Joe Hill, oldest son of the uber-famous Stephen King, released this 692-page novel in 2013. “NOS4A2” tells the tale of Victoria McQueen and her lifelong battle with reputed child kidnapper Charlie Manx.
Pause, side note: “NOS4A2” has been adapted into a TV series on AMC, starring Zachary Quinto as Manx. The series premiers later this year!
Play: Vic discovers she has a special ability, the ability to find things. She thinks about what is lost and rides her bike through a covered bridge that takes her where she needs to go. One day she goes looking for trouble and gets transported to Manx’s house.
Manx, we learn, has a similar ability. He doesn’t find things though, he takes them. He takes children to an amusement park world he created: Christmasland. He takes them to Christmasland in his Wraith, a car very much like Stephen King’s Christine. Christmasland is where children live forever, never age, and are always happy. It is a place where, shocker, it is always Christmas.
Why does he do this? Because during their journey to Christmasland, while trapped in the Wraith, Manx is taking the children’s souls and feeding himself, slowing his aging process.
“The road to Christmasland removes all sorrows, eases all pain, and erases all scars. It takes away the parts of you that weren’t doing you any good and what it leaves behind is made clean and pure.”
The concept may seem silly, but Hill executes it very well. He throws in a ton of nods to his father’s work which I am still torn about. They were cool, but also seemed lame at the same time. If we’re getting really picky, Hill’s descriptions and voice aren’t very strong. The story was great, the idea was there, but there wasn’t enough of the bad-guys and the plot seems a bit thrown together at times.
Hill introduces the readers to Bing Partridge. A psychopath, to put it simply. He’s a vile human being who aids Manx in his abductions. Bing was an excellent character and, in the end, the duo of him and Manx was not utilized nearly enough.
One thing Hill did do very well was highlight the struggle of those who have faced and dealt with past traumas. We get to see how Vic’s first, almost fatal confrontation with Manx affected her entire life. We get to see her at her lowest point, but we also get to see her rise from the ashes to save her son from the clutches of Bing, Manx, and Christmasland.
The first third of the book is very interesting and informative. The middle third is a tad boring and the novel seems to stall. The last third though… Hill seriously kicks it in gear. The finale of this one is something seriously crazy to read. It’s an experience.
I think this novel had a lot of potential and a lot of very awesome details that were not given the time or descriptions they deserved. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this one and I am very interested to read more from Mr. Hill, especially the prequel graphic novel, “Wraith.” “Wraith” gives the readers some much needed Manx back story. I’ll be reading and reviewing that one soon.
“After all: Christmas is just a state of mind, and as long as you keep a little holiday spirit in your heart, every day is Christmas Day.”
In the end, I really liked it, but there was a bit too much I found myself shaking my head about, and maybe that’s my fault for comparing Hill to his father too much? I definitely still recommend you check it out because I know a lot of people who swear by “NOS4A2.” If you do pick it up, be sure to read the last section “A note on the type” for a hidden epilogue!