I recently received a copy of The Solo Leveling Vol 1 Audiobook from Yen Audio to be released July 13 for the purpose of review.
Having read the light novel I was curious as to how the audiobook would go. Realistically, I haven’t really listened to many audiobooks (largely because I tend to lose focus when something is just in audio form) so I wondered if I’d be able to get into the story in the different format.
For those unfamiliar with Solo Leveling it is an action/adventure story created by Chugong and is set in our world where gates to dungeons have begun to appear which sometimes unleash some fairly nasty monsters on the civilian population. Fortunately, some people have awakened as hunters and go and defeat the boss to close the gates before the monsters are released.
We follow Jinwoo Sung, who is known as the weakest of all hunters, as he goes on a dungeon raid. However, when tragedy strikes and most of the hunters who entered the gate are killed, Jinwoo having been left to die suddenly gets an opportunity he never expected.
I really liked that it is a fantasy story that isn’t an isekai and the way the fantasy elements were woven into real world settings. I also liked the way the story continues to escalate a sense of danger and tension. Basically, while the plot of weakest to strongest is kind of done a million times, Solo Leveling has made it quite interesting and the journey so far at least has been worth following.
The audiobook has been narrated by Ki Hong Lee and you can check out a bit of a biography for him over on the Hachette Audio site as well as find links to where the Solo Leveling Vol 1 Audiobook will be available.
So let me just say, Ki Hong Lee has done an excellent job narrating this story.
The pace, which is usually something that drives me crazy about audio books, is actually pretty decent. You don’t feel like you are hanging on each word and just waiting for them to move on. Instead, the pace is easy to listen to, pauses feel appropriate, and there’s a sense that you are moving forward with each sentence.
The clarity was also awesome on the copy I received. I was listening while going on a short trip around the state to visit a number of family members and friends (so plenty of car time) but because I was traveling with someone I was listening through headphones (traffic noise, road and engine noise, other people) and it was still really clear and easy to follow.
One thing I really have to compliment Ki Hong Lee on is the way he brought the characters of Solo Leveling to life.
Jinwoo, as the main character, is given a voice and internal narration that really made him feel real and it was easier to connect with him as he went through this incredible journey from near-death to becoming stronger and facing off against monsters and other hunters.
There’s a number of scenes where a reasonably large number of hunters are together in a frantic situation inside the dungeons and the dialogue between them comes thick and fast with few dialogue tags and yet the way they included subtle variations in tone to distinguish between them worked really well.
The one exception to that was probably when one of the female hunters screamed. I kind of get that the narrator of an audiobook isn’t actually going to scream (causing pain to the listener) but the half-hearted ‘scream’ included here actually made me laugh and was one of the few immersion breaking moments while I listened.
The other criticism I had, before I go back to singing the praises of what was actually a really great listen, was the way the various sound effects were portrayed. Whether it was the ‘ping’ of the system delivering a message or the sounds of statues sliding across the dungeon floor, hearing sound effects being spoken doesn’t really do them justice.
When you read Solo Leveling you see the words for the sound effects but for me I just hear the sound I think it should make. Hearing someone actually speaking the sound again takes a bit of the immersion out of the experience.
Again, minor criticism and more likely a personal preference.
The narration as a whole is pretty on point and builds up tension in scenes where it is needed, delivers sarcasm and humour when needed, and paints a solid view of what is happening while you are listening.
While I intended at first to listen to this one chapter at a time I found myself reaching the end of a chapter and just continuing on because I was caught up in the story and the events and wanted to get to the next part (even though I knew how the story would go).
All and all, the Solo Leveling Vol 1 Audiobook was a great listen and this story really did come to life through the narration. Whether you’ve tried the manwha or the light novel or not, the audiobook adds a little something to the characters and was quite an experience.
Solo Leveling Vol 1 Audiobook – Find out where it will be available.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.