So this is my attempt at a concise and short review. Ugh, sorry.
I’m super stingy with my five stars. The longer I continue to read, the pickier I get. Most books fall somewhere between a three and a four for me. But N0S4A2 is getting the full five stars it deserves. It captured me from the creepfest of an opening scene and held me until the very end. It made me laugh with its unexpected dark humor, made me teary for the main characters who suffer through so much and it creeped me the heck out. Did I already say that? Yeah, well it takes a lot to creep me out so it’s worth repeating. Books like this are the reason I keep plodding through so many meh ones.
You’re best going into this story cold which is what I did. I avoided reading any in depth reviews because I didn’t want anything spoiled. So I’ll be brief and just say it’s about a woman named Vic who discovers a magical bridge when she’s a child. This bridge allows her to find things. One day she heads out looking for trouble and the bridge helps her find it, leading her straight to villain Charlie Manx, owner of the N0S4A2 vanity plate and creator of a place called “Christmasland” (a nightmarish and sinister place that’ll probably give you nightmares) who dubs himself the “CEO of Christmasland, The King Shit of Turd Hill”. Vic’s interaction with King Shit will plague her for years to come.
Vic is not a perfect person. She’s actually very troubled. She’s a mess who makes poor choices and screws up but, and a very important but it is, she owns it. She’s not a “poor me” type. She knows she’s a screw up and through everything I always understood and sympathized with Vic. Probably not everybody will agree with me though.
I thought the story was incredibly imaginative. It went wherever the hell it wanted and I found that very unnerving because as I kept reading along, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into nor how any of it would end. Like Hill’s previous book Horns, this book does a pretty good job of destroying your heart and I think that’s what I love so much about his writing. I felt everything right along with the characters. Hate, love, fear, hope, pain, grief and humor. It’s all there and he slammed me with all of those emotions when I was least expecting it. Curse you Joe Hill (and please keep writing like this).
I listened to this book as unabridged audio narrated by actress Kate Mulgrew AKA “Red” on “Orange Is the New Black” (and if you’re not watching it on Neflix you really should be). Early on in the book her incorrect pronunciation of Haverhill (it's not Hav-er-hill all proper-like, it's Hayv-rill in these here parts) drove me a bit mad but I got over myself soon enough and just fell into the story. Mulgrew has a gritty voice perfectly suited to rough around the edges Vic and her voicing of Charlie Manx was chilling, whispery and spot-on for the evil character. She did justice to all of the other characters too.
I love, love, loved this book. Loved it to death. I know I sound like a raving fangirl but I hope I’ve explained why I loved it. These damn five star reviews are the hardest to write.
Don’t waste any more time reading my silly thoughts, go read this book. I hope you’ll love it too.