

The story itself centers around a small character named Owen who has a very distinct voice and believes himself to be an instrument of God. The narrative is told by his friend John and the book deals with a diverse number of themes such as religion, fate, and politics. It’s deep but never preachy and really does a good job of making you care about these characters. If you’ve never read the book, pick up this audio version and check it out.

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