So, the popular podcast series Welcome to Night Vale is getting a book this October. I’ve been looking forward to this since they announced it last year and ordered my pre order off Amazon months ago. But it’s August. This book won’t come out for another 2 months. So, why am I talking about Night Vale now? Simple, 1 I’d probably be talking about Night Vale anyway cause it’s such a great show and 2 I already own the book. …No, really. I have a copy of the new Welcome to Night Vale novel. How?
Well, I think I’ve mentioned that my mother works at an academic publishing company. What I haven’t mentioned is that my father works at another publishing company that does stuff for the government. As such. they are yearly invited to ALA, the American Library Association,’s annual conference, or as I like to call it ‘Library Con’, that takes place in a different city every year. This year it was last month in San Francisco. Since my sister’s college orientation took place the same week as the conference and they were both going anyway, we had a long 10 day trip out to California for it.
As I also work for my mother’s company, I got my own badge to wander around the exhibit halls, where they give out free advanced copies of not yet released books. My mother gets them for us every year and this time my sister and I got to find them on our own. All, but one were then lost due to a mistake, but that’s not important. And the guy who plays Ron Swanson in Parks And Recreation was there and my sis had a grand old time at his panel.
While I was exploring the exhibit halls on the second day, as they change the books every day, I came by Harper Perennial’s booth. There was Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor giving out, I kid you not, signed FREE copies of the new book. (Which leads me to wonder how Cranor and Fink could stand being at Library Con when they were surrounded by Librarians!) So of course I picked one up, got it signed, and promptly canceled my pre-order. …And later uncanceled it, because. My reaction later on once the shock wore off went something like this:
Point is, yes, I was able to read the Night Vale book before it was published and so here’s a review of it. I won’t give away any spoilers, at least none that aren’t in the first four chapters available on ’12 Books you can’t miss at BookCon 2015′ which you can get for free on ITunes (And I checked, it’s still there), because I’ll probably be sued otherwise, but I’ll give you a general overview and opinion on it.
Here we go *Deep breath*
It’s good. Really good.
It has everything you’d expect from Night Vale: crazy and bizarre, sometimes dangerous, things being completely commonplace and ordinary (Librarians, mysterious lights, angels (Who, of course, are not angels (legally)) constant government surveillance and monitoring, having to bleed to open doors, etc. You know, the usual. Tuesday.), all your favourite characters, callbacks to previous episodes, Carlos and Cecil’s relationship, community radio, the list goes on and on. The fact that it’s written by the show’s writers/ creators alone is worth the price ($14.99 hardcover on Amazon, reserve your copy now), but the story itself is intriguing, heartwarming, and will keep you guessing. It’s part mystery, part sci fi, part conspiracy thriller (which considering it’s Night Vale is no surprise), part family drama, part horror.
The plot revolves around two different Night Valean women, Jackie and Diane. One’s a perpetually non aging 19 year old owner of the local pawn shop, the other’s a working single mother with a teenaged son, Josh, a shapeshifter who wants to know about his long since absent father. Ordinarily, they have nothing to do with each other, but when the plot rolls around in the form of The Man in the Tan Jacket (hey, he’s still around) and Diane’s ex-love (Josh’s father), their worlds collide thanks to two words on a piece of paper: ‘KING CITY’.
As far as I can tell, the story fits in with the current episodes of the podcast, though I suspect there will be hints to the novel as we near the release date in October. At the very least it takes place after the 3rd anniversary episodes ‘Taking Off’ and ‘Review’. However, like comic books and the live shows, you don’t really need to be caught up on the podcast in order to enjoy the book. It’s nice if you do, but it’s not required. Newcomer fans may be thrown off by the way the book is written, as it’s written like almost a long episode of the show in some ways (More specifically like the episodes ‘A Story About You’ and ‘A Story About Them’), but if you’ve listened to even one episode of the show, you’ll know what to expect and be fine.
If you like any of what I’ve written above and strong female characters (and I mean well written, believable (for Night Vale), sympathetic characters who are women), I highly recommend this book.
“Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel” will be released on October 20, 2015. A US book tour will take place following the book’s release and tickets can be bought at the sites listed here. I’m not sure how much it is in other places, but for just a Chicago ticket it was $10. There will be a book signing following a Q&A. If you don’t have a book you can buy one along with the ticket for an additional $18 (At least in Chicago).
The book is also available as an audiobook narrated by The Voice of Night Vale himself, Cecil Baldwin, and includes various guest voices including Dylan Marron as Carlos.
ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD!
(Photo via Me)