Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jefferey Cranor

Genre: Surrealist Humor
Release: October 20th
Publisher: Harper Perennial

Add on Goodreads

Night Vale fans rejoice! The Welcome to Night Vale novel is almost out, and it does not disappoint.
For those unfamiliar with the highly popular podcast, Welcome to Night Vale started three years ago as a story-based podcast set in the eerie desert town of Night Vale, where conspiracy theories are true and weird is the norm. Taking the form of a community radio show hosted by narrator Cecil, Welcome to Night Vale quickly became well known both for its surreal setting and humor as well as for its clever use of social commentary.
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel effectively pays tribute to the eerie weirdness of the desert town many of us have become familiar with, incorporating characters and locations already well known to listeners of the podcast, while also providing a completely new story easily accessible to those of us who have never heard of federally mandated pizza or hidden cities under the bowling alley. The story revolves around two women who deal with living in Night Vale as a single mother and as a business owner (respectively) in very different ways. It tackles issues concerning age versus maturity, the right time to share difficult information with children, and uncertainty over identity, all with a delicate mix of weird humor and sincerity.
Unfortunately, the novel suffers a little from stretches of inaction which are only slightly relieved by the various absurdities of Night Vale. It did at certain points feel very much like an extended episode of the podcast, which while entertaining felt at times like the balance between telling the story and establishing the setting became awkwardly lopsided.

That being said, once the action picks up the reader is once again pulled eagerly through the strange world of Night Vale. Overall, Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel, though a little slow and clunky at times, proved just as entertaining, spooky, and timely in its treatment of social issues as the podcast it shares a name with. It makes a great introduction to the world of Night Vale to newcomers, and scratches at the itch we listeners always feel between long awaited episodes. A great read for those who enjoy Kafka, Mikhail Bulgakov, Haruki Murakami, H. P. Lovecraft, or Stephen King.

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