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NOS4A2 Audiobook

NOS4A2: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2013 - Christmasland is a place where every day is Christmas morning and every night is Christmas Eve. This might not sound like fertile ground for a horror novel, but rest assured; just as there's nothing funny about Pennywise the Dancing Clown in Stephen King's It, there's nothing merry about Christmasland in NOS4A2. Joe Hill tells the story of decrepit child thief Charlie Manx, who travels the country in his Rolls Royce Wraith taking mistreated kids to Christmasland, where they live happily forever playing games like "bite-the-smallest" and "scissors-for-the-drifter". The only girl who managed to escape his clutches and put Manx in prison for life finds that even Manx's death can't keep him from his quest to make sure every mistreated child is taken to Christmasland. As eerie as a Bing Crosby album played at half speed, NOS4A2 is a thoroughly creepy and compulsively readable supernatural thriller. Kate Mulgrew shines as narrator, turning in a spot-on performance as Victoria McQueen, a tough-as-nails if emotionally frail heroine. —Michael, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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....

NOS4A2

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (8525 )
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4.2 (7925 )
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4.4 (7930 )
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  •  
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 05-25-13
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 05-25-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yes its five stars - and worth every one of them."

    Joe Hill has written an amazing story about a young Victoria with a talent to use her bicycle to find lost things. Unfortunately, Vic finds some things she really isn't looking for. Vic meets many memorable and well developed characters as she puts a child abductor in jail. I don't want to say too much about the story because I'm afraid that I'll spoil your enjoyment of allowing the story to unfold for you. Let me say that this is a riveting story. When you're finished I think you'll understand why I'm not giving out too many details.

    Now, let me say that Kate Mulgrew is every bit as amazing and awesome as Joe Hill's story. If you don't care for the story, listening to Kate Mulgrew's performance alone is worth the credit. Bravo Ms. Mulgrew, bravo.

    NOS4A2 is a great experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    31 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Baxter, MN, United States 05-26-13
    Kathryn Baxter, MN, United States 05-26-13
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    "Not for me"

    This book was completely out of my genre ( have listened to a few Stephen king that i didn't mind) and I don't think this was a very good experience for me. I do not have sensitive skin and I usually don't get offended but the language mixed in with this story was to the point of disgusting me. I ound it borderline vulgar and I was starting the constant eye roll and hearing the voice in my head go..'seriously? How many times have we said that body part now? People don't really talk like that do they? ' It was just..gross. I thought it took an extremely long time to get thru this book and I have istened to some 30 hour long ones and it didn't hold my attention just made me want to get thru it. I did not find the narrator great or teriffic but nerve grating with her raspy overacting. Was not a pleasant experience for me.

    45 of 63 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Chicago, IL, United States 10-16-13
    Jane Chicago, IL, United States 10-16-13 Member Since 2015
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    "I wanted it to be over."

    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.

    OTHER THINGS:
    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.

    ANOTHER REVIEWER:
    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?”

    NARRATOR:
    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

    28 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jackie Lithonia, GA, United States 06-29-13
    Jackie Lithonia, GA, United States 06-29-13
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    "No don't do it! Read the 1 and 2 star comments"
    What would have made NOS4A2 better?

    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.


    Has NOS4A2 turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    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.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    20 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    juli Hamilton, ON, Canada 10-04-15
    juli Hamilton, ON, Canada 10-04-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Stopped halfway"

    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.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bartonville, TX 05-06-13
    Susan Bartonville, TX 05-06-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding Symphony of Horror"

    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. 

    30 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-12-15 Member Since 2016
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    "I don't understand the reviews!"

    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.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul New York, NY, United States 07-24-13
    Paul New York, NY, United States 07-24-13 Member Since 2007
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    "I just don't get it"

    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.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 01-13-16
    Jason 01-13-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Never mind the cover art"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin SPRING, TX, United States 04-04-15
    Kevin SPRING, TX, United States 04-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Worst. Villain. Ever."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Has NOS4A2 turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Mulgrew?

    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.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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
    3. Tattoos

    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.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful

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