Monday, 9 May 2016

Welcome to Night Vale - A Novel // a nice story that could have used far fewer words

Title: Welcome to Night Vale
Authors: Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Warnings: mentions of blood
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Book Depository

If you're unfamiliar with it, Welcome to Night Vale is an extraordinary bi-monthly podcast about the bizarre goings on of a fictional town, reported by a community radio presenter. It's creepy, confusing and far from ordinary. This novel of the same name is based on two women living in Night Vale who find themselves linked by two words: King City.

The story in book form didn't work for me, primarily because I kept reading it in Cecil (the voice of the podcast)'s voice. I found the audiobook much more accessible - and would suggest that everyone listen rather than read it. Night Vale's words are meant to be heard, not read.

The podcast is often filled with immersive imagery and double meanings within every sentence, but I found that the book was largely lacking that. This meant that a lot of it ended up feeling like random strings of nonsense. Although that's largely what Night Vale is, it works for a 20 minute podcast, not 12 hours of audio.

All the time dedicated to trying to confuse the reader could have been spent fleshing out what, beneath a surface of confusing prose, was actually a pretty good story. It's hard to pinpoint where the story actually kicks in because it kept drifting in and out, but when the theme of family and relationships shone through towards the end, it was actually really beautiful. Sadly my attention kept wavering and so I feel like I missed out on some parts that would've been important to the story. It was just hard to distinguish between plot and weirdness.

The process of listening was frustratingly long. Plenty could have been cropped out to tell the same story in a clearer way. But things do come together in the end and the story and it is very sweet, if you have the patience for it.
Diversity Note: mixed race protagonist. M/M relationship. Characters don't seem concerned with confining their sexualities with labels.

1 comment:

  1. Ya know...I've seen mostly lukewarm reviews for the Welcome to Nightvale novel. And while that kind of consistency would be enough to discourage me from reading a book...I still really want to read this one. I don't know what it is. Maybe the novelty of it?