Review of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Review of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
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Rating: 4.5/5

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. That’s a big name to live up to. It’s probably why Hill wrote under a pen name, to avoid giving people the chance to have an opinion about his writing before they’ve read it.

Stephen King is one of my favourite writers–if not my favourite–so Hill had some living up to do.

He pulls it off, for the most part. Like his dad, Hill can write, no doubt. His style is similar to Kings, in that it’s trippy and addictive. Hill has an eye for details that stick in your head and make a scene pack a punch.

NOS4A2 is the license/number plate of a car, a Rolls Royce Phantom, driven by nut-job Charles Talent Manx. He’s a vampire, of sorts, who kidnaps children and feeds off their innocence. Victoria/Vic McQueen is a girl who gets tangled up with Manx because of her own abilities. They can both imagine themselves to other places.

This book is epic in scale, charting Vic’s life from a young girl all the way to being a mum. Manx follows her from their first encounter and Vic must use her ability when Manx takes something from her.

Save his writing style, the strongest part of King’s books are his characters. Despite the situations they are in, and their abilities, they always seem believable and it’s easy to root for them. It’s easy to root for Vic, as the story develops, but she doesn’t feel as real as King’s characters. None of Hill’s characters do. They’re too crazy or over the top, and while it offers some funny scenes, it makes the characters harder to imagine and less scary.

This book is epic in size, too. It’s 700 pages long and at times feels too long. It would’ve been easy to cut over 100 pages without harming the story, which gets a little repetitive and drawn-out at times. But I was never bored. Hill’s writing style keeps things moving, as do the numerous action set pieces. The length does take away from the tension sometimes, but it also makes this book easier to be pulled into.

At times, things get really crazy, especially in Christmasland, Manx’s imagined prison for his victims, and like the crazy characters it takes something away from the story. King got the balance between trippy and believable right most of the time. Hill tips it a little too trippy in NOS4A2. But he still delivers on some scary scenes.

It’s hard not to compare Hill with his dad when reading this book. King’s trademarks are clear throughout–there are even connections to King’s books, Shawshank Prison for example. But Hill is a solid writer and storyteller in his own right. The pace is pretty fast all the way through, despite the 700 page length. The action set pieces are cool and the story pulls you in from the first chapter.

Overall, this is a solid horror story and made me a fan of Hill.

Highly recommended. 


Has anyone else read anything by Hill, how do you think his writing compares to his dad’s?

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About Sam Whitehouse

Sam spends most of his time in a different world to other people. If it isn’t one he’s created himself, it’s one he’s reading about. In the rare moments when this isn’t the case, Sam can either be found addicted to a sci-fi or crime show, re-watching Marvel movies, finishing up an assignment for his final year of studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, or trying to get the dozens of ideas for stories in his head under some kind of control. Sam has lived in the same small village in Yorkshire, surrounded by countryside on all sides ever since he could remember. His childhood saw him get into plenty of scrapes climbing trees and crossing rivers and generally believing he was Indiana Jones. Sam gives credit to his Grandad for him wanting to be a writer, and his bedtime stories for keeping Sam’s imagination stoked. But credit must also go to Steven Spielberg, J K Rowling and Stephen King, who have provided plenty of inspiration over the years, too. Sam writes what he reads, and that is pretty much anything—save romance. Fantasy, thrillers, or crime: once an idea takes root, he can’t stop until the world, characters, and plot are on paper. A huge Marvel fan, Sam one day hopes to pen a screenplay for one of their movies, or direct one, or do anything at all related to one. Until then, he’ll stick to his own fantasy worlds and wait for Marvel’s phone call.

Posted on 07/04/2015, in book review, books, reading and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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