NOS4A2 Audio CD – Audiobook, 8 Jul 2014
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"Quite simply the best horror writer of our generation, Joe Hill's masterful storytelling is on full display in NOS4A2. It is by turns terrifying and hilarious, horrifying and full of heart, and relentlessly compelling."--Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet on NOS4A2
"[A] new take on the fantasy-horror genre...Highly recommended."--The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia)
"[A] lovely, earnest collection of short fiction."--Village Voice
"[An] inventive collection . . . brave and astute."--New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
"[A]stounding . . . .Though most of the stories have elements of horror, the overall mood of the collection is one of heartbreaking wonderment . . . Highly recommended ."--Library Journal (starred review)
"[An] undeniably readable work."--Booklist (starred review) on NOS4A2
"NOS4A2 is a brilliant exploration of classic and modern monsters and dark fantasties, all cut up, restitched and retooled...With this novel, riveting from beginning to end, Joe Hill has become a master of his craft."--Publishers Weekly on NOS4A2
"Hill is so skillful that we don't know till the very end whether he'll get away with it. . . Hill's story is quite original and, for horror fans of a certain ironic bent, it's an unqualified delight."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on NOS4A2
"NOS4A2 will pull you in from the first pages, and draw you away from your other responsibilities."--Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Read it with the lights on and your children locked in a closet."--BookRiot.com on NOS4A2
"[Hill's] sentences crackle with wit and understated craftsmanship - the kind so skillful it is only visible if you're paying attention."--The Globe and Mail on NOS4A2
"Hill's well-stocked bag of narrative tricks keeps the pages moving at a steady clip, and his characters are sufficiently melodramatic to make the book's scale feel both intimate and operatic. In fact, if you're an impressionable reader, stick to reading 'NOS4A2' during the day. "--Richmond Times-Dispatch on NOS4A2
"Words of warning for those who pick up this hefty, 704-page saga: You'll never listen to Christmas carols the same way. Or sleep with the lights off."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram on NOS4A2
"Like any good novel, no matter the genre, NOS4A2 zips down the streets of its mesmerizing story line not just in the Wraith but also, and more importantly, on the backs of high-octane characters...Hill imbues the pitter-patter of little feet with a terror you won't soon forget."--USA Today, 4 stars
"NOS4A2 is a masterwork of horror."--Lev Grossman, Time magazine
"Joe Hills NOS4A2 is one of the creepiest books I've read in a long time--and I mean that in a good way."--Tampa Bay Times on NOS4A2
"NOS4A2 and its story of a heroic biker chic going up against an old vampire should grab you by the lapels and give y ou a few good shakes before setting its hooks in--and deep....Hill...puts together a riveting tale."--St Louis Today on NOS4A2
"Joe Hill can terrify. he can humor. He can sadden. He can shock. His characters are deep and vibrant, his plots mesmerizing, his prose genuine. Simply put, he's a damn good writer."--Writer's Digest on NOS4A2
"NOS4A2 is [Hill's] longest and most ambitious work yet. . . utterly absorbing."--Seattle Times
"Hill's imagination is...far-ranging....NOS4A2 is full of chills and cliffhangers."--New York Times on NOS4A2
"Fascinating and utterly engaging, this novel is sure to leave readers wanting more. One thing is certain, however. After reading this book, readers will never hear Christmas carols in quite the same way again."--Library Journal (starred review) on NOS4A2
Quite simply the best horror writer of our generation, Joe Hill s masterful storytelling is on full display in NOS4A2. It is by turns terrifying and hilarious, horrifying and full of heart, and relentlessly compelling. --Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet on NOS4A2"
[A] new take on the fantasy-horror genre...Highly recommended. --The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia)"
[A] lovely, earnest collection of short fiction. --Village Voice"
[An] inventive collection . . . brave and astute. --New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)"
[A]stounding . . . .Though most of the stories have elements of horror, the overall mood of the collection is one of heartbreaking wonderment . . . Highly recommended . --Library Journal (starred review)"
[An] undeniably readable work. --Booklist (starred review) on NOS4A2"
NOS4A2 is a brilliant exploration of classic and modern monsters and dark fantasties, all cut up, restitched and retooled...With this novel, riveting from beginning to end, Joe Hill has become a master of his craft. --Publishers Weekly on NOS4A2"
Hill is so skillful that we don t know till the very end whether he ll get away with it. . . Hill s story is quite original and, for horror fans of a certain ironic bent, it s an unqualified delight. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on NOS4A2"
NOS4A2 will pull you in from the first pages, and draw you away from your other responsibilities. --Cleveland Plain Dealer"
Read it with the lights on and your children locked in a closet. --BookRiot.com on NOS4A2"
Hill s imagination is...far-ranging....NOS4A2 is full of chills and cliffhangers. --New York Times on NOS4A2"
[Hill s] sentences crackle with wit and understated craftsmanship the kind so skillful it is only visible if you re paying attention. --The Globe and Mail on NOS4A2"
Joe Hills NOS4A2 is one of the creepiest books I ve read in a long time--and I mean that in a good way. --Tampa Bay Times on NOS4A2"
Hill s well-stocked bag of narrative tricks keeps the pages moving at a steady clip, and his characters are sufficiently melodramatic to make the book s scale feel both intimate and operatic. In fact, if you re an impressionable reader, stick to reading NOS4A2 during the day. --Richmond Times-Dispatch on NOS4A2"
Words of warning for those who pick up this hefty, 704-page saga: You ll never listen to Christmas carols the same way. Or sleep with the lights off. --Fort Worth Star-Telegram on NOS4A2"
Like any good novel, no matter the genre, NOS4A2 zips down the streets of its mesmerizing story line not just in the Wraith but also, and more importantly, on the backs of high-octane characters...Hill imbues the pitter-patter of little feet with a terror you won t soon forget. --USA Today, 4 stars"
NOS4A2 is a masterwork of horror. --Lev Grossman, Time magazine"
NOS4A2 and its story of a heroic biker chic going up against an old vampire should grab you by the lapels and give y ou a few good shakes before setting its hooks in--and deep....Hill...puts together a riveting tale. --St Louis Today on NOS4A2"
Joe Hill can terrify. he can humor. He can sadden. He can shock. His characters are deep and vibrant, his plots mesmerizing, his prose genuine. Simply put, he s a damn good writer. --Writer's Digest on NOS4A2"
NOS4A2 is [Hill s] longest and most ambitious work yet. . . utterly absorbing. --Seattle Times"
Fascinating and utterly engaging, this novel is sure to leave readers wanting more. One thing is certain, however. After reading this book, readers will never hear Christmas carols in quite the same way again. --Library Journal (starred review) on NOS4A2" --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
From the Back Cover
Joe Hill, the acclaimed, award-winning author of the New York Times bestsellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, plunges you into the dark side of the imagination with a thrilling novel of supernatural suspense . . .
Victoria "Vic" McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety 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.
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 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. Now the only kid ever to escape Charlie's twisted imagination is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx hasn't stopped thinking about Vic McQueen. On the road again, he won't slow down until he's taken his revenge. . . . --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Excellent characters and a wonderful monster a perfect combination of suspense and horror.
Joe Hill is settling accounts with life and he seems to have a lot. The slave maker in this world is an old Rolls Royce car of the 1930s and the Savior of this world is a Raleigh bike and a couple of Harley Davidson and Triumph motorbikes. He does not really like Father Christmas. He prefers the reindeers and the snowmen. And be sure the Moon is not any motherly figure but the great master of this world of total liberation known as Christmasland. Let's sing together the debunking of all mothers, and respect the exclamation marks on that one:
"In Christmasland we'll build a Snowgirl!
And make believe that she's a silly clown!
We'll have lots of fun with Missus Snowgirl!
Until the other kiddies cut her down!"
If you have the guts and the courage to enter one of the most cruel and gory book I have read lately (that definitely makes Stephen King the father look pale with his trilogy horrify / terrify / gross-out), put on your lifejacket and body armor and dive into this maelstrom of aggressive violence that is only believable if you are convinced there is a passage between this world of landscapes and the other world of your own secret inner landscapes, or inscapes. We all have an inscape, or several, but some of us have the tool to get into it and to bring into it the young boys and girls that will enable us to remain young for ever, to rejuvenate ourselves with the youth of these children.Read more ›
Fast-paced, at times truly horrific and good-humoured, NOS4A2 is highly recommended and having read all of Hill's previous novels this is easily his best yet - hopefully an indication of things to come.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is not because the people that read horror novels are idiots or have low standards. Quite the opposite -- it's because we know that good writing -- the gift of storytelling, the gift of execution -- can override a ridiculous sounding premise, and we take immense joy in seeing this being done successfully. There's almost a sense of rebellion in this process -- take THAT, Flaubert! -- and a great deal of fun. And I imagine that Joe Hill had -quite- a bit of fun while writing this monster of a novel. He overcomes the relative weakness of a far fetched plot idea by making great use of his strengths: a natural gift for characterization and a large, welcoming imagination that birthed an interesting new mythos. Taken as a whole, it feels as if we are witnessing something very exciting: a writer growing in confidence, skill, and discovering his own unique voice to craft what is rightfully being called a breakout novel.
It is difficult to build a memorable horror villain while attempting to put a fresh spin on genre tropes, but Hill manages to create a new and refreshingly modern take on the vampire with Charles Manx. Although Manx is occasionally played too comically for my tastes -- he is firmly in the genteel and polite vampire group -- he is given a great minion in Bing Partridge, the "Gasmask Man". Dracula and Renfield are referenced directly in the novel, and as The Count himself was sometimes a bit too polite and Stoker used Renfield for some visceral brutality, so too does Hill play off this dynamic with Manx and Bing to good effect. Manx is a character that honestly believes he is acting for the benefit of those he is "saving", and Bing's unquestioning devotion to him and how the desperation for simplicity and nostalgia can fester in a weak and feeble mind was also interesting (and applicable to much of what I observe on the internet). Their motivations make sense. It doesn't aim for a complete genre reinvention in the way of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, but it is a very welcome and refreshing take on a monster that has recently been so softened and anesthetized.
Manx is able to use his Wraith to access and navigate a sort of shared "inscape" -- a roadmap of the mental realm that is part collective unconscious and part personal dream -- or, in Manx's case, nightmare. Manx at first, on the surface, seems completely at home and unaffected by the act of shifting between worlds, and seems to have mastered it while others struggle to understand it.
And this brings me to the true strength of this novel: its protagonist, Victoria McQueen ("The Brat" to her dad, "Vic" to the rest of the world, and us). We first meet Vic as a child, and at first this set off a warning alarm in my mind -- I absolutely despise the use of children in horror fiction. Somehow, though, Joe Hill managed to do the impossible and made me not only tolerate, but actively love the kid, and he deserves high praise for this fact alone. Vic starts off as a normal enough girl of eight -- a little wild, a gifted artist, but otherwise fairly unremarkable. I particularly enjoyed that he didn't attempt to make her into a precocious genius, the most insufferable kind of child to spend time with in a long book. One day while fleeing a parental dispute over a missing bracelet, she accidentally discovers her own ride into the inscape -- her beloved Raleigh bike, which allows her to access a sort of memory of a condemned and torn down covered bridge which takes her to find missing things. Sort of a deranged Bridge of Terabithia.
Again, if this sounds kind of ridiculous, just trust me on this: it isn't. Some of the book's best writing comes from Vic's increasing disbelief in the possibility of what she is doing -- as she gets older, it gets harder and harder for her to accept the reality of the bridge, and this struggle begins to destroy her. Even in "happy" books, there's always something somewhat melancholy about witnessing the entire life of a character in one story, and following Vic's trajectory from a cheerful young girl to a severely damaged grown woman is painful and heartbreaking. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say: gurl's got issues.
And this is the best and most interesting part of the book for me. Vic is an amazing main character. Her struggles with substance abuse, motherhood, and most of all her own mind, are powerful and believable and really brought this character to life in a memorable way. At varying points she is both strong and weak -- and, as people do in real life, she often shows both sides at once. In his own review of this novel, my friend Joe Borelli of Creature Cast (himself a gifted writer), said it well -- one of the main things that drew him, myself, and many others to horror fiction over other "genre" shelves is as an "examination of human frailty". I've never had much of an interest in the superpowers of people in comic books or fantasy fiction -- I think people are always at their most interesting when they are flawed and show weakness, and I think we as readers learn more from this as well. Often writers will tack on a history of abuse or a struggle with addiction merely because it seems to make the character more interesting or help explain some of their antisocial behavior, but Vic and Maggie (a stuttering librarian that Vic meets on one of her trips across the bridge, with her own access to the inscape via a set of Scrabble tiles) struggle in a way that makes sense.
No 700+ page novel is going to be perfect. There are some great images here -- creepy children frozen under ice, bats with twisted human faces -- but I think that Christmasland as a setting will be something that divides readers into love/hate categories. The world Manx has built for himself will work for people that will enjoy the idea of taking wholesome Christmas-themed imagery and twisting it into something grotesque and awful. Fans of dark-fantasy will appreciate it, but I like my slaughterhouses a little grittier, and I actually preferred the more solidly grounded House of Sleep. Bing's "real world" home has an almost Sawyer-family quality, and as a dilapidated corpse depository it works slightly better for me than the more surreal dangers of Christmasland. It also feels like the novel hit its climax about 100 pages too soon, sort of stretching and elongating a section that felt like it should have been done with a greater sense of tension and urgency. Luckily, though, by that point I cared enough about all those involved in the story that I didn't mind plodding along for another 200 pages.
The novel asks some interesting questions about the nature of good and evil without going overboard in trying to mask it with awkward allegory or veering off into obnoxious philosophical asides -- one gets the sense that these are questions that legitimately popped into the characters' minds along the course of their journeys. I particularly love the idea that the use of magic or special abilities comes with tremendous personal sacrifice, and damages you in ways that you can't necessarily recover from. Vic and Maggie each pay dearly for the use of their abilities, and the price for entering the inscape is steep -- and eventually we learn that even Manx may not be exempt from paying the toll to cross this bridge.
Having established himself as a successful writer with a unique voice on his own merits, it's also nice for fans of the genre to see Hill not shy away from making references to Stephen King's novels throughout the course of the story. It gave a fun sense of Easter egg hunting to an already fun and enjoyable reading experience, and I can't help smiling thinking about how proud Stephen must be of his son. It's also encouraging for me as a fan to know that the family tradition of excellent, giant horror novels will continue -- the literary world is a more fun and more frightening place because of it. N0S4A2 works on several levels -- as a study in character building, as a journey of personal struggle and redemption -- but mostly it is just a damn fun read and one that will stick with you far longer than you might expect it to. Any fan of horror should give this one a spin. Rating: B+
(PS: I don't usually do audiobooks, but fans may be interested in hearing the fabulous Kate Mulgrew read this one)
(Joe Borelli's review can be found at [...])
This is a truly horrifying tale that grabs you in the first chapter and doesn't let go until the end - at which point you're almost guaranteed to have a nightmare or two. Through all 700 plus pages Hill does not waste a single word. Each character is well thought out and presented; each a solid building block in this fascinating and chilling tale.
To me Bing Partridge, who is the chosen assistant in our timeline, is the most disturbing character in the story as he is not deliberately malevolent. Victoria, Vic, the Brat is the young lady hero who is a "finder" and can move through the inscapes thus putting herself in harm's way. There is always a toll; a price for our actions and passing into another place/time causes Vic to become very ill the longer she remains "over there". When Vic rides her bike through the no-longer-existent, rotting covered bridge and meets a punk styled librarian, she learns of Maggie's talent for reading impending events through manipulation of Scrabble tiles. Though Victoria is warned to stay away from the Rolls Royce Wraith it becomes like a magnet drawing her closer and closer.
Christmas-land holds a horrible end for the children whose bodies are never found since they are ordained to live there forever. It becomes Vic's destiny to put an end to Manx, the vampire of the chi, who does not drink blood but takes from his victims something far more precious.
This is a fast paced book and a quick read considering its enormous size. Joe Hill is a great story teller who, as soon as you set the book down for a break, beckons you back for "just one more chapter". I really enjoyed NOS4A2 and will recommend it to all of my friends who like tales of Horror and also to a few as an introduction to this genre.
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.
Some reviews consider it too wordy, saying that it should be half it's length. I respectfully disagree. Look, it's a horror novel and I expect my horror novels to move along at a good pace. I don't want to be bogged down or bored. "NOS4A2" didn't lose me once. True, Hill does W-R-I-T-E, but I never considered any of it superfluous. For those of you who have read it (and those who haven't, no spoilers here),consider: Lou at the McDonald's at the airport. Yes, Hill could have left out a few pages of Lou arguing with himself about what to order--it served no real purpose in the book--but it ADDS to Lou's character. There are (frequent, now that I think of it) instances where someone is regaining consciousness, and Joe Hill could have saved a few more pages and said "he was confused, but after a few moments he realized.." But he DIDN'T, because he wanted us to feel that confusion and panic.
Besides a genuinely creepy plot, two things made this an all-time favorite horror novel for me: I LOVE the characters. And the book flows effortlessly. There is this..ease?...in reading (just like old Stephen King). There's a lot going on, but Hill writes with a certain rhythm and phrasing that makes 688 pages a lot less daunting.
As usual, I'm not including a synopsis of NOS4A2, there are plenty of those floating around. But I'm telling you, if you're a fan of (one more time) "old Stephen King" novels like 'The Shining' and 'The Stand', I think you'll enjoy Joe Hill's "NOS4A2"
The story is paced so fast, especially the last quarter of the book, that I flew through the 700 pages in no time. When I had to stop reading (usually due to having to go to work and, of course, sleep deprivation from reading too late into the night), I could not wait until I could start reading again. The story was addictive and I love that quality in a book!
I want to point out to those of you, like me, who read the Kindle version, that there is a final section in the physical book titled "Note on the Type" (regarding the font used in the book) that is not included in the Kindle version. It is devastating to me that it has been excluded because in it Joe Hill actually continues the story - a prologue if you will. It is very integral to the COMPLETE ending of the book.
So, if you read the Kindle version, you will most definitely want to get your hands on a hard copy to read this last bit and get the full story.