Saturday, January 8, 2011

Personal Effects Dark Art - novel review

   The novel begins innocently enough with Zach, an employee of the Brinkvale mental hospital. Zach is a successful new art therapist assigned to a new patient named Martin Grace. Grace is blind and insists that a “Dark Man” is telling him how and when people will die. Then they do. Now he's awaiting a multiple murder trial.

   But the reader interaction goes much further than reading words on pages. When a character is given a number to check a phone message, I picked up my phone, dialed away and heard that message. Zach's girlfriend has a gaming blog I went online and read. And then there's the 26 documents that are kept in a folder in the front cover of the book.

   When I read about a document in the book, I found it in the envelope and examined it. This transmedia experience led me to “follow the clues” in real time which I found to enrich the story greatly. The depth of the story given from the documents (which range from photograph and drivers licenses to braille notes and death certificates) brought me closer to what Zach was discovering and gave me a sense of agency towards the events unfolding. The illustrations throughout the novel show us renditions of the characters involved.

   Transmedia storyteller J.C. Hutchins penned the book along with Jordan Weisman, a game designer who founded 42 Entertainment. Together they weave a mind bending web of fear and passion that utilizes transmedia elements in a seamless, brilliant way.