"He had long accepted that everyone had his own world inside, each as real as the communal world shared by all but impossible for others to access."
I'm having a really hard time even knowing where to begin writing about NOS4R2 (or, NOS4A2, if you're an American) because I liked it very very much, even though it took me about 4 months to read (or, I at least read it over 4 months), and that's always difficult to write about; but ALSO I want to go through the whole review without mentioning the Stephen King connection but how is that going to be possible? HAVE WE MET?*
In fact, I'm going to bring up the Stephen King thing now so we get it out of the way and no one feels awkward. SO- in case you didn't know, Joe Hill is Stephen King's son (SURPRISE! Time to leave that rock, kids). Also in case you didn't know, I kind of have a vague interest in Stephen King's work, and that meant that, at least to begin with, it was almost impossible for me to read this without comparing it to King. I hated myself for doing it, and I constantly reminded myself that THEY ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON and also SHHHH, brain.
But then something weird happened, and my brain stopped going 'Stephen King is his DAD!' every 5 minutes, and the entire credit for that goes to the book itself. It's just so. Good. Literally, the better it got, the less I thought of anything in the outside world and just got completely sucked into the world of Vic and Lou and Charles Manx, where bad things often happen, and sometimes the demons win, however much you don't want them to. But we'll get to that.**
So, NOS4R2. There's a LOT of story here, as you might expect for a book with nearly 700 pages, and it's definitely impossible to sum up in a paragraph or two. But here goes: It's basically the story of Vic McQueen and her ability to find lost things, about the way she grows up and the challenges she faces as an adult. It's also the story of Charles Manx, a genuinely chilling villain who genuinely believes that he's doing the right thing when he kidnaps children and
forces lets them live in a place where it's eternally Christmas. Only, really really scary Christmas.
That's kind of what the book's about, but it's also about having amazing action sequences, combined with just the right amount of emotion and character development and genuinely scary stuff. In Hanna's review, she says that it's probably better to read in the summer rather than actually AT Christmas (in spite of Waterstones trying to trick us by putting a sticker on the front that says 'A Christmas horror story!') because the whole point of the Christmas thing is that it's REALLY unnerving to hear Christmas songs when it isn't Christmas, and that's even more apparent when you're reading it and it's March all of a sudden (Seriously. Four months. Entirely my fault.)
This book though. I definitely have a few tiny issues with it, but they're pretty much engulfed by how much I just purely enjoyed it. I feel like I sometimes miss out on books that are a lot of fun (even if it's scary fun) because I read a lot of 'Literary Fiction' because I can't quite bear reading books that aren't well written. But THIS! This is both well written and completely absorbing, and this is my favourite combination of book, I think. *Whispers* It's why I like Stephen King so much... But anyway, this. So much action, combined with so much good writing makes it so much my kind of book.
And and, as Alley said in her review (because apparently, the way to write posts that are difficult to write is to
steal borrow some inspiration!) the secondary characters are SO. GOOD. I don't know how a person could read this and not love Maggie, and the Gas Mask Man is extremely creepy, and there's this one character who's in it extremely peripherally, but who still managed to make me cry with a note and that is kind of an amazing thing. Even though this book has nearly 700 pages, it never loses its way, and doesn't include any characters that don't feel like living, breathing people, and that's pretty much the best compliment I can pay a book.
In case it doesn't go without saying, I highly recommend that you read this book, RIGHT NOW if not sooner. Just to wrap things up, I want to bring up Stephen King again, but in a non-comparing manner. In NOS4R2, there are a few tiny moments where SK books are referenced*** and every time it was SO EXCITING to me. I just... I can't even explain how pleasing it is to me when I know things that aren't necessarily made explicit, and even more pleasing when they're Stephen King related and yes. BUT NOS4R2 is definitely worth reading even without an encyclopaedic knowledge of the author's father's work.
*I know the answer is technically no, but we've met on the internet and that's basically the same thing.
**Or not, because it seems to spoilery. We'll see.
***In a similar way to what King does in his own books