Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Title: Strange Weather
Author: Joe Hill
Pages: 448
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction
Source: Free ARC from William Morrow

Rating: 4 stars

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from William Morrow via Edelweiss. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Summary: Strange Weather is a collection of four novellas by Joe Hill. Each story is entirely unique. The first story, “Snapshot”, is about a young boy who accidentally finds himself in the path of a man with a camera capable of taking a lot more than your picture. In “Loaded”, a reporter who once lost a loved one to a racist police shooting follows the story of the supposed hero of a mall shooting, and what she discovers will change her life forever. “Aloft” traps an anxious young man in the clouds, and in the final story, “Rain”, the clouds turn dark and deadly.

Review: Prior to this, I’d only read NOS4A2, and I was crazy about it. It is one of a handful of books that I still flash back to now and again, particularly when I’m struggling to fall asleep. And now every time I see a sign proclaiming our lovely state of Maine “Vacationland”, my mind converts it to Christmasland. So, it’s probably fair to say I was excited (AHHHH!!!!) and had some high expectations.

While I wasn’t disappointed in the least, it also wasn’t at all what I expected. And really, that’s perfectly fine. Joe Hill is not a one trick pony and he is not Stephen King the 2nd. He is an excellent storyteller with a full tool box and a stellar imagination. What I think I love most about Strange Weather is the range, going from a completely realistic, yet horrifying, scenario in one story, to jumping out of an airplane and being caught by a cloud that isn’t a cloud at all in another. While only one story could be considered “political”, all four stories hit on relevant current concerns: aging and memory loss, gun control and racial profiling, anxiety and fear, and gender/sexuality and climate change/apocalypse. I love the mix of practical relevance and fantastical events.

My favorite story was “Loaded” because it hit home for me, and I felt like the subject matter was treated with an equal hand. Frightfully applicable given the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. While I’m not sure it is appropriate to call it horror, it is horrifying because a) it happens here all the time and b) we continue to do nothing about it. Nothing is scarier than the monster walking amongst us.

All of the stories were interesting, some were provocative, and some were really out there. While I enjoyed them each individually, collectively they are truly wonderful.

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