This doesn’t help: my kids singing Christmas songs in the middle of summer. That’s right. While reading NOS4A2, a book about a draconian dream-weaver who kidnaps children, taking them to a macabre, bloodthirsty place called Christmasland—my own kids are scattering Santa notes throughout the house signing Jingle Bells in July. Not cool kids, not cool.
My introduction to Joe Hill (AKA Stephen King’s son) started with his graphic novel WRAITH, which was written after NOS4A2, but serves as its prequel. WRAITH proved to me that Joe Hill was a sick and gross man. I loved it. You can see through the colorful drawings the children with rows and rows of sharp teeth, chasing down mean, abusive adults; those adults would be the kids’ next dinner. Blood and Christmas—what could be a better match?
I am pleased with Hill’s non-illustrated foray into Christmasland in this book. If anything, the over 700 pages took me deeper into Charlie Manx’s twisted world, revealing the grotesqueness of it all. Even better: a kickbutt female anti-hero. Oh, yeah! Hill’s pages brought the build-up, mystery, and devilishness all to an exciting climax and sentimental close.
My only critique is, as true with many of his father’s writings, this book felt like the bellows of an accordion: the writing was built-up in places where I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough, while in other places it was drawn out with over-detailed descriptions of comic outfits, airport food, or the carpet on the floor. You can tell he had fun writing this, but some of it should have been edited down.
I also appreciated the similarity to what I refer to as King-isms. Stephen Sr. has a habit of concluding his chapters with a laidback observation that makes you laugh at the absurdity of what you’ve just read. It could be an astute observation to a life-inspection-worthy quote. It’s a great tool to engage the readers.
If you can stomach, or even appreciate, the crude nature of its subject matter, or if you are just looking for more King-like writing, I think you’ll be pleased with NOS4A2.
NOTE: If you haven’t seen it already, can you guess what the NOS4A2 license plate stands for?
You can view this book’s preview and its other reviews, many of which are 5-stars, on Amazon: NOS4A2: A Novel