Lessons from the creepily compelling novel NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I Learned from this book:

1. Keep your plot in motion. The pacing of this novel is like a juggernaut. Relentless, full of suspense and strong enough to ignore any plot holes or inconsistencies. Hill wastes no time getting to the point.

2. Flawed characters are compelling but I found Vic to be too damaged to care about. I would have liked her to be a little more sympathetic. Maybe if there were more scenes between her and her family during the good times, or a scene or two of her working on the Search Engine books.

3. The Big Bad wasn’t as scary as his henchman, much in the same way that Darth Vader is more compelling than the Emperor. Part of this has to do with the fact that Bing Partridge was flamboyantly evil, and loved raping and torturing his victims. I hated being in his brain and reading from his point of view. Charles Manx, by contrast, is subdued.

4. Some of the writing gimmicks (bolded text and capitalization) were clunky and threw me out of the story. The main gimmick–ending a chapter with a dangling sentence and finishing it in the next chapter–was ingenious.

5. I loved the portmanteau magic system. Cars and motorcycle geekery; magic Scrabble tiles; magic bridges and pocket universes. It was fun and inventive.

6. The author wisely gives the reader plenty of nightmare fuel. Evil children! Haunted amusement parks! A moon with a face! Hill isn’t stingy with the dark surreality; he gives his readers a steady stream.

I learned a lot about crafting dark fantasy/horror fiction from this book. A couple of fine tunings, and this would have been even better.

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