N0S4A2 is the third novel by author Joe Hill, and it is the best novel by Joe Hill. I thought his first novel was my favorite til I read his second. Then that one was my favorite. Now this one is my favorite. But they’ve all been awesome and he was already cemented as one of my favorite authors before this book even came out.
It’s his most ambitious work to-date as far as size and scope of the story. It’s over 600 pages, but since I couldn’t put it down, it took me only a few days to read. It’s an action-packed ride from start to finish and so much is packed in to the 600 pages, but it never feels overwhelming or too busy. It feels just right.
I thought it was a straight up vampire novel based on the title, but the further in I got the more I realized what a short sell that is for what’s actually happening. It’s so much more than that. The main big bad is a vampire of sorts, but the story isn’t really even about him. It’s about Vic – a lost but determined woman who gets put into impossible situations and finds herself fighting for her life and for her son’s life. She’s a very strong female lead character and one I didn’t actually like all that much for a good portion of the book. But I think that’s because she was so real. Hill wrote her as a real, flawed, imperfect person and she is fully realized in this novel. The depth of this character is astounding.
The supporting cast are also well-written and defined, even if they get so much less screen time than Vic. Lou, Vic’s former lover and father of her child, is my favorite hands down. He’s a large man with an even larger heart, and he’s a geek. So I was tickled pink to stumble across his Browncoats references and various other fun insider bits. I love that we live in a world with such great pop culture easter eggs. I also love that Hill is also a Whedon fan (even if he admits to never having watched Buffy). It was sort of this perfect little bridge of my worlds – my TV/movie geekdom and my bookworminess were so excited at Lou’s world. But that stuff aside, Lou was just somebody I wanted to hang out with, on top of which he was also the big sweetheart of the story and I really just wanted to give him a hug and tell him it’d be ok.
I don’t want to get into plot so much because I went in fairly blind (with my misassumption about the vampire thing) and I loved that I had no idea where it was going or what would happen when I turned the page. It’s more fun that way. It’s a unique story unlike anything I’ve read before, but so was Horns and so was Heart-Shaped Box. Hill has a penchant for thinking outside the box when it comes to his stories and he has the talent to put his ideas on paper with a grace that is absolutely stunning to behold. I was sad when I finished it because I was done living in his head for the time being, until he comes out with his next greatest novel ever.