Hill, J. (2013). NOS4A2. New York: William Morrow & Co.
Paperback $17.99, Hardcover $28.99, Kindle $9.99, 720 pages
Author’s Website and Interviews:
Annotation: Christmasland was not a festive place full of magic and wonder but rather Charles Manx’s disturbing creation filled with death and madness.
Summary (Warning Semi-Spoiler): Charles Talent Manx had been a notorious child abductor who lured children away in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. Now he lay in a coma on the brink of death at a maximum security prison. The book then shifts back in time to 1986 and introduces Victoria McQueen, a young girl whose bicycle has the power to recall a demolished bridge known as the Shorter Way Bridge which helps her find whatever she is looking for. During one of her journeys through the covered bridge, she meets Maggie a librarian who has the power to cut a knife into reality using Scrabble tiles which she uses to spell out the name of the man hunting Victoria, the “Wraith.” On her way back through the bridge, Vic loses her bike and becomes violently ill. Although everyone believes Manx to have died in prison, he is very much alive and recruits the help of Bing, a mentally deranged chemical plant worker whose job is to use gingerbread flavored gas to abduct the children and their parents, who Manx believes are depraved and unfit. Manx takes the children to his inscape, a twisted reality he has created called Christmasland. Victoria had managed to escape Manx’s clutches once before but she must use her bridge once again to travel to Christmasland to stop him from taking the one thing that matters most to her, her son Wayne.
Evaluation: I found this book to be extremely creepy and disturbing and there were times I had to put the book down and walk away due to the horribly vivid imagery. Hill’s writing is compelling, disturbing, dark and transports the reader into the mind of Manx and Bing’s madness. The characters are complex and I developed a vested interest in the plight of Victoria, Lou, and their son Wayne. The book is over 700 pages long which I didn’t find to be too much and never felt like the story became redundant. Every page had a new twist and turn and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see how it would all play out. The writing is horror at its finest and I am still haunted by certain passages, images, and scenes. Perfect book for anyone who enjoys horror mixed with a touch of the supernatural. There were times I felt the writing was somewhat comical, especially at inappropriate times which made it all the more creepy.
Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, creepy, suspenseful, compelling, and intricately plotted
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
- It, by Stephen King
- Neverland, by Douglas Clegg
- The Lake, by Richard Laymon
Awards: Library Journal Top Ten, 2013 School Library Journal’s Adult Books 4 Teens, 2013 Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award-Best Novel
- Hook the reader by reading a very gory or creepy passage. Do not reveal any names and make them guess the character involved.
Book Discussion Questions:
- What does the license plate NOS4A2 mean? Why is this word significant to Charles Manx?
- How are Victoria McQueen and Charles Manx connected? Did you ever feel like this was all in her mind?
- Why did Manx recruit Bing? Did you find his character scarier than Manx’s? If so, why? When you are first introduced to his character did you immediately get a sense that he was “bad”?
- What role did Maggie play in helping Vic find Manx? Did her past as a junkie and a prostitute discredit her in anyway? Did you trust her as a character?
- Why does Lou smash the ornaments at the end of the book? How does this impact Wayne? Were you surprised by the ending?
The title of the book immediately drew me in and I had to know what it meant. I found this title while browsing through horror books on Amazon and decided to download it on my Kindle after seeing that it had received 4 out 5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I haven’t read many horrors novels and the fact that this one was able to make Christmas look extremely creepy immediately sold me!