NOS4A2: A Novel

Joe Hill
NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.


Reviewed: 2021-10-25
I wasn't really sure what to expect from the premise of "Creepy old man saves kids and takes them to Christmasland" but this book was insanely good.

I had only read The Fireman and Locke and Key before and while they have dark elements, nah dude, this book is dark. Yet never depressing, just dark themes. Oh, I haven't mentioned yet, the book is not just about the creepy old man scooping up kids like a mangled child-catcher. It is also about Vic, a kid who realises that she can travel across a bridge that only seems to exist in her mind, to find things that are lost.

This book really is excellent, Joe borrows liberally from classic tropes and scenes yet always makes them original. The cliche "page turner" couldn't be more apt, yes i also found myself covering up the bottom of some pages so my eyes didn't flick down and spoil the narrative for me.

As a brief footnote, I am not one of those people who can perfectly visualise everything they read, I always have a vague sense of what it looks like but cannot "see" it. Here was different, I followed Vic everywhere, picturing it all, thanks to Hill's accessible style.
Reviewed: 2015-03-26

Solid effort by the author...but I was well aware I was reading 692 pages. That's not to say the story wasn't fascinating - it was a great story with a fun concept and it was fresh and different at first, but, like Heart-Shaped Box, the middle was a bit boggy and slowed the reading way way down. Just pages and pages of superfluous, frustrating STUFF (seriously, Tabitha's dewey decimal revelation added nothing and never came back into the story. 10 pages for Hicks??? Why?)...especially since there are things towards the end that, as a reader, I wanted to see but those things were glossed over.

I felt like Vic was shafted and the FBI agent Tabitha suddenly foisted on me like I wasn't supposed to be disoriented. I actually stopped and went back to make sure I hadn't skipped pages and that it was in sequential order and nope, no missing pages, but there is a gaping hole that I fell into with the ending of this story. 

It's almost as if he was just tired of telling the story and wanted it to simply end. This is my second Joe Hill novel and the second time I've felt like the story simply ran out of road, rather than actually had a real ending. It leaves questions that rob a bit of the pleasure from the reading that you've done to get to the ending. For example, are we supposed to interpret that it's been less than 3 months July-October....or 15 months and therefore a whole year plus later between the climax and denouement? Otherwise Lou's attitude toward Tabitha seems awful fast...makes you question how the author portrayed his love for Vic in the first place. Also what happened to the douchey cop, Daltry? Vic's dad? Plus, glaring time travel hole, if what happened to Manx was in the past, and since we remember Vic's dad telling her about it when she was 8, shouldn't her whole life have happened differently? 

But hey, I forgave his dad for pulling the same "I'm done now" ending at the end of Dreamcatcher (and Cell) (and The Dark Tower, although forgiveness for that particularly bitter pill is still somewhat in the future) so, minor gripes aside, I'm still willing to try one more book. I liked the little shout out to Stephen King throughout the book, as well as references to the author's own characters from other stories. They were like little members only moments that we had together.

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