Welcome to Night Vale may well be the strangest book I’ve ever read. It’s the story of a small town where time is elusive and residents can take many forms, from human to spider-like shape shifter to sentient patches of haze. The story progresses as if told by a science fiction novelist with attention deficit disorder. The first 10 chapters made me feel as if I was crazy with conflicting ideas and rapidly changing perspectives. But the random statements sprinkled through the narrative made me laugh out loud… “Diane was like most people. Most people are.” And the fascinating ways of describing human behavior… “Her anger was a creature now, and it walked behind her, pushing her along.” kept me engaged.
(Image credit: Welcome to Night Vale FB page)
While I was never sure where things were going, there was enough character development that I had to read on. And I was constantly on the lookout for the pauses I found as I stopped to contemplate the wording, the descriptions of human behavior, and the ideas of parenting and relationships in general. There were several opportunities to think about my own life and how it compared and contrasted with those of the residents in Night Vale.
“There was a moment, the door was open but unstepped-through, where Diane thought she could still walk away and not become a person who had broken into anywhere in her life, but then she stepped forward and became that person forever.” ~ Welcome to Night Vale
Though it pushes the limits of reality, as much science fiction does, it was more fun and thought-provoking than absurd. This book is classified as horror fiction, which I see as I check it now on the web. Had I known this, I may not have read it, so I’m glad I didn’t. It was an interesting read and nothing too horrific to affect me in an ongoing way. (I did mention spiders, right? Something to consider. If you suffer from extreme arachnophobia, maybe not for you… but I thought the tarantula was adorbs.) I also didn’t know it would involve an absentee father theme but I found that aspect to be quite satisfying.
The source of this novel was an online blog and there were a few references which weren’t clear to me… for example, Bloodstone circles??? Perhaps their active blog readers will understand them, or perhaps they are seeds for explanation in upcoming stories about Night Vale. These kinds of things made me wonder, and hope for more explanation further into the book, but nothing left me hanging in an uncomfortable way. Regardless, my favorite thing about the book was the phraseology.
“She knew that messages were for the sender not the receiver.” ~ Welcome to Night Vale
The book may have been written by the authors for their own purposes… but I will definitely report: Message received.
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor was published in October, 2015. However, it is an inexpensive Hardcover read at $19.99 and you can pick one up at Cherry Street Books! 🙂
Check them out on FB: https://www.facebook.com/WelcomeToNightVale/