Ebook, $1.99 on Amazon at time of review
Three books make up a type of pseudotrilogy, with NOS4A2 being the third book in that trilogy. It’s a pseudotrilogy (yes I just made up that word) because there’s no reason to think that it’s a deliberate move, and it’s not a traditional linear progression within the storyline. However, The Shining, Doctor Sleep, and NOS4A2 are arguably set in the same universe and NOS4A2 hints that this a much larger universe with a lot of wonderfully cryptic and creepy potential.
That said, the first two books are not necessarily mandatory reading for Hill’s book to be an enjoyable read. I do want to get my hesitations with the novel out of the way first: I think that Heart-Shaped Box was a much more solid read because I think that Hill’s voice was much more his own in that novel. I think there are sections of NOS4A2 where Hill starts to mimic his father’s [Stephen King] voice in a way that detracts from his own work. This novel is much stronger when he swings back to his own territory.
The middle third of the book just drags. It took me three months to get through this book because I would read a few chapters, stop caring, and then come back in a few weeks for a few more chapters. However, the last third of the book is more than satisfying and finds the energy that the first third had to propel the novel forward.
At its core, Hill’s novel is a vampire tale where the vampire may or may not even know what he is. Vic finds herself drawn into the web of a monster who drives an antique car and has an obsession with Christmas and children-so much so that his own inner world is Christmas. This man becomes the driving force throughout Vic’s life, going so far as to draw her own son into the tale. Like The Shining, many of the interactions with the villain (who, like The Shining, is not a person but is the setting) are suggestive that Hill is talking about emotional healing and power imbalances but within this novel the ripple effect of cause and effect is played out with arguably a greater audience.
Ultimately, NOS4A2 reads like the themes present in The Shining are lifted from the individual and extended to the group. This is a good thing. While the middle third of the book gets bogged down in places, NOS4A2 is an interesting look at the monsters inside people and King’s multiverse-even if it is accidental.