NOS4A2, Joe Hill’s most recent book is about Talent Manx, a child abductor who takes his victims to Christmas land, and Vic McQueen (a/k/a the brat), the one kid who escaped Manx’s grip.
I wanted to love this book. I’m a huge Joe Hill fan and have loved his three other books – 20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and Horns – and was so looking forward to this one. I was, however, a bit disappointed. I didn’t hate it but it was missing that gripping aspect all his other books have had. The book starts out with a brief look at what appears to be a patient, Manx, on his last strings. The nurse attending to him gets the scare of her life when Manx suddenly grabs her and says there’s a place for her son at Christmas land. The nurse, terrified this man knows her son’s name, cries for help and the doctor who eventually comes doubts that Manx could have done this in his comatose state.
Next is the introduction to The Shorter Way – Vic McQueen’s inscape. Where Vic goes when she wants to get away from the fighting of her parents or something that makes her unhappy. Vic’s first passage to the Shorter Way is her bike, a Raleigh Tuff Burner. The Shorter Way is kind of like an alternate universe where Vic can talk to and see people as well as travel to where she needs to go. She meets a friend there who also has inscapes and knew that she would one day meet Vic. As Vic gets older her inscapes start to fall off and she comes to think all that happened was the imaginations of a child. When Vic is about 17, her Raleigh Tuff Burner takes her on her fateful journey to Manx only to escape him at the last moment.
The rest of the book is about Vic and her struggle to live as an adult, forget about what happened to her, Vic trying to be the mom she should be, and her fight to end Manx and his life of kidnapping children and tormenting her. All of which took to long to get to the end result for my liking. I wanted the pace to pick up and stop providing details which didn’t really help with anything. I didn’t even find what should have been a terrifying moment – Vic’s narrow escape from Manx – that scary. It seemed to brief and easy and I didn’t find it compelling.
I found this book to be far to long. I wanted to know more why inscapes happened but was never provided good reasons behind it. I also felt as if I was reading one of Hill’s father’s book (Stephen King) and not Hill. I felt as if he was trying to write an epic horror book that would live up to his famous father rather than be writing all his own, like it was with the first three books. I wanted to love NOS4A2 but I ended up feeling kind of blah about it. I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t the Joe Hill I’ve come to love. I kept thinking I was reading King, not Hill. I do recommend reading this book if you’re a Hill fan even though I was disappointed. One thing I did enjoy was Hill’s way of ending a chapter and having the last word begin on the next chapter. This style did give the book an interesting pace since you really had to turn the page to find out what happened. A bit odd but once I got used to it found it enjoyable.
I guess you can’t love them all. Here’s to hoping that Joe’s next book finds his path back to himself.