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by Joe Hill

Other authors: Gabriel Rodriguez (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,9022433,277 (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
    It by Stephen King (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Malevolent entities that prey upon children are the driving force of these creepy, suspenseful horror stories. In both novels, only adults lucky enough to escape the villain's clutches in childhood are later able to battle the evil when it returns.… (more)
  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 241 (next | show all)
NOS4A2 was my first book by Joe Hill, and what a thrill ride it was. I started watching the AMC series that is based on the book (which is very good by the way) and was curious to get the story behind the TV version. I was glad I did. The unique idea of making Christmas - everyone's favorite holiday - into a horror story was creepy, especially with Christmas music playing all year-round, a thought that made me want to grind my teeth. Still, it made an excellent backdrop for a nightmarish tale of a vampire-like monster that uses his car to suck the life out of children. The concept of Charlie Manx's Wraith and Vic McQueen's Shorter Way bridge being figments of their minds was a little hard to grasp at first, but after I got used to the time shifts, it was cool. Even though there were some disturbing scenes, I loved the way everything pulled together at the end (no spoilers). Very entertaining, but not for the squeamish. ( )
  PaulaGalvan | Jul 9, 2020 |
Please note that I gave this book 3.5 stars. However, Goodreads does not allow half stars so I rounded it up to 4 stars.

Wish that I could say anything more about this book besides it being okay. There really was a lot of fat that should have been trimmed out of this book. There are just pages and pages that really add no value to the overall book. And as a fan of King, I have to say that mostly what Joe Hill does here is mimic his father. This whole book read like a Stephen King novel to me. I much preferred Heart Shaped Box to this one.

So to start off just sound out the words NOS4A2 to yourself...just do it. What do you get?

So this book was pretty much just a run of the mill book about not quite a vampire, but something that acts like a vampire (yeah I don't know my brain is tired) by draining children, but doesn't go out and bleed them dry.

The book shows a convicted child abductor Charles Manx in a coma in a hospital. Awakening briefly and scaring the life out of nurse that works there, her bosses don't believe her claims that he awoke. We then shift back to 1986 to Vic McQueen (called The Brat by her dad) and find out her connection to Manx and what actions occurred that led Manx to be hospitalized.

So off the top of my head I am going to say for me horror books are always more memorable to me when you have a really good villain. IT is still talked about by adults because that book and movie scared us to the bones. I wish that I could rank Charles Manx up there, but I can't. I just didn't find him scary. I found him weak and ineffectual. For someone who was so all powerful and scary, the fact that he needed a human being in order to get things done (his Renfield as it were) I just kind of hard shrugged.

Manx's Renfield, Bing, was disgusting and I had no sympathy for the character at all. What perplexed me about him a lot was that Hill didn't spell out things for the reader with regards to what exactly went down with Bing and his parents. I mean I can guess, but who knows if you are right or not. I don't always need things spelled out, but since this book was clocking in at 720 pages I am baffled he just didn't add in more details. And I am going to say that I am still perplexed by the change in Bing's childhood. It seemed like his parents loved him and then all of a sudden his father is an abusive monster? I don't know. I feel like we missed some steps here with the character.

The character of Vic felt real to me. Hill didn't go out of his way to make her a likable person. In fact a lot of the town you are going to want to shake Vic. When we readers follow her as young girl I loved her absolutely. She had fire and spunk and nothing was going to stop her doing what she did. I loved the descriptions of her on her bike, because that was how I used to feel on mine as a kid. And when I finally bought another bike two years ago. Happy sigh. Anyway, I liked her up until her father left her mother in the story. From there on I was sick of her. Finding out that Vic and others like her had "powers" that allowed them to "bend" reality just didn't work for me. I think in books like this you don't need to go and over explain things. And I felt like that was what most of this book did, it tried to over explain things.

I can't say much about the other characters in this book. I didn't feel any way connected to people in this story for the most part. I felt badly for Vic's mother and for Vic's ex Lou.

Honestly the writing from this book from beginning to end reminded me of Stephen King. Since I have read about every King novel and short story to date, a few times I was like well he got that from The Library Policemen, oh he got this from Salem's Lot, oh got this from The Dark Tower series. I got sick of the mimicry about 1/3 of the way through it.

This book was 720 pages. Seriously. 720 pages. Guess what, this was not a book that leaves you so mesmerized by it that you are not aware of how many pages you have left to go. Instead every 20 pages or so I would mentally say to myself, how many more freaking pages til I finish the chapter? I really didn't find myself sucked into this story at all for the most part. The flow was pretty bad because we kept jumping around a lot. Frankly if the book had just focused on Vic that would have been okay. I really didn't need to get into the head of Bing at all. The book gets stuck a few times and then we go into the ending and nothing made much sense there at all.

And speaking of the ending. Wow. Just no. I don't know what Hill was thinking there at all, but if you want to go dark dude, you need to go dark. I just laughed a bit at the the totally tonally deaf happy ending that occurred. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Re-read 12/9/19:

What a book to get me in the mood for Christmas! Again. :)

Okay, so maybe re-reading about the man who made Christmastown all that it is might not be EXACTLY everyone's cup of tea when it comes to getting in the mood for Christmas, but I'm a bit odd.

Fortunately, Hill writes a great horror and horror is good any time of the year. Still filled with great characters, great development, and great sick horror. :) Charley obviously never hurts children.

Original Review:

The novel really shines with characterizations. The depth and easy flow was excellent. How the peculiar abilities/ideas affected them was also quite memorable.
I was kinda surprised that we didn't actually get to go to Christmastown until much, much later in the novel, but the buildup and anticipation was well worth it. The creepy ending was also very very satisfying.

I don't like to compare styles between authors unless I was doing a serious paper, but for those who like SK, you'll like Joe Hill's work, too. :) There's plenty of obvious reasons, but fortunately, all of them made a good novel that isn't reliant on the relationship in the slightest.

I'll definitely read more of Mr. Hill's work. This was my first, and I was very pleased. ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
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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» Add other authors

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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