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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night ValeWelcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find matter where we live.

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked "King City" by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can't seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton's son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane's started to see her son's father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane's search to reconnect with her son and Jackie's search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: "King City". It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures...if they can ever find it.

I am a HUGE Night Vale fan. Have been since the podcast hit the airwaves. So I was really looking forward to reading the book for book group.

The book, while embodying Night Vale, lacks something as the written word. This would be (and was from what I heard when I listened to the first chapter) probably better as audio. As a book...I lost interest in the characters and plot and ultimately, did not finish. I'm right about halfway through - I put it down one weekend and never went back to it.

My main contention was I didn't care about the characters. They did not engage me, they did not interest me. Jackie is running around with a piece of paper in her hand from the Man in a Tan Jacket with a Deerskin Suitcase. The paper says King City. Diane is trying to figure out how to communicate with her morphing teenage son Josh, while pursing her ex - Troy - who seems to be showing up all over town. Jackie and Diane are somehow linked, but you know what...I didn't care.

And that was the crux of my problem with the written book - it didn't engage me. I had no empathy for Diane and her son. I really wasn't interested in Jackie. The only folks I had any interest in were Old Woman Josie and the Erica's, the Vague yet Menacing Government Presence and Carlos.

All the components of Night Vale are there - the Vague yet Menacing Government Presence, the Hooded Figures, Cecil, Carlos and his gang of scientists, the interns at the radio station, The Glow Cloud (All Hail!), The City Council...every thing from the podcast makes an appearance.

But not as an engaging plot.

Again, this might be better as an audiobook - it is narrated by "Cecil" who has a fabulous voice. But written? Didn't work for me.

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