Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I have one word to describe my experience with HEART-SHAPED BOX: disappointment.

I was really looking forward to reading this book because there has been so much buzz about it. Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King and his book was picked up before word got out about his parentage. I'm not big fan of horror but I was in the mood for a good suspense/ghost story.

HEART-SHAPED BOX is about a rock star named Judas Coyne who seems to be modeled after Ozzy Osbourne. Judas has a large goth following and collects items with dark associations. His assistant sees a haunted suit for sale on an auction site. If you buy the suit, you buy the ghost. Judas can't resist. And that is how his problems begin.

Joe Hill is a good storyteller but he is not a good writer. The book feels more like a screenplay. (This is exactly how I felt about the DA VINCI CODE) Because the writing is so simplistic, the book goes very quickly. There are very few surprises. The foreshadowing is so heavy-handed that it is easy to figure out what is going to happen. It didn't feel especially suspenseful or scary. The violence towards animals really bothered me, so if you are an animal lover...be warned.

Overall, I felt as if this book was a waste of my time. I didn't really enjoy it and I didn't find it suspenseful at all. I have heard good things about Hill's previous collection of short stories so I may try that. Perhaps it will be better.


Bookfool said...

Violence toward animals? Okay, I'll skip this one. I thought his writing was pretty good, myself, in 20th-Century Ghosts. Sometimes simple writing can be very powerful; but, I was leery about the storyline. Fortunately, it's one of the rare ones I found at the library. Thanks for the warning!

Malady said...

The only reason I am considering 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS is because you recommended it. Sometimes, this type of writing is better in a short-story format.

The animal violence is not gruesome. Just bothersome. It probably wouldn't bother most people but I am very sensitive to that sort of thing.

Literary Feline said...

I keep going back and forth about reading this one. I think I'll try his 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS based on Bookfool's review, but the jury is still out on this one.

Bookfool said...

I hope you see this . . . falling behind, here. I recommend 20th Century Ghosts *but* the collection is kind of a bizarre hodge-podge and I found that either a story worked for me and I was amazed by how his characters jumped off the page, or it left me saying, "What was the point of that?" So, it's not what I'd call a consistent book of short stories. If you're looking for consistency and sparkling writing, I'd go with The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy over Joe Hill's book (sweet and poignant vs. dysfunctional or scary or really off-the-wall). I guess it depends on what you're in the mood for. I savored Simon's book and enjoyed Joe's but sometimes had to set it aside because the characters were too real in their yuckiness.

Malady said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I will check both of those out.