Customer Review

174 of 206 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, and intense in chunks, though overlong, February 9, 2013
This review is from: NOS4A2: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This is certainly well-written, and intense in chunks; Joe Hill does a good job at creating his main character, Vic McQueen. Some of the other things about the book that did not work for me may very well be considered pluses by other readers.

I didn't dislike this book - it was 'okay.' But there's already plenty of positive reviews by other readers that really enjoyed it; I'll focus on my criticisms so potential readers can see another side.

Mostly, I think "NOS4A2" is a tight, concise, intense 300-page thriller watered-down over 700 pages. It's written like an epic, but it lacks an epic scope - the book's length extends conversations and scenes, but often without growing the story. Unlike a book I excitedly blaze through, I really felt the length.

There's only four main characters (and two important supporting characters), and for all the book's length, only Vic McQueen gets a real in-depth treatment. Even the two villains, while a lot of time is spent with them, are never much more than evil people - again, there's limited scope to the story. It doesn't feel like there's anything at stake - one side's good, one side's bad, and that's pretty much it. It's a very long chase story.

A comparison might be to Justin Cronin's equally long "The Passage," which gives his villains a much deeper backstory. So you're not "rooting" for Cronin's villains, but he provides a more three-dimensional struggle.

But - Joe Hill is a great writer, no doubt. In individual scenes he does a very good job of conveying the intensity needed in a good thriller. And, when the book starts picking up speed at about Page 400 it moves rapidly to a decently satisfying conclusion.

I do have to say I was hoping for a supernatural thriller/horror story mixed with serial killer elements...and what I got was a serial killer story mixed with the supernatural. I'm not a big fan of literary (or real, obviously) violence against women and children, and there was a fair amount of that - I'm no prude, and I know this is a HORROR novel, but reading 700 pages reminded me how little I like that as a plot device.

I didn't dislike this book - my three-star review means it was "okay." But I liked Hill's previous books - "Heart Shaped Box," "Horns" and "20th Century Ghosts," much better.

EDIT: I read an 'advance review copy' that lacked the "Note on the Type" at the end of the book - this is an important conclusion, and you don't want to skip it! When I read it later, it didn't change my overall opinion, but it is a positive addition.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 46 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 26, 2013 1:19:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2013 1:19:17 PM PST
Bornintime says:
I plan on reading this book and your comparison to The Passage makes me a little hesitant to start. I thought that book was just ok - good enough to have me keep reading but not good enough to ever really captivate me. A 700 page book is like a 3 hour movie. It should be exceptional to warrant that length.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2013 2:31:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2013 2:47:41 PM PST
It's a totally different type of book than "The Passage." I was just comparing how Cronin does, I think, a better job of giving his characters a bit more dimension.

But...I mean, NOS4A2 is 700 pages, and I feel like less would have been more...still, I think if you've enjoyed Hill's previous books you'll at least like this one, even if it's not a favorite.

Posted on Apr 28, 2013 8:40:02 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 28, 2013 10:41:11 AM PDT do I put this?


If he wanted to ensure his son that wealth, SK could....I don't know...maybe write him a check from his vast, unspendable fortune?

All kidding aside, I think the writing style is fairly different, even if both authors are in the horror/thriller genre. I think it's easy to say that thrillers sound the same, but no, King's not his son's ghostwriter.

But, I do agree that NOS4A2 is under-edited, which has been a recent flaw with SK's 'Under the Dome,' or '11/22/63,' either of which could have been much tighter stories. And, it could certainly be argued that Hill's success was helped along by his family pedigree.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2013 10:48:07 AM PDT
Bornintime says:
100% sure of this? Wow. That is amazing that you have inside knowledge and know with absolute certainty that an aging writer is now increasing his output. I read a couple books by Joe Hill and didn't think they were as good as his father's work.

But now I know the truth.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2013 2:42:52 AM PDT
CC, that is by far, the stupidest thing I've read all day. It makes no sense at all. Why would he go through all that trouble if he could simply just turn his bank account over to Joe? Have you ever thought that - maybe - the reason Joe writes in a similar style is that - MAYBE - he picked up a few things from his father?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2013 8:46:24 AM PDT
Pelagius says:
I disagree 100%. Joe is already a better writer than Stephen, with the key difference being that Joe obviously outlines his books. He knows exactly how they are going to end before he starts them, but dad has always famously written on the fly. SK credits JH with giving him the ending to 11/22/63 and admits that it was a huge improvement over his original ending. If you've read Heart-Shaped Box and/or Horns, then you know that there is no reason to doubt this. 11/22/63 is King's best ending since probably The Dead Zone. Sr. could learn a thing or two from Jr.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2013 10:12:26 AM PDT
Funny you say that...I really did not like the 11/22/63 ending.

I would compare present-day SK to Joe Hill a little....I don't think King's at the top of his game anymore. BUT, any of the 1970s-1980s books from King are untouchable...nothing Joe, or really anybody, has written comes close Salem's Lot, Stand, Shining, Night Shift...those are standards everyone else dreams of even being compared to, much less equalling.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2013 12:22:58 PM PDT
Pelagius says:

I have to give you the early King novels, and I still really enjoy reading him but his endings are usually really frustrating.

re: 11/22/63: I don't think he was talking about the whole "Back To The Future II" scenario, but just the final scene that at least gave it a decent emotional wrap-up - there was probably no good way to end that plot ... Peace out.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2013 12:26:49 PM PDT
Ok - actually, yes, I agree with that.
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Nathan Webster

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