Book: Welcome to Night Vale

10 Jun

I continue to suck at space capitalism on Mars. Just too dang focused on being nice (I don’t use any of the sabotage actions) and maintain a sustainable debt-free foundation. Even being the robot workforce only helped a little.

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink (Author), Jeffrey Cranor (Author)

I like the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Or, at least, in general I do. The last nine or so episodes have left me a little wanting. However, that’s still over 100 episodes of good atmospheric cosmic horror/humor. Lovecraft without the pessimism might be the best way to explain the general feel I enjoy. My birthday was recent and one of the things I asked for and got was the first Welcome to Night Vale novel. Which came out in… 2015 I think? Around then. Figured I like the podcast and the book is written by the two people who write the podcast. So, if I like the podcast I should like the book, yes? Well, apparently not. Though in hindsight I should have suspected. The problems I have with the podcast episodes I’ve disliked are all when the writers try to do more long-form storytelling instead of brief slices and abstract vignettes.

I’m very sad that I did not enjoy this book. To the point that I didn’t quite make it to the halfway point before I gave up. Even though I try not to force myself through books I don’t like just to finish them, it’s still a rare thing. This story was just, well, a story hasn’t actually happened yet. It’s been half a book of atmospheric scene setting. It’s the podcast, but instead of little slices and bits and pieces to evoke a bigger weirder world it’s the same thing stretched out to follow two specific characters around. With text-excepts from the radio show that the podcast consists of.

It really shows how much of the podcast entertainment is the guy who does the main voice. He puts so much into the radio host character that gives everything an extra bit of life. The same thing on the page just isn’t as good. The same thing, stretched out way too long in text form just bores me. It’s trying to be weird but the first half of the book is describing a bare-bones basic relationship between a single mother and her teenage son. Oh, and the other character that is literally carrying around the plot of the book and just wants to get rid of it so she can get back to her life. That’s it. Half of the book and nothing has actually happened.

So, I’d recommend trying this one out in the library before buying it. I still think I might give the second Night Vale novel a shot. It sounded like it would be less podcast-as-text.


Posted by on June 10, 2018 in Reading 2018, Reviews


4 responses to “Book: Welcome to Night Vale

  1. Soge

    June 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I would recommend you try sticking to the end of the book, as the second half is significantly more interesting than then first. Still, it isn’t any literary masterpiece, so you aren’t missing much.

    I used to really like WTNV, but it steadily started to lose me, until I dropped it about 2 years ago. The whole thing started getting into this weirdly self-aggrandizing vibe, and after a while it felt to me they were simply trying to cash in people’s attachment to the earlier version of the show. Every time a familiar character pops up, it feels like a scene from a 90s sitcom, where, say, the Faceless Old Woman etc. etc. steps into the frame and everyone starts cheering. If the weird otherworldly presence starts feeling familiar, for me that is a sign there is something severely wrong with your show.

    • Griffin

      June 12, 2018 at 12:34 am

      I’d argue it’s less self-aggrandizing and more they are trying to actually write a story. Got to have consistent characters for that after all. Which is the reason I’ve been liking it less and less mind you. With the books and direction the podcast is, plus their other projects, I’m pretty sure at least one of the writers wants to actually write stories with narrative and plot. Whereas what I liked WTNV because it was just atmospheric picaresque cosmic weirdness mixed with humor.

      Still, they haven’t lost me completely and there have been some good ‘old school’ episodes in the last two years. Six of the last nine episodes were straight up three-part stories with almost no radio host show stuff. So if that continues I’ll be walking away myself.

  2. Eric Elliott

    June 11, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I listened to it on Audible, and since Cecil Baldwin was reading it, it “felt” a lot like Night Vale.

    • Griffin

      June 12, 2018 at 12:34 am

      I can imagine! I mean, my experience with the printed book has pretty much shown me that Cecil is like 80% of the Night Vale experience.


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