[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorWelcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Series: Welcome to Night Vale #1
Published by Harper Perennial on October 20, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT+, Science fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 401
ISBN: 9780062351425
The verdict: three-half-stars
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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.

Let me begin by saying I adore Welcome to Night Vale… the podcast, that is. It is wacky, and cute, and warm, and creepy, and I love it. And if you aren’t listening to it yet you should give it a try. Last year the WTNV crew also did a live tour and visited Amsterdam, and I went. And it’s hard to describe how much that night meant to me. Before that, I was going through a period where I had trouble connecting to the world. But that night gave my life a little bit of shine and (although I don’t think WTNV was single-handedly responsible for this) after that everything got sort of better as far as the disconnectedness goes.

So yes, I love WTNV, and as a result I was really looking forward to this book. Preordered it the moment I heard about it. Went so far as to get a signed edition from the US.

And… ah. I won’t say the book is a disappointment, but it also didn’t live up to expectations. I hate it when that happens.

The book isn’t great, but it also isn’t bad. It was just sort of meh? I know the book had big boots to fill what with the podcast being a piece of perfection, and it seems Fink and Cranor might have overestimated their abilities. Now I sound mean, I don’t mean it in a bad way, the book wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the podcast. Ouch.

I had two three problems with this book: Firstly, it was unnecessarily slow. I don’t need the book to be a wild roller coaster ride and move too fast, but the story and descriptions just went on and on. Getting through the first 300-or-so pages felt like a big task. This brings me to my second problem: the style that works for the podcast just doesn’t work for a book. The beginning was too random, too quirky, and all that is fun, fantastic, in the podcast, but apparently not for a 400-page book. If anything its quirkiness made the book feel kind of unfinished? And then my third problem (which was also a cause for my first problem?) is that I didn’t care about the characters all that much. I just didn’t care about their problems, and the book also didn’t make me feel curious to find out how they were going to fix everything. This got better in the last 100 pages, and I ended up liking the characters quite a bit by the time I finished the book. But still, that’s not good enough.

I guess I was secretly hoping to learn more about the characters that we know from the podcast. Cecil, Dana, Carlos, Steve… but they all play minor roles. I think the book at least managed to introduce some sort-of-new characters and now that I finished the book I am happy to have gotten to know these characters. So yes, for most of the book I was considering giving it three stars, but it deserves an extra half star for the fact that I ended up caring for the characters after all. Hope to see them back in the podcast, I suppose?

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