Written by Margaret Atwood
Narrated by Kyra Harper, Allegra Fulton, Christo Graham, Julie Le Mieux, David Calderisi, Michael Cash, Andrew Jackson
Release Date: February 13, 2018
I’m no stranger to audiobooks, but I dare say few have been in radio play format. I wanted to call Angel Catbird a radio drama but that would be a misnomer. For while it embodies the same concepts at its core, there was little dramatic about it. Words I would use instead include hilarious, rollicking, and ludicrous. It was almost off-putting at first for I had never read one of author Margaret Atwood‘s comics before, instead having consumed her novels in the past. As I listened longer, however, I found it quite amusing and even began to laugh while the audiobook played out.
When one thinks of Atwood, one envisions a well laid plot, beautiful scenery that etches itself into the mind, and a cast of characters whose depth cannot easily be explored. But this is so far removed from that it seems almost an alien concept in comparison. Over-the-top antics delivered by characters who are neither human nor animal but rather a bit of both is but a single trait of this story. Our protagonist, Angel Catbird, is part cat, part bird, part male genetic scientist! Once known as Strig Feleedus, he is now defender of the innocent and enemy of any fiends who would seek world domination.
His origin story is short and sweet, allowing the story to get started with minimal fuss. The names of the characters are puns themselves, as are the descriptions of said individuals. It was not too far into the plot when I realized this is a story best suited for intermediate readers, essentially late elementary through middle school. Once I adjusted my mindset, the context and reading level of the story made more sense. As I said before, this was nothing like the previous works of Atwood’s that I had read. The sheer silliness and fun of the story will keep kids entertained and giggling for the length of this three-hour play.
There is a plethora of genetically spliced humans who have a variety of feline attributes. The names are silly but they reflect the powers of each character. For instance Catula is obvious a cat version of Dracula (complete with vampiric cat-wives), not to mention the undead Mummy-Cat (and ancient cat-gods), and many, many more! The primary character often takes a back seat to these more colorful supporting cast members but it does drive the story. In this installment, we watch as Angel Catbird and his motley crew of catty creatures find themselves aligned with mice and a few other assorted animals. Their adversary is the evil Dr. Muroid, leader of the rats and seeker of world domination! The plot is thin but the tale is truly dialogue driven, setting up the series for a multitude of sequels. For while there is a big battle, it is definitely not the end of the war!
This might have been geared for kids but it has a few risqué parts and references of which parents need to mindful. From slight fetish comments about high boots to an uncomfortable comment regarding a fur bikini, the first chapter sets a sexual tension up that cannot be avoided. As the story progresses, other less obvious comments continue in the same basic vein of keeping a few funny parts set aside for adults. Older children will find humor in the verbiage that has no real purpose other than to push the boundaries of an older kid’s story.
Having said all of this, I must admit I had a little fun listening and laughing. Atwood takes a very pulp comic approach to the scripting and the voice actors narrate the story in an excessively zany style. The over-the-top delivery makes the audiobook more than a radio play, it makes it a bizarre but comical experience. If you have small children, the warnings I gave earlier will go right over their heads. Your pre-teen, on the other hand, will snicker several times throughout the story. I hope you will give it a try, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of it!
Thanks for reading!
MARGARET ATWOOD ADAPTS ANGEL CATBIRD INTO AN IMMERSIVE AUDIO PLAY FOR AUDIBLE
Bestselling Author Pens Her First Original Audio Script Exclusively For Audible
NEWARK, N.J. – February 13, 2018 – Audible Inc., the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, today announced the release of Angel Catbird, a multicast, original audio adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s New York Times best-selling graphic novel series of the same name. Inspired by the Golden Age of Comics and vintage radio superhero sagas, Angel Catbird was recorded live, in ensemble, and is now available for download at www.audible.com/angelcatbird.
“In the 1940s of radio shows and comic books, I was six when I first started drawing the flying cats with wings that eventually turned into Angel Catbird the “Superhero.” It was great fun to work on my first audio script: a retro radio revisit, complete with theme song, sound effects, and amazing voice actors who turn my team of furred and feathered fighters into full-throated stars,” said Atwood.
The Audible version of Angel Catbird includes state-of-the-art sound design and a musical score that captures the captivating visual images of the graphic novel in sound. The production takes listeners on the courageous adventures of a friendly feathered and unapologetic superhero, Strig Feleedus, who is cruelly mutated by a DNA-splicing experiment gone awry, turning him into a cat-owl-human hybrid. When faced with a villainous rat-human intent on eradicating other species, Strig must lead a band of half-cats on a humorous, action-packed and pulp-inspired revolution to save the day – with a lot of cat puns along the way.
Atwood, who has made a habit of memorable cameos in all of her film and Audible original productions, plays The Wise Owl in Angel Catbird.
“We are delighted that Margaret Atwood continues to create original and entertaining works for Audible,” said Audible EVP and Publisher Beth Anderson. “The Handmaid’s Tale: Special Edition, which includes Atwood’s continuation of the story available only on the Audible version, was one of our top-selling titles of 2017. With Angel Catbird, we had a daunting artistic challenge to convey a story told through drawings and turn it into an audio production, but with Margaret’s script and the work of fabulous actors and producers, we’ve done it!”
With a 30-day membership trial at Audible, new listeners can enjoy any one audiobook, including this performance of Angel Catbird, free.
Among the acclaimed performers who have narrated works of literature for Audible are Zachary Quinto, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, Emma Thompson, and Jesse Eisenberg. Audible Studios has won a Grammy Award, for its production of Janis Ian’s memoir Society’s Child, and has also been recognized with the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year, for Colin Firth’s performance of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Audible invented and commercialized the first digital audio player in 1997, and has since been at the forefront of the explosively growing audiobook download segment. In 2017, listeners around the world downloaded over two billion hours of Audible content.