Book Review: ‘NOS4A2’ by Joe Hill

Read from June 29 to July 10, 2013 

This is the first Joe Hill novel I have read. I read and thoroughly enjoyed “Locke & Key” his highly acclaimed graphic novels series.

A lot of people have been raving about this book with 4 and 5 star ratings being bandied about so it was a natural choice for my first Joe Hill novel. I’m sorry to say that I was slightly disappointed, mainly due to all the rave reviews I have saw and partly due to what I felt was a story that was too drawn out and needed a good edit.

Before I jump into the negatives, I think I should address the positives since I did enjoy this book, despite the negatives. The one thing that I adore about Joe’s stories (well the two I have finished) is his use of magical objects in everyday life. For example, the keys in ‘Locke and Key’ and in this book, the bike, car and scrabble set that are more than what they appear. Added to this Joe invents a rule system on their use, kind of parallelling high fantasy magic systems. Characterisation is great also. They are very well-drawn and seem real and fallible.

But I felt this book was just too long. Three quarters the way through I just wanted it to be over already. The long drawn out road to that final confrontation, that you knew was bound to happen for hundreds of pages, did end up tiring me somewhat. Because of this I lost sympathy for the main character and the impact of the final scenes was a little lost.

Another negative (maybe only in my opinion) is the similarity to his fathers writing. Take away 20% of the characterisation, the magical objects and what you have is a Stephen King-by-numbers. Not the great Stephen King, but the drug-fuelled formulaic novels of yore. Sorry, but it did feel that way.

But apart from these gripes, still a worthwhile read. I’m reading ‘Horns’ next, so obviously I still have a lot of faith in Joe.


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