Monday, 20 April 2015

Reviewing the evidence - NOS4R2 (aka NOS4A2)

Title: NOS4R2 (NOS4A2)
Author: Joe Hill
Genre: Horror
 
A few starting notes:

I'm a big fan of Joe Hill. I read Heart Shaped Box, Horns, and 20th Century Ghosts before I'd ever read anything by Hill's father (some little-known author named Stephen King.) His writing is just amazing. I'm not over-hyping, this dude has some talent.

NOS4R2 is the British name of Hill's novel NOS4A2, probably due to the fact that pronunciation is different on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and the publishers wanted the pun on Nosferatu to still make sense. It's nice for things to be Anglicised (I wish that phrase was Britishised or something, Anglicised is far too centred on England, and I don't live in England) instead of Americanised for a change.

Premise:

Sometimes people can create their own worlds in their head - what if it didn't always stay in their head?
 
Vic McQueen has a bridge. A bridge which finds things for her. She hops on her Raleigh bike, and looks for what's been lost.
 
Then there's the Wraith. Charles Talent Manx. He takes children to Christmasland, where it's Christmas every day - except they're not quite...children, anymore.
 
When Vic and Manx cross paths, things are going to be interesting. And bad. Very bad.
 
Best bits:

Firstly, I have to point out the quality of the writing. Joe Hill wraps you in the rhythm and tone of the words, and carries you along. You're a passenger on this ride, and it leaves you enchanted.
 
The plot is considered and well thought out, lining up its intricacies to slot them all neatly together. Yet nothing feels forced. Due to Hill's light and controlled touch, there's none of the awkwardness which may occur with other writers.
 
Likewise, the characters are believable and complex people, who need little more than ink, page and reader to come inexplicably to life. I particularly like the Scrabble-obsessed Maggie Leigh. She's incredible.

Not so great bits:

If you're sensitive, or wary, about the following: abuse (of several types,) swearing, addiction, cancer, mental illness, child abduction, self-harm and graphic violence - then I advise that you are cautious when it comes to this book. I may even have left some potentially traumatic issues out. But, it's to Hill's credit that it doesn't feel overwhelmed by the issues which he handles so matter-of-factly, yet so deftly and competently. This could so easily have become a leaden weight around the plot, but Hill manages to pull it off.

Also, unless you're OK with adding a taint to all your childhood memories, I suggest you don't read this around Christmas.

Verdict:

I cannot emphasise enough how amazing and masterful this book is. Any horror fan who has not yet discovered Joe Hill (and any who has) needs to get hold of a copy of this. You won't regret it. I would give it 5 stars any day.

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