I had been a huge fan of the Welcome to Night Vale Podcast and had to read this book once i heard it was released. I actually picked up my physical copy while on holiday in America and a bookshop in New York. I also got it signed by the writers and the cast of the Podcast after a live show in Perth the book is pretty special to me.
Title: Welcome to Nightvale
Author: Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Date published: October 20th, 2016
Page Count: 401
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 ourselves…no 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.
The writing in this book is simply beautiful and it really embodies the atmosphere and the strangeness that is so prominent in in the podcast. At many times I did get a bit lost with the overload of information and ideas presented to us and the weird tangents that about minor details or aspects of the book,. However, the story was simple and straight forward, if there was a complex and overwhelming plot combined with these tangents it would have been too much to enjoy.
The story was very straight forward, to uncover the secret of King city and restore the two main characters lives to some sense of normality, which is pretty hard when they both live in night vale. I liked how the two seperate storied of the main characters slowly became entwined as they had more in more in common and were united with a common goal. But all the build up throughout the book led to a disappointing ending. I wish there was something more, a little bit closure and for some of the major plot points to be explained. I understand leaving things unexplained, as it is very Night Vale, where there is so much that is unexplainable.
The change between focusing on either Jackie or Diane at different parts of the book allowed different things to be explored. Combined with the omnipotent narrator , with insights into their feelings as well as the past and at times the future, it really allowed us to get a clearer idea of each of the two main characters-their motives, emotions, values and how they feel about each other. It also adds a bit more depth to their relationships a with each other and their family members.
Probably my favourite part of the book are the interlude where we have excerpts from the Night Vale Community radio show. We get to read as Carlos as reports the traffic, town news and adds in little hints throughout that ties into the main story. As a fan of the podcast the little nods and references to the characters and events that occurred in the podcast was a nice touch, however if you had never listened to the podcast these do not add anything important to the larger plot arc of the book.
While it was a great book that really captured the strangeness and weirdness of Night Vale in a book, it lacks something in the complexity of the plot. If you are fan of the podcast and want to experience it in anew way I definitely recommend this book. However, if you are new to the podcast or have never listened before, listens to a couple before diving into the book.