Book review: Welcome to Night Vale (and brief film review: Star Wars)

It is hard to know how to begin — or, indeed, continue — a discussion of the novel Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.

It is, of course, based on the wildly popular podcast of the same name. (And if you are unfamiliar with the podcast, go and start listening to it now.) At first, I thought that a familiarity with the podcast was probably necessary to enjoy the book, but the more I consider it, I do not believe that to necessarily be the case.

The book, although intrinsically Night Vale, takes a different approach than the podcast (which takes the form of a community radio broadcast). Following two central characters — Jackie Fierro and Diane Crayton — it explores some of the weirdness  and conspiracy that is Night Vale. Along the way it addresses some of the enduring, repeating mysteries of the podcast (the man in the tan jacket, for example). It is difficult to say more than that (and not just because members of a vague, yet menacing, government agency might intervene).

Night Vale, in both book and pod cast form, defies easy explanation. It is quirky and weird, a little scary and paranoid. Above all, it is gloriously written, however. The use of language is both delicate and unexpected.

Just go and read. Or listen. Or both.


This past week, I also (along with everyone else) went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Some slight spoilers follow so…)

I won’t say much other than, I am just so happy that it is as good as it is. It takes much of its inspiration from A New Hope, which is not a bad thing. Rey, as others have already gone about at some length (here for example), is a worthy main female character. She is strong and independent in the best ways.

The story itself works. There may be issues with the science of some it (in particular the superweapon that the First Order has built), but given the larger context of the story, I personally find that forgivable.  And the characters, new and old, are largely compelling. (I have some issues with Kylo Ren, who I think was too whiny, but Aran had no such issues with him.)

Anyway, I loved it. I will watch it again (well, more than once more again) and will have deeper thoughts then.

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