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text 2019-01-04 18:23
Reading progress update: I've listened 584 out of 584 minutes.
It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

Finished! This was better than the first Night Vale novel, even though quite a bit of it was much more predictable. It took the characters way too long to even start thinking about other explanations for the holes appearing around Night Vale.

 

I preferred Nalanjana as protagonist more than Jackie (the first book's protagonist), and there were some interesting revelations about a couple different Night Vale storylines, like Carlos's time in the desert otherworld and stuff with the Smiling God. That said, I still think the style works much better for the podcast than it does for a book, even in audiobook form.

 

As someone who is a bit touch averse, I appreciated that Carlos is a character who generally doesn't like to be touched and that Cecil, his husband, and Nalanjana, a scientist he works with, respected this. At the same time, there was something about the way the authors wrote about physical intimacy (even just hugging or holding hands) that made my skin crawl. I'm not sure I can put into words why. Maybe the focus on little details related to the actions, like the warmth of the other person's skin? I don't generally have this reaction while, say, reading about similar actions in romance novels, so I'm not sure what my issue was here. At any rate, Nalanjana and Darryl's first date was kind of fun, but as a couple they wore out their welcome pretty fast.

 

My gut-level rating: probably 3.5 stars.

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text 2019-01-03 22:28
Reading progress update: I've listened 513 out of 584 minutes.
It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

If I'm right about what's going on right now, this is a surprisingly predictable entry in the ongoing story of Night Vale. Between the cover illustration and the past storyline with Kevin the Desert Bluffs community radio host, the nature of the Smiling God was pretty obvious. And I've had my suspicions about the timing of those holes ever since Carlos first talked about them.

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text 2018-12-28 05:38
Reading progress update: I've listened 390 out of 584 minutes.
It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

As unsettling and occasionally menacing as Night Vale can be, it has some aspects that are really nice. I'm sure everyone who enjoys the series has their favorite example. Mine, at the moment, is that Carlos doesn't like to be touched, and Nilanjana, one of his coworkers (employees?), does her best to respect this. At one point, for example, she almost touches his hand to comfort him before she corrects herself.

 

I tend not to even mention my discomfort with hugging, because at least one person I know responded by announcing "Well, I'm a hugger!" and grabbing me in a big hug. I really appreciate the people in my life who respect the fact that, if I want a hug, I will ask for it. That person...is not one of those people.

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text 2018-12-25 02:17
Reading progress update: I've listened 326 out of 584 minutes.
It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

Some notes:

 

- The next few hours could change this, but so far I think I like this more than the first Night Vale novel. I don't know if it's actually better in some way, or if my expectations have just been adjusted. I do think I like Nilanjana more than Jackie. It's nice to see Night Vale from an outsider's perspective (or an Interloper's perspective, as Night Vale natives would say).

 

- Sex in Night Vale involves an awful lot of paperwork. Even just casual sex. In fact, I would argue that casual sex doesn't really exist in Night Vale.

 

- The guy in the helicopter may work for a vague yet menacing government agency, but he's surprisingly nice and helpful.

 

- The thought of putting on clothes that someone else has vomited on makes me shudder. I'm surprised [redacted character] didn't object at least a little.

 

- I do kind of wish that this novel had a public library scene like the first one. It does have local government offices, though, and those are pretty creepy and terrible in their own right.

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text 2018-12-24 19:15
Welcome to Night Vale (Welcome to Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink

Read: May 2017

 

Edited review
Note to people who've never listened to the podcast: I will not tell you that you can only enjoy this book if you listen to the episodes, though it would help. From what I understand it's marketed as a stand-alone. Personally, I don't mind if you disliked it. Only too easy to be confused and feel like an outsider. It's a poor reflection of the podcast so please don't let this discourage you from listening.

----

When I say that I felt my mind bend several times throughout the book, I am not kidding. For some reason I still can't put a finger on, I was skeptical about the entire thing. I could suppose that I was so trained to the podcast format that the setup for the novel approach was ... puzzling. Who am I kidding? Honestly, it fell flat for me. There. I said it.

However, I am now satisfied in several respects with regards to the plots of certain episodes. For instance, I can now file the away the speculation that The Man In The Tan Jacket is not actually Cecil's long-forgotten brother.

Thanks to The Man and his stupid note, Jackie's become irritatingly aware of the oddness of her existence. Particularly pissed because her boring routine life has been unashamedly demolished. The order and the peace of mind it brought, gone. It should be a damn crime.

Diane is more complicated. A single mother having to try to communicate with an ever distant teenage shape-shifting son is nothing at all to sneeze at. Between that growing divide is the pothole of all potholes, his father Troy.

What's interesting was the way that the thought process of the characters was like collages of normal moments that you would experience in a day and then proceed to forget, only that here and there they are dissected to lay bare the bones of little facets of reality. On the other hand, it tends to go off tangent. My train of thought struggled to keep on track while I try to accept the weirdness of the text.

I consider the biggest success of Welcome To Night Vale is the treatment of the concept of normalcy. It is being consistently pounded into the ground. What's the normal in Burma? What does it look like in Kansas? What the hell is "normal" even? When I meet new people, I want to understand the way that their Normal has shaped them and affected their views of the world.

My knowledge of the podcast made me appreciate the book but I am woefully disappointed with it. At times it got pedantic. What a 20-minute episode could pull off magnificently ... this book could not come close to replicating, though it retained enough to be sort of nostalgic in a sense.

The shining star has always been Cecil Palmer, the richness lies in the diverse set of citizens whose boring and exciting escapades colour the landscape of Night Vale. I was glad to see Jackie and Diane interact with these familiar faces and their unique environment, in a way we've never seen before.

But this book took me months to digest, it was needlessly long and somewhat inconclusive, not to mention contained inside jokes that could easily alienate new people. That aside, I'm happy Fink and Cranor took the chance with the novel, hopefully, they can learn from it.

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