Pages: Hardback, 692
Publisher: HarperCollins, April 30, 2013
Opening Lines: "Nurse Thornton dropped into the long-term-care ward a little before eight with a hot bag of blood for Charlie Manx."
"Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.
"Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the everyday world and onto hidden roads that lead to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland. Mile by mile, the journey across the highway of Charles's twisted imagination transforms his precious passengers, leaving them as terrifying and unstoppable as their benefactor.
"And then comes the day when Vic goes looking for trouble . . . and finds her way, inevitably, to Charlie.
"That was a lifetime ago. Now, the only kid to ever escape Charlie's unmitigated evil is all grown up and desperate to forget.
"But Charlie Manx hasn't stopped thinking about the exceptional Victoria McQueen. On the road again, he won't slow down until he's taken his revenge. He's after something very special—something Vic can never replace.
"As a life-and-death battle of wills builds—hern magic pitted against his—Vic McQueen prepares to destroy Charlie once and for all . . . or die trying . . ."
~ Jacket copy
Because it's JOE HILL! If there was a chance that I might pass up a Joe Hill book, please alert people that the apocalypse has come. Okay, okay, that might be a little excessive, but I've loved this author since I first picked up Locke & Key. And I LOVED Heart-Shaped Box so much, I bought my dad and brother both a copy.
Since it has been a little quiet on this blog and I've only been rereading books, when I saw this available at our local library, it was inevitable that I would pick it up. I like Mercy Thompson, but she was getting a little tired and worn out. I needed new blood ^_~
Hmm, wow, I'm not even sure how to describe this one. Honestly, the jacket copy does better than I could ever imagine. Simply put, this book is a story within a story. It is about the childhood and adulthood of Vic McQueen clashing with the life of Charlie Manx. It is also about the differences between being a child and being an adult.
Quite simply, this book is about slippage and where the "inscapes" and this world collide. It reminds me a great deal of Talisman, The Black House, and It by Hill's father. In some ways, it could be argued that this book kind of pays homage to the Master who came before him and lead him into this craft. And it could also be a form of It for this generation. While Hill is definitely his own writer, it feel many loud elements of his father in his work. It's almost as though he is taking on his personage.
In many respects, Manx is almost a re-imagining of Pennywise the Clown. He does something to the children in order to stay young, he makes them promises about living in a better place (Christmasland or an eternal circus), and they mention that the children "float" in this new, happy place. Further, meeting Vic McQueen as a child and then seeing her battle Charlie as an adult had serious echoes of the children in It. In some ways, both Maggie and Vic reminded me of Stuttering Bill. The reader will also see the pseudo fragmentation of the mind between the beliefs of children and trying to make sense of that as an adult. Also, using Wayne really helped to hammer that down. In addition, Hill also plays a little more with the concept of mental illness and the fragmentation of the mind in trying to make sense of all weird shit from childhood.
"The difference between childhood and adulthood . . . was the difference between imagination and resignation." (533)
I loved the casual mention of Craddock and his suit, the tip of the hat to his father's books on the map of the "inscapes", and the use of pop-culture and media. For me, Hill has always been able to draw me in with the pop-culture and media. What drew me to Heart-Shaped Box was just that. Also, the fact that Lou was a super nerd, read comic books, and went to conventions made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. And this is not to mention the name of Vic's son!
It was s struggle to read this book. Knowing that my alarm clock would ring at 5:30 am, it was a fight to put this book down at night. However, everyday, it would be nestled into my purse and wait until I had a van run or a break. Everywhere I went, it came along. It got into my head like a damn drug.
This book was beautifully written! It took something beautiful and full of magic (Christmas) and turned it on it's head. Honestly, after reading this book, I'm not sure I will ever think about Christmas the same way. And I'm not looking forward to my head boss wandering around singing Christmas music . . .
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