zaterdag 12 september 2015

Joe Hill: NOS4R2


This review is about my first novel by Joe Hill; NOS4R2.
The book has 686 pages and I got it at the Boekenfestijn. It was nominated for the 2013 Bram Stoker Award.

“Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.
Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”
Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.”

This is one creepy novel. At some points I felt very uncomfortable reading this.
It’s frightening, thrilling and even full of emotion at some points.

Vic’s inner battle is described amazingly. What part of it is her sanity/insanity? What was a delusion? What was ‘learned’ in therapy? What is part of the price she has to pay for her traveling?
I loved her relationship with Lou and Wayne. Vic is a complex person and she is very well depicted. Some of these parts about their relationships made emotional and that’s saying something for me and for a horror novel.
Vic is a very well realized character. As are Lou and Wayne. But Vic especially is very believable with her courage, her love and her flaws.

Manx is a horrible character because he believes he is right, he believes that he is helping these children and giving them a place where they can be truly happy. And these beliefs make him so creepy. He has depth rather than just being a bad man.
Bing, his assistant is even worse. My word he creeped me out. I felt so uncomfortable and almost humiliated reading his thoughts.

I loved Hill for making fun of clichés and referring to Doctor Who, Firefly and other SFF and Stephen King (his dad) classics.
It is a very well constructed novel. The story is creepy throughout and I like that. It’s not boring up to a point; this is creepy the whole time.

Overall, the book is a bit too long. Most events drag a bit too much and I think he should have shortened it a bit. Not much, but the middle section especially was a bit too slow.

There is one important inconsistency that really bugged me. People with these sorts of gifts need a certain vehicle for their gift to work. But Vic’s bike gets thrown away. And later Vic can use a motorcycle to get access to her Shorter-Way-Bridge. That is not right, she should have lost this power or she should have found the bike again. This is just too convenient for the writer.

What makes this a special horror novel is that it tackles mental illness. And I am Joe Hill very thankful for that.

Happy reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for something completely different.

Creepy novel and healthy snack.