- Title: Welcome to Night Vale
- Author: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Format: Hardback
- Other: GoodReads, Amazon
- Grade: C (3/5)
Welcome to Night Vale . . . a friendly desert community somewhere in the American Southwest. In this ordinary little town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are commonplace parts of everyday life, the lives of two women, with two mysteries, are about to converge.
Pawnshop proprietor Jackie Fierro abides by routine. But a crack appears in the standard order of her perpetually nineteen-year-old life when a mysterious man in a tan jacket gives her a slip of paper marked by two pencil-smudged words: KING CITY. Everything about the man unsettles her, especially the paper that she cannot remove from her hand. Yet when Jackie puts her life on hold to search for the man, no one who meets him can seem to remember anything about him.
Diane Crayton’s fifteen-year-old son, Josh, is moody and a shape-shifter. Lately, Diane has started to see the boy’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as he did the day he left when they were teenagers. Josh is growing ever more curious about his estranged father—leading to a disaster Diane can see coming but is helpless to prevent.
Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search to reclaim her routine life draw them increasingly closer to each other, and to this place that may hold the key to their mysteries and their futures . . . if they can ever find it.
For those of you who aren’t podcast listeners, Welcome to Night Vale is presented as a radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale, where strange things happen on a regular basis. It’s weird and humorous and wonderfully entertaining. I highly recommend you listen to it.
But even if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you can still pick up this book and not be lost. And for those of you who do listen to the show, it’s told from the perspective of two citizens from Night Vale(with the occasional interruption from our dear friend Cecil, host of the radio show).
Like the podcast, the book is wonderfully humorous. I love the tone and the ridiculousness of it. For me, this excerpt captures the humor perfectly:
“There are lights above our town, Night Vale. I am not talking here about the stars. No one knows what the stars are or what they intend, but they have remained in mostly the same order and have indicated no harm as long as anyone around here can remember. Astronomers keep trying to explain that stars are distant suns in the galaxies, but, of course, you have to take everything astronomers say with a grain of salt” (27).
To me, this is relatively reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I loved as well and is probably why I’m a big fan of Welcome to Night Vale.
The characters are people you root for. Even though Jackie and Diane are somewhat one dimensional (but this has to do with the nature of the book and town they live in), you still want them to succeed in their endeavors. And they still go through relatable problems. Okay, maybe not all of them are relatable. I don’t have a shape-shifting son and I certainly don’t have to worry about killer librarians, but there are still some things that are very real, like the struggles of growing up or forming personal relationships.
And the mystery is intriguing. It was like a puzzle I wanted to figure out. What crazy thing is going to happen next? Why are things in Night Vale the way they are? And so on.
However, it was also a little slow. But maybe that’s because this isn’t a genre I normally read. There were times where I was bored, but when that did happen, the writing style moved me along (like I said, I love the humor).
But the reason this didn’t get a higher rating from me is pretty simple: the ending was rather anti-climactic. And obviously I’m not going to go into detail, but it was a letdown.
However, this is still a book worth reading if you enjoy sci-fi humor or anything strange and ridiculous. It’s different from a lot of books I’ve read, and that’s always refreshing. Besides, if you love the podcast, how can you not pick up the book?