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Gray

The Complete Collection
By: Lou Cadle
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 24 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (627 ratings)

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Summary

A dense black cloud boiled up in the southeastern sky. It rose high and fast, like a time-lapse movie of the birth of a thunderhead. But it was no rain cloud. Wholly black, it reached up and up until it loomed over her, blocking out the sun. Somehow, she knew, it was Death coming for her.

Pre-med student Coral is on vacation in Idaho when something terrible happens. The black cloud is followed by a wildfire and searing heat that lasts for days. She survives deep in a cave but emerges days later to find the world transformed, with blackened trees, an ash-filled sky, and no living creatures stirring - except for her.

So begins her desperate journey to find water and food and other survivors...and the answer to the mystery of what happened.

Note: This is a combined edition of Gray I, Gray II, and Gray III.

©2017 Lou Cadle (P)2017 Podium Publishing
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Captivating disaster survival story

Would you listen to Gray again? Why?

Yes, definitely. This writer creates a compelling narrative that keeps the reader's attention. The characters have personality that I could relate to, although as a work of fiction the writer does take some liberties with caricature. I loved the excitement and mystery concerning what had caused the event that now appeared to disrupt perhaps most of the world. We still don't know how much of the world was affected. I will look for more books by this writer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gray?

The book had many memorable and exciting moments and to state them might spoil the story for the next reader. The characters' struggle for survival following the event, was it nuclear or was it some natural disaster event, the characters didn't know to begin with, and it's only hinted at. The reader draws a conclusion on what may have caused the event.

What does Lauren Fortgang bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The best thing about an audio book is that you can get on with chores whilst listening. The narrator had a pleasant voice and an accent that I found comfortable to my English ear. An American accent, but not an overly strong accent. An American accent was appropriate for this book, as events are based in the USA.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Oh I wish some producer would. The earth burned.

Any additional comments?

I really recommend this book.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A bleak apocolypse

Did you read The Road and think it was just too cheerful? Then this is the book for you!
This is a remarkably bleak apocolypse - unlike most end of the world scenarios there's almost nothing left just lying around for the survivors to utilise. This is a gripping story of survival with an excellent narrator.
I dropped a couple of stars, as occasionally I felt there was too little curiosity by the characters about certain situations. This was obviously essential to keeping the sense of mystery, but wasn't that well written, and strained credulity too much.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gray it was not

I found this book far. from gray it was a fantastic trilogy I enjoyed every word
and performance was second to none

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Gave up as no new ideas up to that point

Narration
Lauren Fortgang is a competent narrator here (I have no other books narrated by her for comparison). It's not that super rare 5/5 experience (like your first military fiction or Mountain Man novel narrated by R.C. Bray), but the narration is competently done without unnecessarily drawing attention to itself. For better or for worse, there hasn't been much in the way of accents or dialect so far, so I can't comment on her talent/skill there. Just as some male readers struggle with female voices, some female narrators struggle with male ones; Fortgang does well here in that her male characters never distracted me from the story. Would use again with confidence.

Story
As you'll know if you've looked for this title on Goodreads, the beginning is quite a slog, and I had a good number of misstarts. Sure, it's harder to make that part engaging as the protagonist has no friendlies to have dialogue with and no antagonists to fight, but the author made his own bed there. Besides, even (wo)man-vs-environment can still be made interesting to people with a prepper bend. Things get a little better as more characters are added, but the prose never really gets too exciting. The biggest sin however seems to be that 24 chapters in (so presumably a bit into what was originally book 2), we haven't been treading any new ground. It's the same lot of homo homini lupus tropes we've seen in end times fiction for more than 50 years (mild spoiler: stsilatnemadnuf suoigiler dna ,slabinnac ,sdrolraw / seiteicos tsicsaf ,yas ot si taht), the last of which is generally unrelatable to Europeans. (I have no intention of blaming an American author for perhaps writing primarily for Americans, but it's still pertinent info for Europeans).
Finally while I otherwise liked the protagonist well enough, her constant worrying about whether she might be an albatross to her companion even after she proves her worth can get a bit tiring, and so can be the constant worry about rape -- sure, it's a valid concern in a post-apocalyptic world, but it's a valid concern in our world too, so it brings a sense of "same old crap, different day" to a setting that most probably want a change from their regular lives from: "It's the apocalypse. Everything's changed. Well, except this one bit."
My ideal version of this book would probably have been more of a mix of survival, exploration, trying to find out what happened, and trying to rebuild within the possibilities of the now non-industrial society, and to the needs of the new world -- some or all of which may yet happen in part 3, but I can't wait that long. Chapter 24's "I really can't do that tired trope a single time more" broke my will to read on and find out.

NB Giving a star rating to a purchase you haven't completed is always a bit iffy, but unfortunately, Audible makes that a prerequisite for a written review. Let us call it a rating for the first book, then.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Posibly the best and deepest story I have read.

Deep characters, and through it all I allways felt close to them. As others have pointed out, this is a grim story and not one time did I think that corners where cut, or compromises made, or that the feelings where overplayed. It kept me up during nights and I overslept a couple of times during this last month, but it was worth it.

If you enjoy tales of the human condition, the philosophy of our nature and life itself, then don't hesitate, just buy this book and enrich your life with this tale.

(And please excuse any spelling-errors I may have made. English is not my first language and it's 4:17 AM as I am whriting this.)

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Survival in an ice age

Different from other survivalist fiction, this book leaves our protaganists searching for food and signs of life follwing an event which sends the world into a new ice age. The characters were rounded enough to make you care about what happens to them and the story was believable. Of all the things that could bring an end to the human race, this is the one that is the most scary and I wouldn't want to survive in this land.....

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pure addiction

Great story that develops and twist all the way through. Very thought provoking as to what you would do when the day comes!!!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not a bad read

I did enjoy this book, it was very easy to listen to but I feel the ending seemed a bit rushed, like the author got bored and just wanted to finish it in a hurry.

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't finish it

This is definitely my type of book (usually)
It has taken me almost a month to listen to it and I just couldn't finish it,
It was quite frankly boring
I got to book 3 and there was still no big revelation on what caused the world to be burnt to a crisp,
I want Mountain Man back!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dystopian novels at their best.

Totally believable 24 hours of pure joy, if not for the characters, certainly for me. Sucked in from the start and didn't disappoint all the way through. Thoroughly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • 05-11-17

Great Story - Superb Value

When comparing entertainment value to story length, Gray: The Complete Collection cannot be beat. Being kind of cheap, I prefer spending credits on longer books, and this was a 24 hour listen fest that I simply could not put down. The combined talents of Lou Cadle and Lauren Fortgang ensured I wasn't disappointed.

For 2017, I've been binge listening to Post Apocalyptic books, and this book is right up there with the best of them. For me, plausibility is a big deal - I like real people solving real problems. I think the author did a great job creating believable situations that held my interest. This is also the first Post Apocalyptic book I've read that was written from the perspective of a woman. Many of the scenes involve her struggling with self-doubts, but always becoming the strong woman at the right time. This may sound tedious, but I felt the way it was written helped embellish the storyline. Some may also feel that the main characters were a bit too lucky, but in this new World you make your own luck, and that's what they did. Overcoming one obstacle after another as the World grew ever bleaker truly holds your interest.

Please don't be put off by my 4 star review. This book is well written and highly entertaining, which most people value (I certainly do). To get a 5th star, a book has to have meaningfulness - it has to make me think. While Gray has some thought provoking situations, at the end of the day, it's a standard overcome all odds type of book. Lauren Fortgang is also, by far, the best female narrator I've listened to; able to read multiple male and female characters equally well. So, if you like the Post Apocalyptic Genre without any zombies, then Gray: The Complete Collection is definitely one that needs to be in your Audible Library.

69 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Christen Doc
  • 09-11-17

Promising but ultimately tedious

The author is truly compelling when writing about the nitty gritty of survival in this post-apocalyptic future. This is most of the first 2/3 of the book. But whenever the plot takes us beyond that into some society it falls apart and becomes cartoonish, almost laughably so. There's no nuance to the secondary characters and antagonists, they are straw men that the main characters can judge, defeat and leave behind. It gets very tedious. And by the end I was so sick of the holier-than-thou attitude of the main characters that I was eager to end the whole thing. In fact I didn't bother with the last hour because it was so annoying and boring. The narration is actually solid throughout, better than the story deserved.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kci3
  • 11-10-17

Something new in the Apocalypse genre!

One of my favorite books is The Road and many of my book loving friends would call it slow. I found it intense and so beautifully written that I often forgot to breath while listening. The book Gray many would consider a slow book too it is also based on character development and not constant action. For me I found the Gray compelling and always engrossing. I couldn’t wait until I could listen again after work. It is what I call a treasure hunting book in an apocalyptic world, my favorite. I love scavenging, persevering and never giving up hope. I am excited when they find a can of meat or a bottle of medicine that allows them to live one more day. The main characters often do things that I would not have done (I’m more blood thirsty) but I was alright with the decisions because it was more realistic. There were things that bothered me like everyone pretty much being evil and scientific things that would not be true. Even those things did not distract me from loving this book. There are many action packed exciting parts of the book but it is not a constant ongoing part. The book is based on regular everyday people and not the military or super hero’s doing unbelievable things. I rarely give a five star to a book for me what it means is 1. I will go to the author’s web-site 2. I will buy other books by this author 3. I will listen to this book more than once 4. I will tell others about it

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cat's MeWOW
  • 17-08-17

Was Loathe To Put It Down!

This is one of THE very few audio books I had to listen to straight through. The first chapter ran a bit slow, but I stuck with it and soon enough I had headphones plugged in and had my Kindle tucked under my arm as I cooked dinner, washed dishes, exercised and even used the restroom while listening.

I did sleep for 4 hours, but since my Kindle has a sleep timer on it, I only had to back up 23 minutes or so when I woke up. I know! I sound so pathetic! But this plot was very well written and the narrator did a heck of a job bringing this story to life so....

I regret nothing.

It DOES beg the questions, though: In such a situation, where there are no answers as to what can cause the world to physically flip flop to the extreme unknown, who can you trust? How does one survive when they are ill-prepared for such an extended and volatile event? Where do you draw the line of humanity when very decision means life or death?

I purchased this book outright.
I was not disappointed.

62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • d cowan
  • 05-10-17

Could have been 1/3 the length.

Nice writing. Good story- but could have been written in 1/3 the amount. This book did not contain 24 hours worth of story-more tedious detail than I prefer.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Zombie Specialist
  • 05-09-17

Best value for money in a long time!

There is certainly a lot to like about this one. Firstly, the author creates the perfect amount of tension through developing characters who are just ordinary people and putting them in an extra ordinary situation. The tension is further developed through the plot itself, the overall reason for disaster and the way some characters respond to the disaster. It all helps creates a level of realism which made me wonder... what I would be like in this situation?

Secondly, there is nothing to complain about in regards to sound quality and the quality of the narration. Maybe, slightly slow... I sped it up a notch to 1.25x speed, but I might have done that because I was so eager to hear the story.

Thirdly, and most importantly I finished this one with a good deal of satisfaction, knowing that I had received excellent value for money... it is over 24 hours in length!

Lastly, I know this probably won't happen. But it is possible for this story to continue. I really hope the author does. I would even pre order a copy! Please don't take this point to mean that I was not happy with the ending and or that it leaves you hanging waiting for an incomplete story to finish. Because it isn't like that all!

In summary, I am happy that I brought this one as opposed to my usual zombie genre. The world’s fastest fat man is giving this two thumbs up and a very long and cheerful 'heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey'

PS. Some people have tracked me on the good old inter webs and asked if I receive free copies of the titles I review, or if I get paid for reviews. I can say beyond any shadow of doubt, the answer is no I have not. Some authors have offered, but I have said no.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jamie Weekes
  • 26-02-18

Just really unbelievable and not in a good way.

I really, really wanted to like this book...

Unfortunately, Gray is a treatise in why authors need to think about how people actually behave. This author did not, and instead used characters like a plot tool. They did what they did, not because any rational human would behave in that way, but so that they could be in the positions that the author felt were necessary for them to set up the plot that he wanted.

For instance, we begin with Coral our protagonist, a 19 year old pre-med student (again she has this background because it's convenient for the author, even though 19 year old pre-med students would be taking history and english classes, not something that would actually be helpful) on a school break, camping alone in her brothers RV in Idaho. Really? How many 19 year old females do you know that drive to a different state alone in an RV to camp for multiple days? How many of those lone 19 year old females would decide to explore a cave? Sounds safe... Bottom line, the protagonist repeatedly makes unbelievable decisions and succeeds in ways that are so far fetched I laughed out loud at multiple points in the story. Pick a lock by feel with nothing but a swiss army knife and no idea what you're doing? And in only a couple hours? Wow. Make a bow out of a stick on your first try? Amazing.

There's also a huge inconsistency in how the destruction from the event happens. Forests? Gone and burned. Buildings? Destroyed with a few exceptions. Corals RV? A little bit smokey, but all her stuff inside is just fine.

On a positive note I thought the performance was decent and I do think that it got marginally better as the story went on. By the end I was at least reasonably interested in Coral and Benjamin, despite the shallow character development and the painful gutting through I had to do to make it there. With a little more work and thought, this book could have been pretty good. But ultimately it was a frustrating listen.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Grace
  • 10-10-17

Impossible to put down

This book was amazing. Well written, great characters, and an engrossing storyline. One of the best post-apocalyptic novels I have ever read.

I was disappointed when I had to stop listening to do things like sleep, work, etc. and spent most of my free time thinking about the novel--what will happen next? What I would do? etc.

Here's a book that will stick with you. Worth every penny (or credit).

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mavwreck75
  • 16-10-17

Long Slow Burn

If you have an extremely long wait to see the cardiologist and want to fill the time without raising your heart rate a single beat just fire up this audiobook and you're all set.

The story just slowly steadily and painstakingly smoldered to its "dawn of a new day" conclusion. It was like asking someone for the time and, in response, they built a clock for you in slow motion. The story was not bad, despite loose ends throughout, it just unfolded very very slowly.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kealnt7
  • 07-08-17

Survive

Where does Gray rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is such an amazing book. It is definitiely near the top.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gray?

When Coral found the boy who died, I really felt for her and was glad to see her humanity evident here and througout the book.

What does Lauren Fortgang bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent narration, brought the book to life, so well done.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES! Sadly and not sadly its way too long.

Any additional comments?

This was a book I was heistant to try, I have never heard of the author and have been so disappointed by all the dystopian trash that is out there. This is very different. There are no "heroes" here or epic wars, just a world that could truly happen and characters that you truly care about who you are on a journey with because you as the reader dont have the answers to their questions either. The book doesnt end in a tidy little package, with all your questions answered, or every arc dealt with completely, but life is like that, which makes it all the more engaging.

30 people found this helpful