Joe Hill – A Heart-Shaped Box (Reading Challenge 2016 – A horror)

               przechwytywanie I don’t exactly remember how I got to read this one, so I’ll get straight to the point.

                Jude is an ageing rock start, who loves beautiful women and his collection. His morbid collection that includes a skull, a 300-years-old witch’s confession and a video showing a real murder. So, when he sees an auction for a ghost on Internet, he has to buy it. The ghost appears to be real – and he has his plans.

                So, this had potential. There was everything in the story that would suggest it being a great horror. A ghost that wouldn’t leave no matter where the protagonist may go. An isolation of a kind, where only two characters fight with the evil and can’t turn to anyone for help. A trip through half of America. Summing up ghosts to talk to them. Plus some more.

                Somehow, though, I don’t think it was a great horror. On the contrary.

Let’s start with the characters. We have Jude, middle-aged, lonely and bitter. Such a chance for a really, truly believable, human protagonist. Instead of a character full of repressed emotions, we get a paper-thin attempt, with stiff dialogues and predictable behaviors. His girlfriend, Georgia, is a little bit better written in my opinion, but still not fully-fleshed. Made me a little hard to root for them. Still, I did, because of potential I saw in them. And maybe my imagination and cursed empathy.

Anyhow, the horror book should be scary, right? Nope. Not in this case. I felt like all the events connected with the ghost were more or less the same. The ghost hypnotizes them to do something terrible, like try to kill themselves or one another, then the hypnosis state is broken one way or another, and they walk away. Or they see the ghost in the house sitting casually on a chair, and they go passed him, as if that would solve anything.

I thought that it would become more scary, or at least more interesting when they went away from Jude’s house, but no such luck.

Also, who the fuck buys a ghost on the Internet? If you believe in ghosts, you should know that’s never a good idea. If you don’t, you’re wasting your money. Either way, you’re an idiot.

The book had some moments, though. Not when it got terrifying or thrilling, or anything like that, but moments when it became interesting in a way. I think it would work better as a short story. That way it would go faster, and we could get rid of the boring fragments. Also, the short story doesn’t require complex characters, not as much as I expect in a book.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend it for two main reasons: it’s boring instead of scary, and the characters are flat.

PS I knew all along the author is Stephen King’s son, but I deliberately didn’t mention it in a review. I expected the same things from the novel as I would expect from any other positon, so it really made no difference in my opinion of the book.


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