Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 8 hours, 17 minutes
Evolved is one of my favorite N.R. Walker stories and I absolutely fell in love with Lloyd and Shaun when I first read it. The world building is fascinating, the story crazy romantic and super sexy, and the book deals with some really interesting ethical and philosophical issues. It is everything I love in a romance — something that works for both my heart and my head. If you aren’t familiar with the story, you can check out my review of the book for the plot set up and my thoughts.
I was really excited to see this come out in audio because aside from loving the story, I think this is a really interesting book to translate into audio format. The key premise of the story is, as the title indicates, the way that Shaun grows and evolves over the course of the book from an android built to mimic humanity, to a being that is for all intents and purposes actually human. As part of the process, Shaun’s mannerisms and speech change to reflect his more human personality. So I was really curious to see how this would translate into audio.
Narrator Joel Leslie has really captured Shaun perfectly here. There is just the right combination of diction and pacing when Shaun is in his more android state (or when he is pretending to be). Over the course of the book, we can follow Shaun’s progress as his speech patterns and style begin to change to something more naturally human. What I really appreciated here is that Leslie never sounds overly robotic or overly artificial, and it is never distracting, but just right. Between Leslie’s narration and Walker’s writing, you can really both feel and hear the way Shaun grows and changes over the course of the book and it just works perfectly.
The rest of the narration is equally good. Leslie gives nice diversity to the voices and captures the characters well. In particular, Lloyd’s nerves and anxieties come through well in his voice. Every time he says “oh boy” I got a little giggle because Leslie is just so spot on with him. This is also a super sexy book, and Leslie gives the more intimate moments the intensity they need.
I will say that I think this may be my favorite of Leslie and Walker’s collaborations. The writing and the audio just work so perfectly together. I already adored the book, but the audio was an equal hit for me and I’d recommend this story in either format. I highly encourage you to check it out.