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NOS4A2 by Joe Hill


by Joe Hill

Other authors: Gabriel Rodriguez (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,8322403,365 (4.02)209
Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photography, 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.… (more)
  1. 30
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  2. 21
    The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: Well: Time-traveling serial killer powered by unexplained forces. You'll see the comparison in many reviews. Shining Girls gets a more mixed reaction, and is unconventional in its structure and uncomfortable violence, but is worth looking into for fans. (The audiobook is fantastic, with a full cast of readers for every character.)… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
This novel blew me away. The audiobook version is nearly twenty hours long. I consumed it in a little under four days.

I couldn't stop. I WANTED to stop but I just couldn't make myself. I wanted to stop because this is a book drenched in sadness, fear and sacrifice.

I was living in the shadow of how bad things were going to get but I couldn't move away, not because I was fascinated by the evil in the book in some kind of ghoulish, car-crash-rubber-necking way, but because the book never extinguished the hope that good might win out and I passionately wanted that to happen.

The book also never left me in any doubt that there would be a toll. In this book, nothing comes for free, there is always a toll.

Perhaps it was because I listened to this book during long drives, but I began to feel that the book was the Rolls Royce Silver Wraith and that I was trapped inside it, paying for my ride by having my emotions twisted until the only option was to cry.

The book is magnificently performed by Kate Mulgrew, who I fell a little in love with when she was Captain Janeway, lighting up the otherwise unremarkable "Star Trek: Voyager" series. She brings power and passion to the voices of her characters and performs every moment of the twenty hour read with complete focus, giving the book the impact it deserves.

The book reminds me of the very best of Stephen King's writing: "IT" or "The Shining", but Joe Hill is not a Stephen King mimic, his style is all his own.

At a time when many horror/thriller books try to cram all the action into a few days to keep the experience intense, Joe Hill has produced a book that spans decades and is all the more intense for that. We see the main character, Vic, short for Victoria, grow from a young girl through to an adult mother and share all her traumas along the way. We watch Bing, a simple-minded man with an instinct for evil, evolve into someone truly monstrous over years and years. We see characters, once full of youth and promise, fall from grace and become the flawed adults so many of us are.

Joe Hill understands that good heroes have flaws but the best heroes have their flaws worsened by the heroics they perform. Vic's heroics are slowly eroding her sanity. Maggie's heroics cost her the thing she values most, using words well. In Hill's world, "with great power, comes great sacrifice".

The magical/supernatural elements of this story are handled perfectly. The iconography is original and powerful and builds upon itself as the novel progresses, The interior logic of the magic is remorseless. The magic itself remains sufficiently ambiguous to allow either doubt or belief.

The book is stronger for the fact that the "real world" is just as threatening as anything the supernatural has to offer, and by the fact that all actions have consequences. This is not a story where the heroine can sustain damage, then cast a spell or change shape, and all is well again. In Hill's world, scars are forever.

What makes Hill's world worthwhile is the love and the loyalty that the flawed, scarred, people offer to each other. They give meaning to the sacrifices.

You've probably gathered by now that I'm not going to talk about the plot, even though its a good one. I'm sure that, in a years time, I will have forgotten elements of the plot. I'm equally sure that I will remember the people and the emotions that they provoked.

My advice: let Kate Mulgrew read this book to you, but don't start it until you have many hours to spare and a private place to cry.

( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
It's been over a month since I read NOS4A2, and I'm glad I waited this long to write a review, because I'm now much more aware of how little of an impact the book had on me.

This is the kind of book that reminds me to not be pretentious about the fact that I read a lot. Most books aren't better than most TV shows, which aren't better than most movies, which aren't better than most music, and so on and so forth. There's a certain prestige associated with a big bookshelf, but literature is just like any other art form. Some books are amazing, and some books feature absurdly elaborate descriptions of man boobs written by a man who writes with a pseudonym to avoid being too tethered to his famous dad's books while at the same time constantly making weird, clunky allusions to his famous dad's books.

I don't like to set books down and then forget about them. I like to have something to reflect on, some idea worth careful consideration, anything at all worth engaging. But with NOS4A2, all that's stuck with me is the anger I felt when the stupid fat guy ended up with the hot cop FOR NO REASON AT ALL HE MUST HAVE JUST NOT WANTED TO WRITE SEPARATE ENDINGS FOR THE CHARACTERS AND SAID AW FUCK IT MAYBE THEY LOVE EACH OTHER I MEAN THEY BOTH LIKE SUPER HEROES RIGHT?

If you have time you want to kill, this book will kill the time. The time will be dead, having served no purpose. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
[reread once, Dec. 2017]

If I EVER see a '38 black Rolls-Royce Wraith driving towards me, I may piss my pants. And if I heard A Christmas song coming out of it - well stick a fork in me because I'd be done. The cause of death: scared shitless.

Every now and again, a book has the power to haunt you, while taking a part of something so commonplace or mundane and changing it, so that you know you'll never view that something quite the same again. Rolls Royce's are such beautiful cars. This one? It is like "Christine" on meth. Are we looking at Dracula revamped? I guess you could say that, but you'll have to read this, to really find out how much deeper it goes. I will certainly never see Christmas the same way, for a very long time.

Joe Hill is brilliant when it comes to creating a world or an inscape. His rich, vivid settings and ability to pull the reader right into a scene are reasons he is among the best in class. As a horror writer, he has a knack for taking something wonderful and magic, and turning it into a creep show. His characters come to life on the page because of the level of detail he adds. It's easy to feel their pain, understand their motivations, view their scars, and know their strengths. And how they're woven together is a beautiful tapestry. Whether it's a novel, a short story, or a comic book, Joe is known for having quite the knack for sucking in his reader. He knows his audience, and he plays to them. In a VERY good way!

Hill has been pretty busy the last few years, writing up a storm- 20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and Horns, & establishing himself as a respected, successful writer of horror fiction, picking up at least eleven literary awards to date. Although his career has been relatively brief, he has, with NOS4A2, grown up to a level where he can glare, eye-to-eye, with the best of contemporary horror writers, even that guy across the table at Christmas dinner.

From a writing critique standpoint, I only have good things to say about this book. Because of the lasting impact this book will undoubtedly have on me, it may well become a novel I have to reread, every few years. But also because this book is what I think the best of horror looks like: riveting, captivating, transporting, creepy, chilling, consuming, and rife with dry wit.

Character development is one of Hill's strong suits. Every character introduced is fleshed out well. There are no small parts in his novels. Each person is an important piece to the puzzle. What I love best, especially in this novel, is how he makes Vic, who thinks of herself as a "bad mom", very likeable. You start off really getting her, wondering what kind of woman she'll grow up to be, and then wanting to be friends with that woman. And even though you may not like her actions, & find them to be questionable, still, you root for her. She was flawed in every possible way, but she still almost demanded us to root for her.
Other characters, like her parents, Lou, Tabitha, Wayne, and Maggie don't really even take a backseat to Vic. You root for them too. I think that's one of the most difficult tasks as a writer, and Hill is always up to the challenge. One of the most interesting bits about this story is that in many books like it, the main character will insist that their story or special ability is real, or will likely sound crazy, trying to get everyone else around them to believe them. Hill turns this on its head and gives us a much more realistic result: the poor soul experiencing these unnatural things repeatedly has to try to figure out whether she is certifiably insane or not. Rather than trying to convince everyone else this stuff is really happening, she has to convince herself. It makes for a very satisfying read and makes her that much more sympathetic.

Another thing I would like to mention is that I ****loved**** the fact that Vic loves a guy who is obese - and Lou (the obese guy) is not a loser - he is heroic and brave and a good father and he loves Vic right back.. and that almost never happens in books,let alone real life.

And I have to give props to the man sneaking in little nods to his own friends and family. They're small, but they're there. His father, Stephen King, is referenced a few times in the book, one pertaining to Mid-World and the other to Pennywise's Circus. Connecting Christmasland in this book to The Dark Tower series is both fun and genius. In addition, Hill gives mention to Twitter, Neil Gaiman (Coraline), Shawshank prison, Derry, Maine, and Amanda Palmer within NOS4A2's pages, which, if you follow Hill on Twitter, you know he has interaction with this famous couple on a frequent basis. He even uses the old "My life for yours" line that Trashcan man from The Stand uses and has a very similar character deliver it. Also; FIREFLY!!!!! And also-also, he references one of his own novels, Heart Shaped Box. It's something I've always liked about King's work, making current media mentions within a novel's pages, and I'm glad Hill carries on that tradition. As a geek, I think it's cool, and I love looking for them.

Also, the tension this novel, and Hill's words create, caused such a tension in me, and made me SO very anxious... well I haven't felt that in so long!! It was rather stunning to uncurl myself from my couch, and realize that this novel had made me BE THERE. Not since the early days of Stephen King himself, have I visited the worlds within a novel's pages so completely. It was uncanny. It was spooky. And it was so very welcome a feeling. (I then gave the most tense-making part of the novel I had read to my 25 year old son to read, until the end of that chapter. He was VERY impressed, and expressed a desire to read this novel later... and he's read ONE Stephen King novel! He's not a giant fan like I am. lol) Bravo, Mr. Hill!!

The graphic scenes with the terrible, traitorous, & toothy children kept me reading until well past my usual "bedtime", and well into the early hours, night after night - without complaint! I wanted to return to this place ALL day long, each day, throughout my days away. But the characters within this novel are SO real, so warm, and so cared about, I think I will miss them for some time.

It's certainly his longest work yet, which I LOVE, and don't understand all the kvetching about. I also believe it is his most vibrant. I find myself greatly anticipating whatever he has coming out next, because he's a remarkable talent, and I love the contemporary edge and gritty voice he's giving to this generation of literature. I've read a lot of horror books, and this -THIS- is why I read them. Vic against the hideously evil Charles Manx. Rational beings coming to terms with the irrational and frightening. All of those things were done brilliantly. I liked this one more than IT, and easily on the level with The Shining.

I must add that I refuse to compare Hill to his legendary father, Stephen King. They are not the same person, they don't write the same, and their styles, while they are the same "flavor", these styles run differently, and leave a completely different "after-taste" in your mind. (If that doesn't make sense, I cannot help you. I don't know how to explain it better, right now.) And yet, somehow, you are taken there, to the story's end, in the same manner. But possibly, very possibly, Joe Hill *might* just be a little bit better than Stephen King.... and you are reading the critique of a woman who grew up on Stephen King from a young age (14), and has read nearly every novel that man has written. And I will continue to do so, until the very last one is made. And who's most favorite novel of all time is The Stand.

And so, while my first impression was simply that this was a great, creepy book, the final third proves that this is truly a beautiful work of literature, with much to say about the human condition, particularly the strange, confusing, and often conflicted love that children and their parents have for each other. It's rare that I am truly moved by any book, and never before have I been moved by a horror novel.

--- YOU MUST read the Acknowledgments all the way through, BOTH the Nice List AND the Naughty List. And then, go ahead and read the last page, called "A Note on the Type".... go ahead, I'll wait. You won't be let down... in fact, it's the best little send-off I've seen in a novel. I've thought about it, off and on............all...........day.............long......---

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you can't stomach gruesome and disturbing scenes of child kidnapping and violent gore, then this certainly won't be for you; but anyone who can owes it to themselves to read the new great modern horror novel. He's proven that he has all of his father's skill much earlier in life, with much more to come.

I think I may have to own ALL of Joe Hill's other novels, in hard-back form... there's no other way around this love affair. I've only read two of them, and the need/lust/desire has set in.... I love his voice, and there are turns of phrase in this book that made me ache with envy --

"fantasy was always only a reality waiting to be switched on".

"She breathed deeply of the scent of decaying fiction, disintegrating history, and forgotten verse, and observed for the first time that a room full of books smelled like dessert: a sweet snack mad of figs, vanilla, glue and cleverness."

“She'd thought love had something to do with happiness, but it turned out they were not even vaguely related. Love was closer to a need, no different from the need to eat, to breathe.”

“So many of man's inventions - the syringe, the sword, the pen, the gun - were metaphorical cocks, but the internal combustion engine had to have been dreamt up by a man who had looked upon the human heart.”

“If books were girls and reading was s-ss-ssss-fucking, this would be the biggest whorehouse in the county and I'd be the most ruthless pimp you ever met. Whap the girls on the butts and send them off to their tricks as fast and often as I can.”

“Men, she thought, were one of the world's few sure comforts, like a fire on a cold October night, like cocoa, like broken-in-slippers. Their clumsy affections, their bristly faces, and their willingness to do what needed to be done - cook an omelette, change light bulbs, make with hugging - sometimes almost made being a woman fun.” ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
This was my first Joe Hill book but it definitely will not be my last. This was one of those creative, old-fashioned horror stories that 100% reminded me of Stephen King (who just happens to be his dad). It had that creepy vibe that makes your spine tingle. It's normal people that aren't quite normal and their special "talents" cause problems for them. At points I began to wonder about the main character's sanity (and Lord knows everybody in her world thought she was crazy). Yet, it turns out Vic wasn't crazy at all. Manx is a creature out of all nightmares. This book made me want to search out more horror stories.

One other thing that made me love Joe Hill even more were some references I caught to Stephen King's books and universe which made it seem all the more plausible that all the stories were happening together. Gotta love that the books are intertwined like that. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |

My only experience with Kate Mulgrew, prior to listening to this audio book, was in her role as Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager. It's odd, looking back, that I almost never watched Voyager because Mulgrew's voice irritated the hell out of me. Needless to say, I got over it, and I became a big fan of Star Trek's first female captain.

I haven't seen or heard from Kate Mulgrew since the Voyager TV series ended. (I have some vague idea that she's on a new series "Orange is the New Black", but I haven't seen it, so... whatever.) Until now.

NOS4A2 is a rare example of how a good, (maybe GREAT), story can be made even better with quality narration. I loved this book, back when I first read it, (my original review is here:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/378178644 ). But I truly believe that Kate's voice as Charlie Manx, (and Maggie Lee, and Bing), adds a level of depth to this book, previously not reached. (Even considering the mispronunciation of Haverhill-it's not Haver-Hill it's Hay-vrill.) Ms. Mulgrew NAILS Charlie Manx's evil way of speaking-free of most contractions and unfailingly polite. Manx is a perfect gentlemen, as long as you ignore the fact that he steals children and he steals from them. (What, exactly, he steals from them, I will leave for you to discover on your own.)

Kate's performance of Lou, one of the main characters, has also added depth to this wonderful, big lug of a man. Starting his sentences so often with the word "Dude", (which Ms. Mulgrew turns into "Duuu-de"), just brings home his innocence and willingness to do whatever he can for his common-law wife and son. I loved this character and I love him even more now that he was given a "real" voice in this audio book.

Maggie Lee's horrible stutter is also brought home by Kate's gravelly voice. Between Joe Hill's amazing writing and Ms. Mulgrew's kick-ass voice, I feel that Maggie is the most realistic and sad character in this story. Her suffering and attempts at hurting herself somehow became even more poignant when I was listening to this tale, rather than reading it.

This has never happened to me before, but I'm giving the audio of this book one star more than I gave the book itself. Listening to this story brought to it an entire new level of understanding and empathy for the characters. Prior to listening to NOS4A2, I didn't think that could be done. Now I know I was wrong, and I also know that re-reading a book via narration can actually enhance the experience. Bravo to both Joe Hill and Kate Mulgrew for the hours of pleasure that is the audible book NOS4A2! ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
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BLOODY DISGUSTING bloody-disgusting.com
[BEST & WORST '13] Top 10 Horror Novels of the Year!

8. NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
(April 30; William Morrow)

Whimsical to a fault, Joe Hill’s newest novel is jam-packed with enough imagination for an entire series. His child-warping, Christmas-loving villain, Charlie Manx, is one of the best end-level bosses in all of fiction, evil and memorable enough to receive a mention from none other than Stephen King (Hill’s father, who name-dropped Manx in Doctor Sleep). This guy Hill is a world-builder working at the top of his game.
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Hillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rodriguez, GabrielIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Faughnan, LindaCopyeditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardy, LibertyCopyeditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerner, Jamie LynnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mulgrew, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuck, MaryCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sugden, MaureenCopyeditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Die Todten reiten schnell. (For the dead travel fast.)
-- "Lenore," Gottfried Bürger
To my mom - here's a mean machine for the story queen.
First words
Nurse Thornton dropped into the long-term-care ward a little before eight with a hot bag of blood for Charlie Manx.
What's good stays good no matter how much of a beating it takes.
She breathed deeply of the scent of decaying fiction, disintegrating history, and forgotten verse, and she observed for the first time that a room full of books smelled like dessert:  a sweet snack made of figs, vanilla, glue, and cleverness.
But everyone also lives in the world inside their own head. An inscape, a world of thought. In a world made of thought--in an inscape--every idea is a fact. Emotions are as real as gravity. Dreams are as powerful as history.
Christmas was almost three months in the rearview mirror, and there was something awful about Christmas music when it was nearly summer. It was like a clown in the rain, with his makeup running.
She thought of mothering, which was really another word for being present and caring what happened to someone.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Don't slow down

Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charlie's twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.

And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble . . . and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, the only kid ever to escape Charlie's unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.

But Charlie Manx hasn't stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won't slow down until he's taken his revenge. He's after something very special—something Vic can never replace.

As a life-and-death battle of wills builds—her magic pitted against his—Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all . . . or die trying. . . .

AR Level 5.7; 31 Points
Haiku summary
NOS4A2 is
the perfect antidote for
Christmas craziness

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