I am a long standing fan of the podcast of Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve been to a live show, I’ve cosplayed as Cecil for Halloween, my car’s license plate reads WTNVCR for Welcome to Night Vale Community Radio. I have a Night Vale NRA bumper sticker. When I heard that they were planning a book, I was thrilled. A whole book of Night Vale! That’s so much more than just an average podcast! I fully expected to give this a 5-star review without even needing to read it.
I really wish that was true.
Don’t get me wrong: this book is all the wonderful weird magic of Night Vale in book form. I could hear every word in Cecil’s voice. We met new characters, saw more of old favorites, didn’t believe in angels or mountains. It was a whole book of desert town glory.
And in many ways, that was the trouble.
The core issue, and the reason I can’t give this a 5-star review, was a pacing issue. While the story was all one cohesive story, and all one big plot line, it felt like a book of short stories. Each chapter felt like a podcast episode–and that works less when you’re reading the book all at once. It makes the book feel longer than it is, so by the end it feels like you’ve been on some epic journey–and not in the good way you feel at the end of a good book.
Don’t get me wrong: this was a fantastic book. It truly does sound just like the podcasts. It’s a wonderful addition to the canon of the world, and gives interesting information about characters we’ve been hearing about since the early days. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I’m glad it exists and that I read it. I just wish it had flowed a bit better.
All in all, this is 100% a must-have book for Night Vale fans. My recommendation is that if you can, read it in chunks. Possibly a chapter or two at a time, and treat it like a slightly faster version of the podcast itself. I think that would fix the vast majority of what bothered me about the book.
Rating: **** (Recommended)