Audiobook Review: Better Nate Than Ever

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Better Nate Than EverBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Narrator: Tim Federle
Length: 5 hrs, 54 mins
Series: Better Nate Than Ever #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Humor
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

A small-town boy hops a bus to New York City to crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical. 

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

Tim Federle writes a warm and witty debut that's full of broken curfews, second chances, and the adventure of growing up—because sometimes you have to get four hundred miles from your backyard to finally feel at home.

Better Nate Than Ever was absolutely terrible for my reading schedule. It totally made me not want to read . . . anything else, that is. Seriously, it’s a good thing this was a short audiobook or I would probably still have put off my other books to finish this one. I just kept inventing reasons that I needed to listen to more, tasks to do so I could listen rather than read my print books, which is a good sign.

Why Did I Read This Book?
Well, Better Nate Than Ever was already on my radar, because I do love stories with glbtq themes. However, the wanting turned to needing because my friend MG read it, and said it was completely wondrous. Thus, when I had the chance to get the audio, I went for it the way Nate Foster goes for donuts.

What’s the Story Here?
Nate Foster is a kid with big dreams. He’s flamboyant, hungry all the time, and possessed of a fantastic best friend who will egg him on to try his hardest in everything. Libby, his bestie, tells him about an audition for the Broadway musical of E.T., and helps him plan a day trip to New York City, so that he can try out for the show. Bad idea bears, right, guys? A thirteen year old off to the city by himself, and it’s not like Nate’s possessed of a lot of street smarts. Anyway, shenanigans and tomfoolery will be had. Snooty mothers and pompous smirkers will be faced. Hopes and dreams will be attempted with everything Nate’s got.

How are the Characters?
Nate and Libby are sympathetic, because they’re the outcasts (and because they use flopped Broadway plays as epithets, which is hilarious and clever). However, they’re definitely not idealized or anything, because they can be just as mean as the others. Well, okay, not just as mean, but they are pretty judgmental too. Both of them are teased really severely, for being fat and, in Nate’s case, for being gay. I liked that Nate is very obviously flawed, but that you cannot help but root for this crazy kid. I cringed for him when he committed egregious errors, and rooted for him to go home without his aspirations smashed into little pieces along the New York City sidewalk. Also, Federle does dive into some larger family issues on top of the overarching comedic plot, which I thought was pretty fantastic, since the tone remains light but serious issues are covered.

And the GLBTQ Themes?
What I love here is that romance really isn’t a plot line. In fact, Nate isn’t gay. He probably is, based on a couple of hints, but he’s still in the questioning stage of life. He hasn’t reached a firm decision about who he is yet. Better Nate Than Ever is written in a style that addresses the reader, like Nate has just sat down to enact this whole scenario for you in a one man show, which he would TOTALLY do, and Nate straight out says that he’s undecided, because he’s just thirteen. I love that, because, sure, some people know right away, but just because he loves musicals and fits the stereotype of a gay guy, that doesn’t mean he is. There were also some undercurrents of shame in his thoughts, though, so I hope that if he is gay, he can find strength with himself to see that as the positive thing it is, and not something shameful and secretive. All of his feelings felt very real to him, and conveyed how confused he is overall and not ready for all the romance stuff.

How was the Narration?
Tim Federle was the perfect choice to narrate this. I mean, I do love when authors narrate their own work, because there’s something so personal and touching in that. Of course, not every author has a voice for narration, but Federle is fantastic. He does Nate so well, and reads with scads of emotion. Basically, I loved everything about the way he narrated this, and everything about Better Nate Than Ever just made me smile and compulsively keep listening.

Sum It Up with a GIF:

18 responses to “Audiobook Review: Better Nate Than Ever”

  1. I’m always on the lookout for a good audiobook. This sounds so cute and since I live near NYC, I will put this on my radar.

    • Christina says:

      This is one of my favorite audiobooks so far. So completely adorable and funny! I’m sure being an NYC person will make it extra funny. The comments on the number of cupcake shops are hilarious!

  2. MG Buehrlen says:

    Ahhhhhh yay! Loved this book so hard. I didn’t know Tim narrated, so now I need the audiobook.

  3. I like that this one has the character in the in between stage, still toeing the line and trying to figure it all out for himself. I think I could really like this, it sounds fabulous. Flawed characters that you really connect to is something that I am always looking for!

    • Christina says:

      Yes! There aren’t many books about teens unsure of their sexuality, and there also aren’t many about teens who aren’t yet interested in romance, but it’s not like everyone hits puberty and immediately wants romance. Super fun. I could def see you enjoying this, Jenni!

  4. Giselle says:

    Haha I love it when a book makes you not give a shit about anything but reading. Like when it’s 3am and you’re like pfft that’s, not THAT late, I can read another hour!! >.< The characters sound awesome I love the outcasts I find they're easier to like... sympathize with I guess like you say. Plus I find they're often much less superficial as characters and you get to know their real personalities. I also like how it explores sexuality and how it's not always black and white. Great review, chickiepoo!!

    • Christina says:

      Right? Well, I don’t do that too much, but I do often end up staying up an hour late or so to finish and the next morning I’m like fuuuuuuck. But yeah, this book is super cute and it’s nice to have a selfish character sometimes, because, come on, when you’re like 13 you think about yourself pretty much exclusively. And you do think rude things, so it’s totally believable.

  5. Amy says:

    I almost asked for this one for review, but skipped it. Now I wish I had. This audiobook sounds fantastic. I love that it seems very realistic to the age of the characters too. I love that it explores sexuality in a believable way too.

    • Christina says:

      If you asked, she’d probably still give it to you! Super cute and it’s just five hours so it goes by really quickly. 🙂

    • Amy says:

      I would, but I just got two from S&S yesterday, I’m half done with the School for Good and Evil, I have one from HC that comes out next week, and I will be getting another one next week from S&S. I’m full up on audio for the month lol!!! Three of them are pretty long too.

  6. Wonderful review, and this just sounds so cute. I am glad his exploration, indecision was handled well.

  7. Nate sounds like a character I would enjoy being in his head. I love when a book draws me in like this one seemed to you

  8. Megan K. says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve actually heard/seen an MG book that deals with sexuality. I love how the characters are flawed and have “mean streaks” in them. I don’t see that much in the YA fiction I read these days, which is sad. Anyway, thanks for putting this on my radar! Definitely will keep any eye out for this.

  9. Wow, this book wasn’t on my radar at all (I’m so suspicious of MG books with cutesy cartoon covers), but I am definitely reading it now. I’m always looking for good LGBT books and it’s unusual to have that in a MG book, and it sounds like it’s handled well. And if it made you not want to read any other books? Sold!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  10. Annie says:

    I’ve actually read some really bad reviews for this but I’m glad you liked it! I might even pick it up sometime soon!

  11. Lyn Kaye says:

    This one sounds SUPER cute. Can it be given to upper elementary kids?

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