Stephen King’s latest offering to the Hard Case Crimes series feels more like an episode of Scooby Doo than it does a noir novel.
But it makes absolutely no difference because Joyland is an absolute joy to read.
Seeking to escape the memories of his first love, Devin Jones signs on for the summer at the Joyland theme park in North Carolina. Jones quickly finds himself immersed in the park, making new friends and curious about the history of one of the rides that is reportedly haunted.
Part coming of age story, part supernatural story, part mystery, King’s Joyland is a pure, character driven delight. As with the best King stories, everything is foreshadowed early and paid off before the novel’s final page is turned.
Joyland is one of the most compelling and page-turning novels I’ve read this summer. It’s King doing what King does best — telling a hell of a story, making you want to read just one more page, one more chapter and then feeling a twinge of regret when you reach the end. One of the most satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time and it only goes to show that King hasn’t lost that magic touch.
One of the more intriguing trends in the publishing world is authors from one targeted demographic attempting to crossover and target another demographic. For example, J.K. Rowling recently published her first “adult” novel with The Casual Vacancy while Elizabeth George went after a young adult audience with The Edge of Nowhere.
And while I’m not one who judges a book by the section of the bookstore or the library where it’s shelved, it’s intriguing to see what happens when an author gets out of his or her comfort zone.
You can add to the list of best-selling authors who are looking to expand their audience writer Brandon Sanderson (who given how much output he has and the sheer length of his novels, I am beginning to wonder if he somehow has figured out a way to write a novel using telepathy and while he’s asleep). Every publisher is looking for the next big fantasy series along the lines of Harry Potter and given Sanderson’s pedigree in the fantasy genre, a young adult series from him seems like a good idea.
Enter The Rithmatist.
All of the strengths of a Sanderson fantasy novel are on display — a magic system that has clearly defined rules and limitations so it can’t be used to write himself out of any situation or peril that comes up as well as having characters have different degrees of ability within the magical system. Like all talents or traits, there are some who have a better grasp of some elements of the system while others have a better grasp of others. In this case, the magical system is one that brings chalk drawing to life and they do battle. There are various ways in which battles can be won and there is a skill and a strategy to it. Sanderson spends a lot of the novel laying out the rules and strategies of his new magical system, but he also allows them to play out on the printed page and for the reader to see the system in action.
After reading Horns, I had huge expectations for Joe Hill’s next book. His next novel couldn’t come fast enough for my liking and as the days, weeks and months went by, the memory of Horns just grew and grew in my mind becoming better and better.
And yet, there was no word on a new novel by Hill.
Then, finally, I heard rumblings that a new novel was headed our way. At long last, I thought, I can finally read the NEXT Joe Hill novel.
And so it was that I eagerly put the novel on reserve at my local library and then proceeded to check back on my hold list every couple of days to see if maybe, just maybe, it had entered the system yet and if it might be on its way to me. Finally, that glorious day arrived and I eagerly headed over to the library to pick it up, only to be pleasantly surprised that Hill’s latest novel was thicker than his first two. The close to doubling in size of his output from Horns to NOS4A2 quickly made me forgive Hill for making me wait so long for a new novel and that much more eager to lose myself once again inside the pages of his novel.
With those kind of expectations, it’s hard for any book to live up to them. And while I can say that NOS4A2 isn’t the same overall experience that Horns was, I can say that the novel was equally impressive and just as enjoyable.