Review: Wow. When I decided I was ready to read my first Joe Hill novel, I went back and forth between this one and The Heart-Shaped Box, but so many people in my FB reading group raved about N0S4A2 that it was a natural first choice. I was NOT disappointed.
When I was younger, I read a few Stephen King’s (I’m sure Joe is so sick of those comparisons, despite his father’s brilliance), and I really enjoyed them. In fact, I most recently read Mr. Murder and I fully intend to read the sequel and then dive into (fill in the blank with ALL the Stephen King books). As you might already know, I’ve been a fan of Dean Koontz since I was a wee girl. Ok, a tween. But I digress…my point is, Joe Hill is somewhere amongst those two worlds (are they the same really?), and yet it felt very different.
It creeped me out. Not in a bad way. Not in a scared way. In a oh-my-god-why-am-I-seeing-creepy-fish-hook-toothed-childrens-faces-while-I’m-trying-to-sleep kind of a way. Truth be told, it’s been a few days, and I’m STILL thinking about it. Midway through two other completely non-creepy books…still thinking about it. And I don’t think it’s just because of the creepy kids. It’s because my brain devours ideas that venture outside the normal realm of possibility.
I LOVE paranormal stuff. I love stories that imbue the human brain with more power than we would normally consider rational. I like having the solid ground of surety shaken up sometimes. And I think a lot of times that is what suspense, thrillers, horror, fantasy, dystopian, etc., I think that’s what they do. They show us things that aren’t (or at least as far we know), but maybe, possibly, if you s-t-r-e-t-c-h your brain a little further than is comfortable, what could be. And those could be’s are not always pretty, sometimes they are f’ing terrifying. And that serves a purpose as well.
As much as I want to know everything, I find the idea that we don’t, maybe even can’t, know everything oddly comforting. Exciting. It’s hopeful, really. The idea that there are fewer limits than we realize. That there is more to discover. That infinity applies to possibilities, too. But also, it’s this idea that there are bad unknowns out there as well, and maybe if we explore them in fiction, we’ll somehow be more prepared to deal with the unexpected or maybe, given all these fictional perspectives, what DOES happen won’t seem as bad as what COULD happen.
Anyway, N0S4A2 was compelling, entertaining, unsettling, thought-provoking, and occasionally even funny. It is one of those books that, despite being a bit of a chunkster, felt neither too long nor long enough. The story was perfectly told, and yet…I miss it. I wish there was a sequel…oh wait, he did a mini-series of comic books called Wraith that are all about Manx’s adventures in Christmasland…
Huh. Well, I guess I’ll be venturing even further into the foreign lands of comic book world. Just as soon as I finish The Walking Dead. 😉