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review 2017-09-21 01:55
Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

A bloody fantastic ghost story.

 

Jude Coyne, an aging front man to a once popular heavy-metal band, is riding out his life and solo career in peaceful fashion. At 54, he works on his music in his home studio on a farm in upstate New York. He collects dark and twisted trinkets and young, goth girlfriends. He is ignoring the several metaphorical demons that eat at him.

 

When his personal assistant brings an odd 'ghost for sale' listing to his attention on a little known auction site, Jude doesn't even hesitate, doesn't think, doesn't ponder, he just buys. When the ghost arrives, an old suit packed in a heart shaped box, Jude is forced to face things once past.

 

This book is gritty, like heavy metal gritty. It's graphic. It's chilling.  It's absolutely heartbreaking. It has soul. It has music.

 

"Horror was rooted in sympathy . . . in understanding what it would be like to suffer the worst."

 

I love that thought. Loved it when I read it on the page and still days later, it's what really sticks with me about this book. True terror comes from reality. This book is a symphony of real life horror coupled with wild imaginings in the darkest of night.

 

Jude's girlfriend, Georgia, is my favorite - she's irreverent and crass with a vulnerability that made me love her. She and Jude look for desperate answers, running away from a ghost hell-bent on their deaths and I just sat on the edge of my seat hoping that I'd get some sort of happily ever after. And isn't that sort of an unreasonable desire in a horror book? Still, I wanted it, badly.

 

It's hardest for me to write about books that I love. The problem is three-fold, one part taming of the overactive squee drive, one part unwillingness to spoil the discovery for anyone else, and one part wrench and pull to find the things that resonate with me most and put them in words. Heart-Shaped Box hit all the right notes for me. I think I'm just going to have to leave it at this - I loved it, I couldn't read it fast enough, and I finished it with a satisfying sigh.

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-09-10 03:41
Heart-Shaped Box
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

 

Jude had a private collection.

- first sentence

 

A collection of the grotesque and bizarre. As a heavy metal star, that is part of his image, and he enjoys it. And that is why he jumps at the chance to buy a ghost on the Internet. Turns out it isn't the best choice he's ever made...

 

Jude is kind of a jerk. He's a singer and plays guitar, divorced with a slew of girlfriends he calls not by their names, but by the name of their home state. Thus, his current girlfriend is Georgia (20-something to his 50-something). His assistant, Danny (who happens to be gay) is often more of a friend to the girls than Jude is. So, when the ghost came, I wasn't that invested in Jude's safety (or survival). Luckily events throughout the book made me root for him and even like him enough to be invested in his survival.

 

I had no idea where the story was going and that was good, it kept me guessing. I love the twist about the ghost and about why it was meant specifically for Jude to buy.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I also enjoyed the other two other Joe Hill books I read (NOS4A2 and The Fireman). I love his writing and of course horror, so... I know Hill has been around for a while but I don't know why I never read his books until this past year. I'm so glad I did. I will look for more by him. Let me know if any of you have recommendations. :)

 

My favorite lines:

 

the radio was just background sound, the auditory equivalent of wallpaper.

 

He understood that the ghost existed first and foremost within his own head. That maybe ghosts always haunted minds, not places.

 

The ghosts always caught up eventually, and there was no way to lock the door on them. They would walk right through.

 

I read this book for the ghost square, because... well, the ghost. :)

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review 2017-03-24 15:53
I haven't felt this way about a book in a while!
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

I actually wanted to read this book for so long! I was super excited when I saw my local library had stocked it in there EPUBs so I ordered it. So glad I did! Joe Hill has this amazing style of writing, he brings his characters to life. He honestly doesn't mess you around either he puts you straight into the story. It took me 2 days to read this book as I was so into it! And will probably be talking about it for a while.

 

 

So lets get to the story, then shall we?

 

It's a ghost story. It has an atmosphere to it, then literally sent chill's down my spine while reading. If you are shocked by abuse, then this book might not be for you. I have my limit's and I was pretty disturbed by some of the scenes and plots in this tale, Just a heads up.

 

 

I loved Jude Coyne the main Protagonist His morbid collecting I mean you could totally imagine rockstars collecting that kind of stuff!

If you like a really scary.. Then I really, really recommend this book. I'm sure you guy's no my style of review's i hate giving away the plot of book's but i know 100% you guy's will love this.

 

 

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review 2016-03-08 00:00
Heart-Shaped Box
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill TW: Rape and Abuse

Def. not as good as Horns but not bad. It’s not scary but I can’t remember the last time a book caused scares like a movie so it’s not a big deal for me. I really read this kind of thing for the dark, creepy, and twisted, which Heart-Shaped Box has in spades. I do like how it’s not the bloodbath type of horror.

It is pretty standard with the plot and genre tropes but eh. It was entertaining.

It did take a while to get into. I wasn’t feeling it but it wasn’t bad enough to drop before 100 pages. It got better but I could stop reading it for the night with no compulsion to continue reading.
I do not like how it uses the “metal fans are all disturbed: the women sexually damaged and the men perverts” stereotype for every.single.one.of.them.

The surprise guest at the end felt…off. I totally understand her seeking them out and everything. But the way they went about it…just didn’t mesh, which made it feel shoe-horned in.
There are a couple of things I noticed though….Since the book was right about animal companions, why didn’t he go back and read it again? It could have been right about other things.
And how did they get away from the trouble they caused in the Denny’s? Why didn’t they call the cops or press charges or anything?
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review 2015-12-29 04:37
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

Find my full review over at Casual Debris.

Heart-Shaped Box should have been a novella.

Joe Hill’s debut novel deals with Jude Coyne, a self-interested burnt-out rock star who purchases a ghost off the internet. This transaction results in a series of events that forces Coyne to take responsibility for some past actions, and allows him the opportunity to escape his rut and build a foundation for a strong future. Hill tries to build a character-heavy horror novel, but the result is uneven, as ghost story and character examination often exist on separate planes, never truly fusing into a single, solid work.

Beginning as an interesting horror mystery, the novel soon turns into a road trip as dreary as its dusty landscape. Along with two guardian dogs, Jude and his lover, former stripper Marybeth, drive to each of their respective childhood homes to put to rest both figurative and actual ghosts from the past. (With bought ghost in pursuit, though most of the time you wouldn’t know it.)

Not much is achieved at Marybeth’s grandmother’s home, just a lost little girl and a tiresome Ouija board. Excitement abounds, however, when the group arrives at the former home of their ghost pursuer, when once again we have a horror thriller on our hands. The real disappointment comes at the end of the road, the arrival at Jude’s old homestead. What begins as a promising sequence with a strong character in Arlene Wade, Jude’s dad’s nurse, and a sickly and dying father who may or may not see and speak, ends up as a weak denouement for the novel as a whole. Hill had a great opportunity to achieve something of a study of Jude’s character in relation to his estranged father, but sadly all form of reunion is avoided. I wouldn’t want nor expect a heart-felt moment of forgiveness, not remotely possible for these two characters, but I would like something to happen between the two, some element of conflict, especially since this is supposed to be a mainstream horror novel driven by character. What better horror than to be forced to confront the father you've been running from all your life, and what a great contrast Hill could have built between disposed father and purchased ghost? But as I mention above, once the horror enters the pages, notions of character are flung aside, and since we are nearing page three hundred and fifty, what better time to have a climax than now?

Joe Hill evidently struggled with this book. There is a long list of names he feels he must thank at the end, people who have read various drafts in order to help the work along, and perhaps the novel suffer from too much feedback and input; too many cooks in the writer's kitchen (not to mention a few sous-chefs and some big dude with a deep fryer). Hill does at times come across as lacking confidence. He has the unfortunate habit of over-explaining characters’ motives rather than allowing the reader to gather that information through characterization, action, dialogue and all those other writerly tropes. This occurs frequently at the beginning of the novel, and once glaringly at the end, when Jude charitably slips some money into someone’s backpack. Since I included the adverb “charitably” I do not need to expand by adding a phrase at the end of that sentence for clarification, something along the lines of "in order to help her out because she was struggling and he sympathized with her unfortunate situation." Jude Coyne can’t seem to lift a hand without some narratorial comment which should have been stricken.

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