Chris McGrath's Reviews > NOS4A2

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: own-in-arc, autographed, own-in-hardcover, horror, favorites
Read from February 28 to March 08, 2013

Joe Hill has described this 700+ page book as "my senior PhD thesis on horror", about a very bad 140 year old man who kidnaps children and takes them to a terrible place called Christmasland. This is an accurate surface description, but doesn't even come close to describing what this book is really about: the truest kind of love, which can come from even the most flawed human beings.

Yes, this is a horror novel, no question, and it's one of the best I've ever read. As with Hill's other novels, the first portion of the book moves along very well and introduces us to this reality and all the unnatural and scary things that are possible here. Then as the story progresses, the characters themselves flesh out into something much deeper than archetypes or plot devices. Each major player in this book is so perfectly fleshed-out, it's easy to begin believing that this story is true and that we are seeing the inner dialog of real people.

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.

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.

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, and writes better endings as well.

Site note: I love the references to Shawshank prison and Derry, Maine, as well as Lovecraft from Hill's Locke & Key series, which officially designates Hill's writing as happening in the greater Dark Tower universe. This has no impact whatsoever on the story, but is a nice little Easter egg for Stephen King fans.
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Reading Progress

02/28/2013 "SUPER excited to get my hands on this early and start reading!"
03/05/2013 page 387
56.0% "Shawshank Prison reference... wonder if that means this is officially part of his Dad's universe. Either way, made me smile."
03/05/2013 page 406
59.0% "Cool! In addition to Shawshank, Pennywise/Derry are mentioned as well as Lovecraft. I guess the family officially has a shared universe!"
04/16/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Neida (new) - added it

Neida Great review. Loiking forward to reading this....

Jean-Paul Adriaansen What a great review! Congrats.

Antonio Another little Easter egg was the mentioning of Craddock McDermott from Heart Shaped Box, which was a nice little touch. Great review!

Linda great review.

Stevie Great review. I'm about 3/4th of the way through and enjoying it immensely. I just wanted to point out another reference you missed. The doors to mid-world were mentioned as well. :-)

Antoinette Bolduc I am enjoying the book alot and am only into it by100 or so pages.

Dana West Bing Partridge: "my life for you". Remind anyone else of a certain arsonist?

Dana West Also, great review.

message 9: by Tom (new) - added it

Tom Cruzan Great review and a great book. There were all kinds of Stephen King easter eggs in this book. Among the others mentioned, I thought it was noteworthy that Hooper was a Saint Bernard, just like Cujo. And when asked what her motorcycle was saying the first time she started it she replied ”Hiyo Silver!” just like Bill Denbrough in IT. Pretty cool nods to his father's work.

Aretha Flakes This is a great review! I totally concur and I could not have done any better.

Holley I also loved the little mention of The Treehouse of the Mind from "Horns". It literally made me smile reading those little references to his own books and to his dad's. And the very end, on the note after the acknowledgements was like the perfect after credits scene!

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