September 17, 2010

House of Grey by Collin Earl -- Review

This month’s story was an interesting departure for me in that I listened to House of Grey, a podio book written by Collin Earl and read by Christopher Snelgrove. From what I could tell, Mr. Earl did a great job of using the podcast format, his blog, and related forums to make his novel interactive, including running a contest for those who had followed the novel to write their preferred ending for a chance to win a recording of that ending by the team behind the original podio book. This a manga following Monson Grey as he encounters destiny, friends, and relationships in an exclusive and strange high school.

While the story of Monson Grey and his friends has plenty of action and interest sprinkled throughout, I did at times become confused or distracted by the amount of repetition and a wordy style (such as describing one scene as “high-school-type drama” when we are in a high school and witnessing the drama). Mr. Snelgrove’s narration was clear and he did a good job voicing the various characters. I found myself being drawn to the stories behind other characters over that of Monson himself, particularly as his story started out with him as a blank slate, unable to remember much of his previous history. This means that he is at times reduced to merely describing his surroundings as he drifts through them while his companions were engaging with the characters around them. This shifts in later episodes as the story begins coalesce around Monson.

I believe the book would have benefited from a consideration of the structural effects of the podcast medium. Specifically, I would recommend that in the future episode length be regulated and perhaps limited to 30 minutes or less. This particular podcast was, taken in total, longer than the first seasons of most television shows and for this reason, considerably more time-intensive than anticipated. Editing for length might also help with tightening some scenes and eliminating some of the wordiness mentioned earlier.

I'm glad that Mr. Earl brought his novel to my attention and am impressed by the polish that he brought to this free podio book. If you are looking for a way to squeeze more stories into your day, you should consider the podcast format and check out House of Grey.

All the best,
Chrissa :)

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