by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
I really wanted to love Welcome To Night Vale, partly because it’s my favorite podcast and partly because I spent my last $20 on the damn thing. And for those same reasons I really wanted to finish it. Except I couldn’t.
The book started off enjoyably enough, with the usual Night Vale weirdness. On the first page you’re immediately thrown into an existential crisis about the fabricated concepts of “existence” and “ownership.” So, yeah. If you liked the podcast, the first pages had you enthralled.
After a while, though, the book lost its footing. The dual plots just weren’t doing it for me. On one side of the coin there was Jackie, a pawn shop owner whose predictable daily routine was interrupted by a strange man with a briefcase. Her quest was basically just to return to her humdrum life. On the other side of the coin there was single mother Diane, who struggled to connect with her son Josh. He was the usual angst-ridden adolescent, but with a habit of changing physical forms via shapeshifting. Teenagers, am I right?
There was nothing particularly compelling about the plot. I pressed onward for the random (sometimes misplaced?) sprinklings of weirdness throughout the book. Night Vale itself is a gold mine: a small desert town filled to the brim with hooded figures, conspiracies, and strange sightings. So why was the plot so bland?
There was also a noticeable and disappointing lack of Cecil Palmer, the beloved narrator of the Welcome To Night Vale podcasts. His brief appearances only reminded me how much better Night Vale was in, well, its original format. As a podcast.
Don’t waste your $20 on this book. I stopped reading at 85 pages in with a thumping headache and the promise to pick it back up again sometime. But I never did. And I never cared enough to finish it. Stick to the much funnier, much more mysterious, much more tolerable podcast.