Book Review: NOS4R2
There’s usually that point in a novel the same length as NOS4R2. You know the one. Where everything fizzles out a bit, the novel loses its momentum. 700 pages is quite a length to keep things going at full throttle, and novels rarely manage it.
This one does.
It literally had me hooked from page 1 and wouldn’t let go. The last 100 pages I read in one sitting, because I couldn’t allow myself to stop. I had to reach the end. Somehow, through pure skill and talent, Joe Hill manages to shift the book into fifth gear and keep it there, pedal to the metal. When Vic McQueen goes racing along in her Triumph, in search of her covered bridge, you don’t need to catch up with her. You’re already racing along at the same speed.
The novel flies. In many ways, the novel deals with different locations and the transit between those places, be they geographical locations, the emotional states of characters . . . NOS4R2 is about moving. The chapter headings continue this theme, using a method of transitioning from one chapter to another I’ve not seen since some of Harlan Ellison’s short story collections.
It’s hard to write a review and not mention Hill’s father. In many ways, he will always be under King’s shadow in that his work will forever be compared to that of his Dad. But Hill has his own style and way of doing things. Let’s be honest, and I’m speaking as a huge fan of Stephen King, but some of his work fizzles out. His best work is the stuff that has a well-rounded ending that ties everything up in a satisfactory way.
I did have to wonder if Hill would succeed where his Dad sometimes falls flat. Could he possibly top what had already happened in NOS4R2 and provide a really great ending.
There are things that Hill has obviously learned from reading King. You can see subtle nods to King’s work and his writing throughout. Of course he’s learnt from him. The guy’s a master of the craft.
But there are things King could learn from his son here. Like how to end a novel not just with a bang, but with heart, too. Because for all of its thrills and creepy parts, most of all NOS4R2 was a very touching, human novel. I grew to love every character and come the end, I found myself gutted that I had to say goodbye.
I for one will be waiting in line for the next novel from Mr. Hill. I’m happy to call myself a Constant Reader. Are you?