I have to admit, my expectations were not high when I started reading this one. The idea of another “teenage girl in a dystopian shit show” story was not appealing to me. I wasn’t super impressed with Roth’s writing style, either. Like some other reviewers on here, the present tense storytelling really irked me. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised overall. It was well paced, the different factions were intriguing, and the unanswered questions were numerous enough to get me to read the next book, eventually. The ending came around so suddenly, though, due to the movie tie-in version given to me. There was so much bonus material, that took up about 40-50 pages, which deceived me into thinking I had a long ways to go. I didn’t realize the climax was the climax! Whoops. Guess I should have paid closer attention to the table of contents.
My last book club selection (that I read anyway – yeah, I’ve been a bad member lately) was Doctor Sleep, by my favorite author of all time, Stephen King. I had had NOS4A2 on my to-read list for a while, so when it ended up on our book club future list, I skipped ahead and read it. Why? Well, firstly, Joe Hill happens to be Stephen’s son, and I’ve really enjoyed his last two novels, Heart Shaped Box and Horns. Secondly, there were connections to Doctor Sleep. I was intrigued.
Victoria McQueen is special. She can create a psychic path, or inscape, in her head to help her find lost things. She hops on her bike and will always find a covered bridge that takes her where she needs to go. She’s not the only one with this talent that shows up in different ways. There’s Maggie, who can discover stuff with her bag of Scrabble tiles. And then there’s the monster known as Charlie Manx. He can stay young by kidnapping kids and transporting them to the terrifying Christmasland in his spooky Rolls Royce Wraith. These three come together in an intensely creepy journey. Holy crap, Christmasland is creepy. Oh, look, there’s a cute snowman! Why does it have an axe? AAAAGGGHHHH!!!! Thanks, Joe, for creating this wild saga. Vic was such a wonderfully flawed hero, as was her dude Lou. And Manx? Ewwwwwww.
I saw Stephen King do a talk at George Mason University back in 2011, and got the surprise of a lifetime (for a King fan, anyway) – he read a snippet of his sequel to The Shining! And now I’ve FINALLY read the whole thing. I loved his return to the world of the Torrance family. How in the hell would Danny be dealing with his experience at the Overlook as an adult? Would he still be seeing “pictures in a book”? Oh yes, and then some. The themes of friendship, family, the mentor and the student, alcoholism, and using powers for good are covered brilliantly. Life is a circle, King says, and everything comes back around. Of course there is the scary stuff too. Uncle Stevie knows how to bring it. The group known as the True Knot, vampire like beings that feed on the “steam” of gifted children – extremely creepy and formidable. I’ll never look at recreational vehicles the same way. King’s writing is so familiar to me. Reading this novel was comforting, in some weird way. Tears were shed at the end, not gonna lie.
I surprisingly enjoyed this novel, despite it being yet another witch book. The twist on the Beauchamp family’s origins was interesting, and for some reason, the story kept me hooked. The chapters were short and to the point. Definitely not the greatest thing I’ve ever processed with my eyeballs, but yeah, I liked it. I give it bonus points for the surprise appearance of one of my favorite Norse gods! At some point, I’ll seek out the next chapter in the series, when I’m in the mood for some mindless fun entertainment. I give it three stars.
I should add that this was one of my book club’s selections. I’m always grateful when one of the books surprise me. I can get cynical (no way, really, Meri?) and not want to read a pick when it seems like something I’m not going to like. Which is pretty dumb. THAT IS WHAT A BOOK CLUB IS FOR.