02 Jun 2013

‘NOS4A2’ really scared me: a Joe Hill appreciation post

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I just finished Joe Hill’s latest novel, “NOS4A2,” and I hope there will be a glowing review in next Sunday’s Daily Journal.

I’ve told everyone I know to read this book, but I want to say more: don’t just read this one book by Joe Hill. Read ALL THE BOOKS by Joe Hill.

Joe Hill

Yes, yes, I know – he’s Stephen King’s son. But I think he’s better than his dad. King’s books have scared me, for sure, and I’ve enjoyed them, for sure, but Hill just gets me. I don’t think it’s accurate to say he’s the Stephen King of my generation – King’s stories will scare anyone, anytime – but Hill writes with such a youthful, geeky joy that I feel like he relates the most to my generation.

Maybe it’s because his first novel, “Heart-Shaped Box,” was all about rock ‘n’ roll – practically my second language – and in it he gave a shout-out to my favorite band, My Chemical Romance. It doesn’t hurt that a minor character in “NOS4A2” has a “Firefly” tattoo and says he’s saving up for a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” tattoo. The way to my heart is paved with Joss Whedon and MCR references.

I’ve read everything Hill’s published – his novels, his short stories and his incredible comic book series, “Locke & Key” – and I have yet to be disappointed. He’s scared me, made me think, made me paranoid, and above all else, he’s entertained me. And he’s done it in such a clean, simple way. His stories don’t waste time. His writing isn’t bogged down with goopy descriptions. He just tells it like it is.

“NOS4A2” is his best, easily. I don’t think I’ve ever gasped or jumped, as I would do at a scary movie, when I read a scary book. But this book made me do that, and it gave me nightmares. I cheered on the heroine, the amazing, courageous Vic, and I shuddered anytime the bad guy, Charlie Manx or his bumbling assistant, Bing, spilled blood on the pages. It’s been a long while since I’ve loved and hated fictional characters this much.

If you’re a geek who loves horror, Joe Hill is your king (no pun intended). Check out his novels for scary stuff, his short stories for a mix of horror and fantasy (his short “Pop Art” is one of the best stories I’ve ever read) and if you dig comics, please read “Locke & Key.” It’s scary, thrilling and exciting, and beautifully drawn.

If you’ve read “NOS4A2,” what did you think?

As I said, I’m hoping a full “NOS4A2” review will run soon in the Journal, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

  • I got here by searching “How scary are Joe HIll’s books?” because I bought NOS4A2 when it was on sale at Amazon. I even got the narration from audible. I used to love really scary stories and films, but not so much anymore. Interesting how you say that Hill “gets you”. I used to say the same about his father. Hmm, still wondering if I’d be too scared if I read NOS4A2. I gave up King for a dozen years or so in the middle of The Dark Half because it made me too nervous.

    • It is scary, but looking back on it months after I read it, what I remember is the heroine’s courage. She was one of my most favorite characters to read in a long time, so that’s what has stuck with me. I remember it scaring me, but I also remember rooting for Vic. So I say give it a try!