Locke & Key

November 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm (Reads)

keyLocke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

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So, this is an audiobook. Of a graphic novel. And the audiobook is unabridged. At the very least, I had to listen to this to see exactly how they were going to pull that off.

First off, I have to say that graphic novels don’t work as audiobooks. I exercise using the Zombies, Run! app, and while the story keeps me moving, I sometimes get annoyed with how they write the missions. Characters describe things they wouldn’t normally describe if they were seeing them, but since it’s an audio drama, I accept it. Isolating just the dialogue from a graphic novel is the other extreme; it removes all visual cues, and it’s like watching a movie with just the sound. The producers make a strong effort to portray some of those details through music and sound effects, and there is an overall narration that might have been added to the performance (I didn’t confirm it against the graphic novel), but it isn’t enough. Action sequences were vague, and there were long scenes with no dialogue that I expect focused on silent reactions by characters. Plus, some of the voice actors sounded similar, and it was easy to lose track of who was speaking without the proper context.

The premise for the story is pretty cool. It centers around a family living at Keyhouse in a New England town called Lovecraft, and in this house are numerous doors and keys that allow the resident children to do some amazing things. One key can be used to take you anywhere; another allows you to become a ghost and float around the house and grounds; another turns you into your spirit animal. There are a ton of keys, and when the family moves in, none of them know about this history, so they discover it as we do. It opens up a lot of possibilities for the story, but it also creates a reliance on newly-discovered keys to help them out against the trials they endure while living there. Since the protagonist is an evil spirit who is trying to acquire all the keys, there are a lot of trials.

Ultimately, the story is boring and trite. The antagonists here are bad to be bad, without any real motivation, and even the protagonists are vague. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is cheesy (is this the case with all graphic novels and I’ve somehow missed it?), either. There are some neat ideas here (and some really stupid ones; music box, I’m looking in your direction…), but they need the right characters to support them, and I didn’t feel like these were the right ones. Additionally, the delivery by the actors is over-dramatic (So. Much. Crying.). I understand this production won several awards, which … well, it’s a curiosity. As much love as the original comic and this production get, I wonder if I missed something.

Like I said before, I’m not convinced graphic novels are suited for audiobooks. That this is a performance and not a straight read is helpful, but it’s still not suited for reading aloud. Too much is left unspoken, leaving the listener lost in too many places. If you’ve read the graphic novels, it might be worth listening to the production bring the characters to life; if not, skip the audio version until you’re more familiar with the story. I’m not opposed to reading the graphic novels at some point, but right now I’m glad to be finished with the Locke family.

 

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