Thursday, October 26, 2017

Four short novels by Joe Hill

Strange Weather

Joe Hill

Publisher: William Morrow

Pub Date: October 24, 2017

Rating: 4 & 1/2 out of 5 stars

I believe I have read all the novels that Joe Hill has written and published. So I feel fairly secure in saying that he has a certain weakness that he shares with a particular relative. he is subject to long novels that tend to have too much filler.It is no coincidence that his best novel, Heart Shaped Box is also his first and shortest. In my opinion, last novel The Fireman was impressive but way too long for the plot. On the other hand, NOS4A2, was just as long and fantastic so what the hell do I know?

Here in Strange Weather we have four short novels. Novellas. I do not believe any goes over 200 pages. From the strength of this book, I would say novellas are something he might want to focus on more. Each one has the right length, stays on track and, for the most part, rocks and rolls. All of them has elements of horror although at least two are not technically a horror story and one has no supernatural elements. This would be a good book for the Joe Hill novice to wade in to see what he can do.

Let's go over all four.

Snapshots is a very clever supernatural thriller that involves a boy who meets a strange man with a strange camera. Without giving it away, it's a clever gimmick and Hill makes it works partially because the teenage boy is so believable in his vulnerabilities. It is the closest to a straight horror tale in this collection and is the closest to the type of story that the other relative made so famous. For those who remember the old Polaroid cameras, it will make you wonder a bit. Five stars.

Loaded is by far the best novella here. It is not so much a horror story as much as a topical suspense thriller. There is definitely a sociopolitical message here. It starts with the murder of an innocent boy by a policeman then moves some years into 2013 to pick up another situation is unnerving and unfortunately way too possible today. There is some really good development of characters for such a short novel and the ending is explosive. It makes me hope that the author writes some more non-supernatural suspense in the future. He certainly has the skills. Five Stars

Aloft is fantasy where a skydiver lands on a strange cloud and is held prisoner. It felt a little Lovecraftian to me although it really isn't. It has a nice imagery while describing this strange trans-formative cloud. Four stars.

Rain is the only one that lost me. It has a great starting idea for a world wide catastrophe but it simply didn't hold me. The usual well-define characters didn't make it here to this party. There appears to be a social allegory in this one too but I don't think it took hold as nearly well as the allegory took place in Loaded. But Hill can't write a bad story so three stars.

So seventeen stars altogether averages to 4.1 stars. But the first two stories are so good I'm going to say 4.5 stars easily. What is really important is that Joe Hill has delivered 4 quite different short novels and hit it out of the ball park twice, gave a solid effort on the third and...well most people loved that one so let just say I am in the minority. As I stated, this is a good beginning read to learn what the author can do. But if you, like me , just happen to love novellas then it is pretty much essential reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment