Now this is not a post begging congratulating me on finishing a book. While I deserve it, because I was a Big Boy and read the book all on my own, the fact is that I can actually read, and pretty well. I just, well, I don’t read a lot. Books that is. I got on a kick for a while where I was reading graphic novels and then some oddball specialty and art books, but book-books were hard to get through. It took darned near a year but I finally got through with Joe Hill‘s NOS4A2. The book came out several years ago and had been well received and I remember getting the paperback I read for my mother for Christmas a few years back. Once they decided to create a television show based on the book I figured, well, darn it, I suppose I should read the darned book.
I had wanted to for a while I just, like I said, I don’t read a lot.
Because of reasons.
I mean, the big one is that I read at bed and I fall asleep in bed so, you know, it’s a conundrum.
It took a while but like I say, I read the book.
For those that don’t know, the book is about a young woman with a gift for ‘finding’ things, though at a cost to her physical health. This puts her on a collision course with a man who fancies himself a sort of Pied Piper of joy, taking children to a land where it is always Christmas all the time that exists only in his mind. As he takes these stolen children to Christmasland though he steals their vitality with the help of a diabolical car he drives, turning the children into horrifying wraiths that can only live in his imaginary world.
It’s interesting how similar Joe Hill writes to his father. Not exact, mind you, but similar. He has a way of tuning in to dark moments and amplifying them. A way of picking out details and amplifying the blood hidden there. I also think that this isn’t a perfect novel. It’s creepy, to be sure but I can’t say that, even as well done as he is, the villain of it, Charlie Manx, is compelling. He’s weird and creepy but by not know what makes him tick we never really connect with why we care. Yeah, what he does is awful,, and it’s scary, but HE isn’t scary. His associate is but he doesn’t make up for what Manx is lacking. That isn’t to say though that this isn’t an effective book because it is.
There’s an air of sadness and loss that permeates the book. Hill deals with some of the same themes of abuse and addiction that his father does but that isn’t to say he’s walking in his father’s shadow, just that you see some of the same things lurking in them. I love that there’s a price to pay in using these dark gifts but that the price is always worth it. I love that there’s a lot of darkness and muck in the people in the book and THAT is the beauty here, that these feel not quite like REAL people but very close to real people. The horror is in the forefront but it’s not bigger than the damaged people trying to find the strength to do what they need to do.
There’s also a lot of great imagery here, a lot of great setpieces and I am curious to see how they translate to image because it’s a very visual book. One of the things I love best abou the book is that Hill had the guts to include one last little bit of story within the ding dang About The Type section. That’s pretty awesome.
I disagree with some language choices, with some directions on character, and with how some of the finale plays out but all in all it’s a solid book. It’s a good book. It’s a really creepy book. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting, especially judging it by the name. It’s a unique take on a familiar subject with some very interesting choices along the way and if you’re looking for something to read over the winter months then friend-o, NOS4A2 is a great book to pass the time.
Heck, it was good enough to get me to read the whole ding dang thing and that’s saying a lot!