My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First off, if you're not listening to Welcome to Night Vale, go listen. It's free here www.welcometonightvale.com . Otherwise we get inane reviews stating 'well I didn't listen to the podcast and now I never will.' If the podcast isn't your thing, this book won't be either. It's a lot like The X-Files meets Douglas Adams or Terry Prachett. It won't be everyone's cup of tea. It is, however, mine. That said, I didn't feel like the book lived up to its hype or to the podcast that inspired it (even though it is written by the same creative team).
It's not bad but it's not particularly memorable either I'm sad to say. I wanted to love this. They made an interesting choice of point of view characters, Jackie who has been nineteen for decades and runs the pawn shop and Diane, a mother whose son, Josh, is constantly shape shifting from lamp shades to winged, hooved creatures and a thousand things in between. Diane is also the only person who remembers the Man with the Tan Suit at work now that he's gone. (He's one of the running characters from the show).
Here's the thing, they're not really characters from the podcast that anyone really cares much about (I'm not even sure Diane was one because I've heard them all and if she was, she was just that memorable). Cecil (the radio personality, main character of the podcast) and his boyfriend the very handsome scientist, Carlos (along with Dana, former intern and now mayor, Tamika Flynn, Old Woman Josie and the Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your House) are the usual suspects people tune in for. They are relagated to minor roles in this book. That's a risky thing. It sometimes works. Witness Blink on Dr. Who where the Doctor is only seen briefly and we follow a character no one has seen before and it was briiliant.
In spite of the well known fantasty authors and SF personalities proclaiming this book to the heavens, it's not brilliant. I never did care much for Diane or Jackie until maybe the last fifty pages of the book. They just weren't particularly engaging. Jackie and Diane's son both were given a piece of paper by the Man in the Tan Suit saying only King City, a piece of paper they can't put aside which sends them on a huge adventure.
An adventure that takes too long at 400 pages, this felt like at least 100 pages too long. Carlos at least had one or two scenes. Cecil didn't. His entire apperance was in the form of short radio shows (more bizarre than even his usual) and one where he's talking on the air with one of the women and Carlos.
So, I'm glad I read it. I would read another and hope they'd go with Cecil and Carlos or maybe Tamika. I'd be interested in that. That said I wouldn't be running out to buy it. Thank heavens our libraries are safer than those in Night Vale.
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