Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

23129410. sy475 Title: Welcome to Night Vale
Series: Welcome to Night Vale #1
Author: Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor 
Source/Format: borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Fantasy 
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial, October 20, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
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.
After reading It Devours!, I decided to go back to the first book in the series, Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel. I was immediately intrigue by the synopsis, and I was ready to be back in Night Vale from the perspective of a different character. This time, the story is told from the perspective of Jackie Fierro (the local pawnshop owner), and Diane Crayton, Josh’s mother. Both of them are reoccurring characters in the series, and it was great to have a story from their perspective. And what a story it was!

The mystery of the book revolved around something as seemingly innocuous as simple slips of paper. However, considering that this was Night Vale, it was quickly apparent that simple and innocuous weren’t the right words to use about the situation. The papers were being delivered to people by a “man in a tan jacket holding a deerskin suitcase,” and they only said one thing: King City. I liked the overall story. The mystery was interesting and there were enough twists to keep me turning the pages.

The novel also showed the characters in their daily lives, including at their jobs. In Diane’s case, it also highlighted her personal life: she was a single mother who worked hard to raise her son, Josh. While Josh spent a lot of time wanting to know who his father was, which caused some friction between the two. Even so, I liked the bond between Diane and Josh. Individually, they were great characters, but I enjoyed reading the scenes when they were together. Jackie and her routines were also interesting. I enjoyed reading about how she ran the pawnshop (plus the rules for pawning an item), as well as how being nineteen for seemingly forever/decades/however long began to weigh on her as the story progressed.

At its heart, Welcome to Night Vale is a story about mothers and their children. It was also about Night Vale's ways and the odd way time flows—or doesn’t flow—and how it affects the relationships between others. Night Vale is a strange place: it’s a town fraught with danger where even going to the library is a perilous adventure in and of itself. And it was interesting to see the town from the perspective of parents who’ve raised their children there.

Overall, I enjoyed Welcome to Night Vale. It was a great story. Now more than ever, I’m excited for the third book in the series.

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