Thursday, June 13, 2013



When you were a kid, didn't you ever wish you could just hop on your bike and go wherever you wanted? Maybe if you were like me, you pretended to do just that whenever you went out for a spin up and down the street that ran in front of your house. Well, in Joe Hill's spectacular new book, NOS4A2, eight-year-old Vic McQueen has a sweet ride that does it for real: a Day-Glo blue Raleigh Tuff Burner with the ability to carry her wherever she wants to go via the Shorter Way, a covered bridge that no longer exists except when Vic needs it to. But Vic isn't the only person with a supernatural talent for slipping in and out of impossible places. Meet Charlie Manx, NOS4A2's "Big Bad," if you will. Manx owns a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, a beauty of a car but hell on wheels for anyone unlucky enough to find himself inside it. See, Manx has a thing for taking kids on joyrides in his car, delivering them to a place of his own twisted creation: Christmasland, ". . . where every morning is Christmas morning . . . ." And if you thought the worst a roadtrip could do to you is leave you with stiff legs and a sore back, imagine one that turns you into a, well, thing, a mockery of a human being with no living goodness left inside you because Manx, like the vampire his vanity license plate references, has devoured it all. That's what happens to the children who take a ride with good ol' Charlie Manx, and that's how he's able to live such an unnaturally long life.

You see where this is going, right? The inevitability that Vic McQueen and Charlie Manx will at some point cross paths? They do, first when she's an angry teenager looking for trouble and finding it in spectacularly horrific fashion (the Shorter Way bridge never steers her wrong), and again after a decade and some change spent battling alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression, when her own son is kidnapped by Manx. Her vow to put both Manx and his fantasyland into the dirt for good to save her son is downright epic, and when she gives chase on the wheels of an old Triumph Bonneville motorcycle with the same location-shifting abilities as her old Tuff Burner, you know she means

I absolutely loved this book, devoured it the way Charlie Manx devours children's souls. Reading it, I couldn't help but develop strong feelings towards its cast of characters, from the tragic (Vic) to the likeable (librarian Maggie Leigh and biker Lou Carmody) to the moronically evil (Bing Partridge, who "couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions written on the heel") and others still. Yes, this is one of those stories where you want Good, no matter how broken and flawed, to stand up and kick Evil right in the jewels. And guess what? She does.

NOS4A2 is the perfect book to kick off your summer reading season, so reserve your copy now!

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