Sunday, June 2, 2013

Guest Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

So the Manchester, NH Barnes and Noble hosted an event with Joe Hill last week and I went! 

Here's all the people that went:

and he read from his new book NOS4A2:

Answered a whole bunch of questions and then of course signed a million things for all the fans:

This happened: 

 and so did this:

Honestly, he was really funny and AWESOME, I'd go to another event for him the meantime though read a guest review from my brother @DSHorsman on NOS4A2!!!!



Charlie Manx burned a man to death in his black 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith, but that’s not the worst of it. Rumor has it that he kidnapped dozens of children, taking them to a place he calls “Christmasland.” The only child ever to escape was a very lucky girl named Victoria McQueen.

Vic has a gift – she can ride her bike through the Shorter Way bridge and she’ll come out the other side wherever she needs to be, even if it’s hundreds of miles away. Vic doesn’t tell anyone about her ability; no one would understand.

When Charlie Manx finally dies after years in prison, his body disappears...after the autopsy. The police and media think someone stole it, but Vic knows the truth: Charlie Manx is on the road again...and he has her kid. And this time, Vic McQueen’s going after him...


What would it be like to live through Christmas morning EVERY morning?

Joe Hill is an author of horror and dark fantasy including the novels Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, the short-story collection 20th Century Ghosts, and the acclaimed comic book series, Locke and Key. The son of famed novelist Stephen King, it comes as no surprise that he has a feel for the genre. Hill has managed to create a name for himself despite his father's shadow. Hill's latest offering is NOS4A2, which he described as his "senior thesis on horror."

The main theme of the novel is the idea of what Hill has called "inscapes". These are the imaginary worlds that we all create within our minds. Few can access these through the use of a totem. In NOS4A2, Vic McQueen has a Raleigh Tuff Burner  bicycle and later a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle that she uses to find things thought to be lost forever. Others in the story include Maggie Leigh who uses a bag of Scrabble tiles to answer the questions of the universe and the villain, Charlie Manx, with his Rolls Royce Wraith that he uses to transport children to Christmasland, where it is perpetually Christmas. Each use of these to access the Inscapes, however, takes something from the user.

Vic battles to save her son for Manx, who's Wraith allows him to soak up the unhappiness of children and thus keep himself from dying. Manx believes he is doing good work by taking these children (what is said to have been around 70 by the beginning of the timeline) from their parents that will lead them to a life of unhappiness. His associate, a gullible child-at-heart Bing Partridge, uses gingerbread scented sevoflurane to ease the victims into a sense of cooperation. Vic must race against time to save her son from becoming just like the other children found in Christmasland.

The novel had much to be excited about. Hill has continued to write with his own feel for the genre. While there is plenty of darkness and an eerie atmosphere, he does keep the light on with fun pop culture references (such as Vic's son being named Bruce Wayne and a Firefly joke or two). The novel, despite being Hill's longest to date, really moves and keeps the reader interested. Never during my reading did I feel the need to put it down. In fact, the only reason I needed to put it down was to catch some sleep. The concept of the Inscape itself was the most intriguing aspect, which was only made better when Hill used it to connect all of his major works, which in turn made me rethink those and enjoy them more.

Vic McQueen is the first female point of view in Hill's novels, and never does she drift into some of the cliches of women in horror. She is strong and independent and never acts simply as the damsel in distress. She doesn't need saving and instead is the one to do most of the hard labor herself. Most of the other characters were well-written, each with their own decently realized back-stories that allow you to understand their actions (One complaint here would be that Vic's parents aren't very present in the book despite being fairly crucial to the narrative).

Two warnings about the book (that I don't feel take away from it necessarily): 1) The language is not recommended for some younger readers. There is a lot of cussing and name-calling that may be unsuitable for some. And 2) There are no true vampires in the story. Yes, the title is NOS4A2, sounded like Nosferatu  but that is truly the vanity plate of Manx's Wraith that he uses as a sort of tongue and cheek gesture. Not truly a problem but I can understand it being misleading to some and then disappointing them. 

Overall, Joe Hill's NOS4A2 is a great addition to his works. Hill has left the door open for either a sequel of sorts in the future. He has also stated that he plans on writing a short story involving his Scrabble-playing psychic Maggie Leigh that I very much look forward. While this is only his third novel, Hill has the ability to become a mainstay in the genre and his career is certain to only grow.- My Opinion- BUY

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