Audie Award Finalist, Solo Narration - Female, 2014
Joe Hill, the acclaimed, award-winning author of the New York Times best sellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, plunges you into the dark side of imagination with a thrilling novel of supernatural suspense that will have you flinching at shadows and checking the rearview mirror again and again....
Don't slow down
Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.
Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charlie's twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.
And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble...and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.
That was a lifetime ago. Now, the only kid ever to escape Charlie's unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.
But Charlie Manx hasn't stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won't slow down until he's taken his revenge. He's after something very special - something Vic can never replace.
As a life-and-death battle of wills builds her magic pitted against his - Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all...or die trying....
Joe Hill's acclaimed works of fiction, Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and 20th Century Ghosts, have already earned him international acclaim. With NOS4A2, this outstanding novelist - "one of America's finest horror writers" (Time magazine); "a major player in 21st-century fantastic fiction" (Washington Post) - crafts his finest work yet. Disturbing, mesmerizing, and full of twisting thrills, Hill's phantasmagoric, devilishly playful masterpiece is a terrifying high-octane ride.
©2013 Joe Hill (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
"Quite simply the best horror writer of our generation, Joe Hill’s masterful storytelling is on full display in NOS4A2. It is by turns terrifying and hilarious, horrifying and full of heart, and relentlessly compelling." (Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet)
"Fascinating and utterly engaging, this novel is sure to leave readers wanting more. One thing is for certain, however. After reading this book, readers will never hear Christmas carols in quite the same way again." (Library Journal, starred review)
"[A] new take on the fantasy-horror genre...Highly recommended." (The Sun Herald Sydney, Australia)
I did not like the main character’s thoughts, choices, and actions.
COMPARING JOE HILL TO STEPHEN KING:
Normally I would not want to compare Joe Hill (JH) to his father Stephen King (SK). But that’s the reason I bought this book. I wanted to see if Joe had his dad’s talent or style. So I am comparing them. When SK was talking to a group he said something about elevators breaking. Then with a grin and a gleam in his eye he said “so when you get on the elevator tonight...” He’s having fun scaring you. In SK’S book “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” the girl is lost in the woods and finds all these icky and gross things. She has to do undesirable boring chores. She trudges along, does the job, and hopes to be done soon. I loved her attitude, and I had hope - lots of hope.
Here, I did not feel hope and I did not enjoy Vic’s attitude (the main character in In NOS4A2). She makes bad decisions. She has poor judgment. She frequently sounds mean (although part of that might be the narrator’s fault). In her conflicts with bad guys she is beaten up, injured, limping, suffering and then briefly does some lucky thing to get away or hurt the guy. And her life is worse than it was before. I want to root for someone. I didn’t feel that here. It was not fun.
JH says he is not a fan of Dudley Do-Right heroes. I’m sure many readers will appreciate that. But the way it’s done in this book is not for me. Another way to put it: SK has fun with his stories. JH beats you up.
Another example. In SK’s “It,” Bill rides like the wind on his bike yelling Hi Ho Silver - Away (or something like that). When Vic rides her bike, bats hurt her, something slips, the bike loses a part, she is injured, she hurts.
I was frustrated when the heroine tries to convince herself that she is insane. She doesn’t believe the truth when Maggie tells her something. She sees the bridge but refuses to believe it exists. She knows the bridge takes her to where lost things are. So when it takes her to Bing, a bad guy, why does she think he’s a good guy? Why does she turn her back on him and get taken? She does not do smart things.
Hunter an FBI agent says “Manx is dead.” Vic repeatedly tells Hunter that Manx is alive and kidnaped her son. That conversation was repeated soooo many times during the last part of the book. I was tired of hearing it.
I was disappointed with the main crisis/fight with Manx. I wanted to see him get it, to see him suffer. I did not have a winning feeling. I would have liked that whole section different.
Some good guys get killed which made me mad. Life is too short to read depressing books.
I loved Mustachio25's review (an Amazon reviewer). He lists several gaps in JH’s logic and plotting. Two of those are: “Why does Manx's magical car heal him, while McQueen's magical bike doesn't? If Vic can replace her bike with a motorcycle to use her inscape, why didn't Manx substitute a prison laundry van for his Rolls-Royce and drive off to Christmasland?”
I did not like the narrator Kate Mulgrew. The adjectives that came to mind as I listened to her: angry, loud, demanding, harsh, strident, irritating, jarring. Too many characters sounded mean. If I were reading, the characters would have sounded different . My favorite narrator Frank Muller had a curiosity and wonder in his voice. That was missing here.
The character Maggie stammered which is ok to read. But listening to the narrator stammer was annoying. I would have preferred she soften and shorten the stammering.
Genre: paranormal suspense thriller
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
I usually don't rush out to buy the newest hot book to come out. I let those I am following read first before I chance my money. Having loved Heart Shaped Box and Horns, I knew I did not need to wait on someone else to tell me this would be good. In my humble opinion this is the best Joe Hill has written yet.
I am sure JH gets tired of being compared to his dad, but having recently read "IT" by Stephen King I can not resist. I mentioned in that review that even though King throws a lot weird stuff and mean monsters at you, it's all just cover, to introduce you to some great flawed characters that you fall in love with. Hill has lots of weird things and mean scary monsters, but he mostly builds characters. You are scared, not because of the monsters, but because you don't want anything bad to happen to the people you have fallen in love with. All though I am not sure that I like the fact that in the book "It" you learn to hate clowns and then Hill ruins Christmas in this novel.
The bad guy is described as a bald Keith Richards with big blue veins covering his bald head. You learn in this book that: The blood of a red headed woman is three degrees colder then a normal woman. A cop does not want to pin a murder on the Gingerbread Man, cause word on the street is "You can't catch the gingerbread man".
Warning: The main difference between Hill and King, is that Hill uses very foul language, a lot worse then his dad would think of and if you read Heart-Shaped Box then you know that Hill is fixated on Blow J@@s. I hate to sound chauvinistic, but the stuff that comes out of the mouths of the women in this book made me cringe. I grew up around foul language and have worked around over the road truck drivers most of my life. If you were alright with Heart-Shaped box then you will be okay with this. Like I said I loved both books.
I hate nepotism, so I am in the position to dislike this author, but the talent of Joe Hill can not be denied. I have all his books in First Edition and plan on collecting everything he writes.
Now if you are not tired of me gushing like a little girl, let me remark on the narrator. I am in total awe of Kate Mulgrew. If you have read the hardback, you still want to get this audio. Nobody could have done a better job. She even does male voices better then some males. I am hoping like Muller and King were, so will be the team of Hill and Mulgrew. I don't know what they paid her but it was not enough.
A shorter version...it was to long in the middle, I personally did not like the profanity, dysfunctional families, pedophile suggestions, and the rape by Bing was gross. I struggled to get through this audible book...several times I was going to fast forward just to be done because, the story dragged on and on.
No. I am a fan of S.King have listened or read all of his books. I like this genre just couldn't wrap my head around where J. Hill was going with this story. In some parts holes were left in the story and in other parts holes were filled in to the point that it was overflowing and unnecessary.
Tone and diction were fine...but for me the male and female character voices were blurred Vic sounded masculine and Lou and Max were high pitched.
The redeeming qualities were seeing the results of bad parenting and dysfunctional families can lead to another generation of bad parenting and dysfunctional family.
Vic was clearly the hero, it was good to listen to her redeem herself at the end after years of a tortured life with drugs, sex, and demons. She admits to her part of over-reacting to her parents behavior towards her and that she wasn't a good mother when she abandoned her son (Bruce Wayne). This was my first Joe Hill book...I may try again.
I was going to give the over all story 1 star but after listening to the author at the end explain his rationale for writing the story I moved up to 2 stars. The preview I listen to sounded okay. Reading the comments...most were positive and only a few were negative so I made my purchase because the positive comments out-weighted the negative comments. However in this case the negative comments were on target with my thoughts on this audible book.
I know that I'm in the minority, but I did not enjoy the experience of listening to this at all. Most of the voices for the characters were fine, but the description of the main antagonist's voice did not match how Kate Mulgrew chose to act it out. I found the main protagonist unlikable for most of it, and the descriptions of most everything dragged on too long. At the 1/4 point, I was ready for it to be over. It could have been made into two books very easily. I don't normally stop a book or audiobook and walk away entirely, but the deciding factor were some of the over-the-top disturbing descriptions that were given. I'm no stranger to horror, but this was too much.
I don't usually rush out for all the "best sellers", but give each intriguing book/author a look. I have found many diamonds in the rough.
It is so refreshing to come across a writer that writes to the, "smart reader". This was my first Joe Hill book and I was surprised and impressed by the caliber of his writing, he has definitely inherited his fathers, (Stephen King's), ability to spin a spooky yarn that takes you on a gripping roller coaster ride.
A fast pace, combined with well constructed characters provoked some thrilling and unexpected intensity. From the mystical heroine to the horrible villains, the characters have such depth that they draw you right into their dreadful altered reality. For the thriller/horror seeker this scary and suspenseful read will not disappoint.
A 115 year old convicted kidnapper/murderer, awakens from a 5 year coma,.. dies,.. gets embalmed, and then....walks out of the hospital...
As an act of revenge against the young girl who aided in his conviction years earlier, he and his creepy, murdering minion, snatch her young son with the intent of taking him into a bone chilling, fantasy world; "Christmasland". He would only be one of the many.
A brave, mystical, but also, damaged heroin must use all of her recourses and abilities to try to save her son from a dammed eternity.
The narrator did a great job with the up and down pace and the different character voices. I will be looking for Hills next book with the hope that he can keep up the highly exciting, first rate plot lines.
Only mildly creepy with a prolonged story almost as if it was originally a novella that was lenngttthennned to become a novel.
I struggled to get through it, finally quit it most of the way through.
Guitarist with The Prudes
I tried and gave up......I tried very hard to believe in the characters but I simply found myself wanting to find a better book.
At first I was a bit put off by the title (and even the cover art) thankfully my interest in the story line overrode my predilections and I purchased it. Really glad I did! Now, I'm no fan of obscenities, but there are a few in this book and I must say that of all I've heard that didn't need the foul language or over did it, this book carried it well and frankly would have been missing something without it.
Honest review here so listen up. This guy, Joe Hill, he's a master. I'm no writer so I can't really describe just how good he is, but it wasn't like reading or even listening to a story. It was like living it. Like... I don't know but it was fantastic! And Kate, Oh man! Her narration has truly set the high bar. I had not heard her narrate before so let me say, there's a new standard to which I hold narrators to and its Kate Mulgrew!You don't want to miss this.
Not sure...any readers of Stephen King will probably pick it up since it's written by his son, Joe Hill. There are also a few Dark Tower references scattered throughout that makes it entertaining.
No, I'll continue to read horror and science fiction. It just wasn't a good book. And to have good perspective, it's always good to read excellent works, the classics, and also terrible books. This just happened to land on the terrible end.
Anyone who can get their accent under control. Kate's accent was way too northern, or mid-western for my liking. By doing that, it "regionalizes" the characters. I'd like to have Kate reading a book like "Fargo", but not something like this where the characters are all cross-country, yet they sound like they're all from North Dakota. It takes the reader out of the story when the narrator's accent gets the best of them.
Disappointment. I didn't know what the story was about; however I hoped it would at least be decent. It was terrible. See below for details.
I was not impressed with "NOS4A2" and it was no where good as I thought it would be. Maybe I went into it with high expectations, yet I didn't really know what it was about so I can't really blame myself for not liking it or holding it to a certain standard. All things considered, I've already read Joe Hill's other two works: "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Horns", as well as a couple of short stories, and I can say that there are now three distinct elements that are consistent in all Joe Hill novels:
1. Dead animals, or the killing of animals
2. Music/pop culture references
I would also add the supernatural element; however I think this has become the genre that Hill is sticking with. In regard to writing style, one of dislikes to "NOS4A2" was the overuse of similes. Every page was just about scattered with similes, like sprinkles on a cupcake, they were everywhere and really took away from the story.
Regarding the story, and in the words of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons: Worst. Villain. Ever. The villain was terrible, unoriginal, lame, and had way too much dialogue. Imagine having a poorly scripted Bond villain that was inept at killing, terrorizing, or even being menacing, yet all he wanted to do was talk about all the "bad" things he was going to do or even worst: bore you with details from his own life.
The heroine wasn't much better. I'm not sure if it was from the poor excuses she made or if it was Hill's attempt at making her vulnerable and driven by regret, but she was certainly hard to root for. And I'm not talking about in an anti-hero kind of way. She was very unlikable and annoying.
Even the sidekicks were terrible. The heroine's sidekick was chocked full of comic book references that only made him seem too immature to do anything serious and the villainous sidekick was too cliche to expect him to do any harm. I can honestly say that there were no characters that kept my interest.
As for the plot, this was one of those books that you get half way through hoping it will get better. Spoiler alert: it didn't. Then you reach the point of no return and figure that if you've made it more than halfway means you might as well finish it. Like any B-movie, you have to at least see how it ends. And like any bad B-movie, "NOS4A2" did not disappoint.
If I were ever to re-read this book, I'd probably look back and think I was being a bit harsh in the review. Chances are, the only way I'd re-read this book is if they made it into a movie and I'd be curious to go back and see if the movie was any better than the book.
It's also worth pointing out that this book had way too many penis references. Not sure why they were needed because they certainly didn't add to the plot. Just saying - it was one too many for my liking.
There were also obligatory references made to his last two novels, as well as references made to his father's Dark Tower series. I failed to mention in my other reviews, that there was at least one DT reference made in each novel. This one had a handful. At some point I just wanted to roll my eyes and say "Joe, I get it. Stephen King is your dad and everyone loves his Dark Tower series. Just because you're related, you're allowed to do stuff like that, but lets not over do it."
Pros: not many...actually the last page was the only pro because I knew that meant that I was finally finished.
Cons: many. Way too many to bore with details.
Bottom line: bad story that was poorly executed with flimsy characters and cheap plot devices.
Careful editing might have reduced the slow pace of the story. It dragged out needlessly, sometimes seeming to imitate Stephen King's style, but without success.
Gratuitous obscenities. Gratuitous vulgarity. Gratuitous violence. It was as though the author set out to decide what behavior and images would be most repulsive, sickening, offensive, disgusting, or distasteful and, then, put it all into his book. The fantasy was not fantastic--it was unrelenting nightmare.
Yes. The narrator was not the problem. The problem was the story and the author's conception.
The whole book is flawed, and so are the characters. Even the main character was not a particularly pleasant person. Normally, that would not bother me. I've read many dark books with dark characters. But this one offers no relief from ignorance and bad judgment.
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