I heard about this novel on the radio morning show that I listen to every day when I take my kids to school. And since I’ve had great recommendations from the show in the past, I put it on my Audible list. I gotta say, I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this book.
NOS4A2 is a supernatural suspense novel by a master of horror, Joe Hill. The story takes place over the course of a young woman’s life, from when she was a small child until she faces down her demons. It comes out early on that Victoria McQueen can travel through thought to find lost things–though, at a price. She ends up in a struggle for her life against a man called Charles Manx. Kept eternally alive by his Rolls-Royce with the vanity plate “NOS4A2,” Manx elicits help from his simpleton sidekick, Bing, to kidnap children and their parents. Then Manx takes the children to the mysterious “Christmasland” where their fate remains uncertain.
I’ve read a bit lately about how protagonists–especially female protagonists–don’t have to be likable. And I think it’s true; I don’t have to like a character to want to know what happens to them. I do have to like a character to worry about their fate, and I think that may make a huge difference for some readers, some authors. In this book, I don’t think that Victoria McQueen is a particularly likable character. But I do think we care about what happens to her fate. She’s surrounded by much more sympathetic characters: her son, and his father. We care deeply about what happens to them, so we also care about what happens to Vic.
The special abilities that some of the characters had was very inspiring to me. I kept wondering what other kinds of abilities could characters have, and where would those stories go? The librarian character that Vic meets on her journey was one of my favorites of the whole novel.
I also have to mention how amazing Kate Mulgrew was in her reading of this novel. The performance was wonderful. My husband recognized her voice right away, but I was so wrapped up in the story and the storytelling that the voice and the words became one and the same. It was flawless.