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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Lynne 01-13-14
    Lynne 01-13-14
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    "Gratuitously Negative"
    What would have made NOS4A2 better?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Joe Hill’s story?

    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.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Kate Mulgrew?

    Yes. The narrator was not the problem. The problem was the story and the author's conception.


    What character would you cut from NOS4A2?

    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.


    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Cuayhoga Falls, OH, United States 12-09-13
    Jennifer Cuayhoga Falls, OH, United States 12-09-13 Listener Since 2009

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Buy it!!"

    You know those audio books that you love so much that you start writing the glowing review in your head while doing crunches at the gym when you've barely reached part 2? The kind of book that has you lowering your headphones and casting a withering glare for only the most dire of interruptions?? The kind you finish in record time, pausing only to bathe and even then skipping conditioner and all but the major body parts??? Well this is that book, and if you enjoy nerd humor, awesome characters, a seriously creepy narrator and an even creepier Christmas madman then buy it!!- and listen allllll the way to the end....

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-06-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-06-13 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

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    "XMAS SCR4U"

    Audible released Joe Hill's "NOS4A2" (2013) with great fanfare. The book was a featured pre-order. It was on the top crawl. I kept getting it as a "We thought you'd like" suggestion from Audible's rather persistent algorithm. I looked at the description and thought, "I don't want to listen to this. At all." One of my worst childhood memories is of a trip to Santa's Village in Illinois. I road the Gravitron; the ride spun and the floor dropped out, leaving riders pinned to the wall. I spent the rest of the day in a dank restroom, propped up against a white porcelain toilet, throwing up. I felt so completely alone and disoriented for what seemed like a very long time.

    The Audible reviews of "NOS4A2" are laudatory, and Janet Mullins of the New York Times wrote a wonderful review, "Villainous Christmas and Biker Chicks" (April 28, 2013). I obviously gave in, and went ahead and listened At the back of my mind, I hoped to exorcise the memory of that horrible day.

    Hill's characters are finely drawn. Vic McQueen, who has a very special coveted bridge, takes on an ageless Charles Talent Manx , the owner of the 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Vic bests Manx once, but at a terrible personal cost. Manx is imprisoned, but eventually makes his way out, hell bent on revenge.

    Manx is not only the owner of the Wraith, he is the founder of Christmasland. Every day is Christmas, and the children he has chosen to live there eat cotton candy all day, drink hot cocoa, and never age. Their parents are disposed of by Manx' Renfield (Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1897), Bing - after Bing plays with them a few days.

    My favorite character is Vic's rescuer, Lou. Carmody. Lou is a fat comic book geek who happens to come riding by on his motorcycle after Vic's first escape from Manx. Kate Mulgrew's voice for Carmody is right. By the time the book was over, I wished Carmody was working at my local garage, fixing cars.

    NOS4A2 really chilled me, although admittedly, I am more susceptible to this particular horror/fantasy novel than most. The book did not make my long ago trip to Santa's Village more bearable, though. It sharpened the many rowed teeth of that memory.

    At the end of the book, Hill himself discusses his writing processes, and how he created the book. Hill loves audio books, and he explains why, and why he chose Mulgrew's to perform this book. He mentions there are some drawings in the text version of NOS4A2, which made me wish I had the time to actually sit down with a copy.

    I suppose that I should mention that the author's real name is Joe Hillstrom King. Yes, he is novelist Stephen King and novelist Tabitha King's son. hill references some famous King places, like Derry, Maine. Hill's NOS4A2 invites comparison, but I am not doing that here: Hill has his own strong voice and unique style.

    [if you found this review helpful, please let me know by pressing the helpful button. Thanks.]

    36 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Not from Gualala Practically Paradise, CA 05-19-13
    Paula Not from Gualala Practically Paradise, CA 05-19-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Thank goodness for Audible's return policy"

    Gave up after Part 1. I was so looking forward to listening all weekend as I worked in the yard but, alas, couldn't do it. Very good reader though.

    For my taste, the story jumped around too much. A little jumping eh, OK, but Mr. Hill was all over the map. Literally.

    Hmmmm, maybe I'm just not a fan of magical characters with superpowers. If you are, like the bulk of the reviewers, you'll probably be quite happy.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    baby boomer 03-10-15
    baby boomer 03-10-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pronunciation!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Haverhill is pronounced Have-rill ! I don't understand why the narrator isn't given help on the correct pronunciation.


    What could Joe Hill have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I liked the book but it felt like a mashup of his father's earlier books. A little more originality is in order.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Aside from the incorrect pronunciations, the narrator was ok.


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

    Strangely, nothing. As a survivor from the "Old Yella dog must always die and you must cry" movies, I was unmoved by the death of Boomer.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 12-19-14
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 12-19-14 Member Since 2010

    MTF

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    "Too familiar territory"

    I got this book because I have enjoyed many Stephen King novels, and this story seemed similar. The first 15 minutes were great, and then I quickly grew bored. What makes many Stephen King books so good is the way the reader cares about everyday people before the creepiness and supernatural kick in. Thirty years ago, I may have liked this, but I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had read this before, and I quit halfway through the first part. The novel was too long for me to wait and hope it picked up. Maybe it did, but I didn't care to wait.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jesse NY 06-16-13
    Jesse NY 06-16-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Good book. Insane narration."

    I enjoyed this one a lot. I chose to listen to it rather than read it because I figured it would be a nice long book for my daily commute, and I didn't want to fork out the wad of cash for the hardcover. It was read by none other than "Captain Janeway" and her narration was a unique and somewhat tiring experience. You know how normally at the beginning of an audio book it says "read for you by so-and-so?" Well, this one said "Performed by Kate Mulgrew" and holy hell it was a performance all right.

    She turned every single character into a buffoonish cartoon caricature. It was like Gollum meets Spongebob. She can do voices, I'll give her that. But her delivery is something else. I don't even know how to describe it, other than to say that I will never buy another audio book with her narrating. To me, a good reader is transparent; you focus on the story, not who is reading it to you. In this case, I found myself constantly yanked out of the story by some over-the-top "acting" or whatever you want to call it.

    The story though...the story itself overcame the problems I had with Kate, and really sucked me in. It's been a while since I spent every spare second I had with earbuds glued to my ears because I couldn't stop listening. The characters were great, (except that one character had a stutter and Kate really liked to lay into that) the pacing was good, and I will never listen to Christmas songs in quite the same way again. I'm very glad Stephen King's son didn't decide to become an accountant or something.

    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kylie 05-30-15
    Kylie 05-30-15 Member Since 2009
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    "Kate Mulgrew read excellently, the story was boring"

    I thought Kate Mulgrew was an excellent narrator, but I chose the story expecting it to be scary. It was far too long, dragging on with unnecessary descriptions, and the author seemed obsessed with giving overly literary and flowery descriptions of gore and injuries. There were dozens and dozens of people getting killed and injured in gruesome ways, and the main purpose for writing the book seemed to be for the author to be able to write bizarre metaphors for each injury and describe it in every gory detail. It became incredibly boring and really got in the way of the plot, which dragged on over 20 odd years. Wouldn't recommend it.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean YUKON, OK, United States 01-02-14
    Sean YUKON, OK, United States 01-02-14 Member Since 2011

    Netflix + Grill

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    "A gripping tale, but terrible narration."

    Joe Hill might be edging his dad out in the creepy story genre.

    This story was weird, crazy, eerie, and disturbing. I loved the concept of In-scapes and the characters Hill introduces here. If you like Stephen King, this is right up your alley. The little crossovers between the Hill and King universes are fun for veterans and newcomers alike.

    In regards to narration, I'm not sure why Joe Hill enjoys Kate Mulgrew so much. Her performance was dumpy, homespun, and grating. I fought through Part One; I struggled to concentrate on the story while actively ignoring how dopey the "voices" sound. Vic and Charlie Manx aren't really bad, but Lou, Wayne, Vic's parents, Maggie, the numerous extras, etc. all sound like awful Fargo imitators. Her "Bing" voice, in particular, felt like she was trying to imitate Patrick from Spongebob while simultaneously doing her best Lenny voice from Of Mice and Men. Based on this book, I'd never listen to another Kate Mulgrew performance if I could help it.

    If can you bear Mulgrew's performance, the payoff is a great story and a fascinating universe I'm eager to see more of.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer FAIR PLAY, MISSOURI, United States 10-15-13
    Amazon Customer FAIR PLAY, MISSOURI, United States 10-15-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I was expecting so much better"
    What would have made NOS4A2 better?

    Definitely less cruelty.


    What was most disappointing about Joe Hill’s story?

    This was my first purchase of a Joe Hill novel.......probably my last. I love frightening...I love mystery....I love scare my socks off. I do not love having my stomach churn and having to turn off my player for it to settle down. Describing cruelty for entertainment purposes is not my cup of tea. If you enjoy this sort of thing, that's your choice and this would be a good one for you. I, however, will not be listening to the second and third segments. The first third was enough for me. Also, the narration left a lot to be desired. Too many of his voices sounded alike. They all sounded like they had a severe mental problem.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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