Podcast Review #59: How to Succeed in Evil: the Novel


originally published December 13, 2010

Title: How to Succeed in Evil, the Novel
Author: Patrick McLean
Genre: Super Hero/Villain Fiction
Released: 16 March 2009 – 16 July 2009
Located: PodibooksiTunes (warning – only the first 18 chapters “work” in the iTunes version)
Formats Available: Podcast only at this point
Rating: R for violence and sexual situations and language

How to Succeed in Evil is another of those podcasts that I’d heard of but never got around to listening. I knew nothing about it or it’s author, but had heard it mentioned on more than one occasion. For the most part, I hadn’t heard much positive or negative, just mentions. I surmised that I wouldn’t have heard that number of mentions, however, if the podcast was terrible, so I decided to give it a try.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: How to Succeed in Evil is not a self help page for the maladjusted. It is the story of Edwin Windsor, Evil Efficiency Consultant. He’s like Arthur Anderson for Supervillains. (Stolen from iTunes. Believe it or not, this is the longest synopsis I could find. If synopsis were graded, I’d fail this one.)

Production: For as excellent as the production of How to Succeed in Evil is, there are still too many errors and issues that have gone uncorrected. Let’s start with iTunes. After the first 18 chapters, the remaining eps and chapters are all corrupted. No content. At least not in my tests. [ed: Mr. McLean has commented below that he has tested both the iTunes “independent” feed and the Podiobooks feed that always runs in iTunes and has not been able to replicate my problem. The issue I’m finding is only with the iTunes independent feed (you can tell the difference by the icon, which is a bit cropped and therefore enlarged). In this feed at episode 54 (chapter 19) the times start showing up at a length of 1:01. When loaded onto any of my devices, there is no content. Can anyone else verify this or is this simply my equipment?] [I’ve come to the conclusion, that although I cannot get said episodes to download correctly, I must be the exception rather than the rule. Thanks to those that have provided feedback.-ed] There are multiple examples of blown lines being repeated without the original being edited out as well. My final complaint is the length of the episodes.

I don’t believe author’s need to constrain themselves to the magically arbitrary and adhered to rule of thirty minutes. Not at all. There are many examples of podcasts that last longer and those that are shorter that are both done very well and that aren’t bothered by not adhering to this rule. However, when some of the eps are less than ten minutes, the length can become an issue. When they’re less than five, it is an annoyance. [Mr. McLean also points out that the novel is relatively short at approximately 80,000 words. It does seem longer with the short episodes, but I’m not complaining about the length of the book. It was good. It ended when it was over. I just would have preferred, personally, a few of the short eps to have been combined.]

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad.

Grade: B

Cast: This is an author read book. But it is far from a straight read. Each character is voiced distinctively and with it’s own inflection. With the job Mr. McLean does a in reading life into each of his creations, Dr. Frankenstein would rightfully be jealous.

Grade: A

Story: I’ve never much been one for antiheroes. Thomas Covenant left me rooting for the villains. Edwin is far from a Mr. Donaldson creation, but he’s not exactly likable either. At least not to me. As I’ve said multiple times, I’m very character driven, and this isn’t a character driven story. The story is built around a unique concept, and that concept is enough to keep me listening.

Grade: Solid B

Verdict: As mentioned above, How to Succeed in Evil: The Novel is unique. However, a unique concept will never propel a book into my upper tier alone. Without the characters, it is just an interesting story. In no way is that a bad thing. However, at 70 episodes, this is far from a short easy listen. If you like it early on, keep going. If not, you might as well quit. You know what you’re getting very early on.

Disclosure: I have no idea if Mr. McLean is on Twitter or not. I know I’ve never had any contact with him. Yes, that includes never having been offered anything in return for this review.

~ by odin1eye on 10 January, 2020.

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