Review – Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale
By: Joseph Fink; Jeffery Cranor
Release Date: Oct 20, 2015
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Series: Welcome to Night Vale
Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2015)

Have you ever listened to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast? Heard of it? Well, this is Welcome to Night Vale the book, written by the podcast’s creators Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor. It doesn’t follow the podcast’s narrator, Cecil Palmer, but two different characters, at least one of whom (I’m pretty sure as I didn’t go back and re-listen to 4+ years of the podcast before writing this) was mentioned offhand in an early episode of the show.

I was a little worried at first that the book would feel different from the podcast. It’s a different medium, of course, and it isn’t told from the familiar viewpoint of Cecil Palmer.

But should I have worried?

No. Not at all. It felt exactly as Night Vale should, and Jackie especially, was a wonderful character.

The book is easy to jump into, even for those who have never delved into the world of Welcome to Night Vale. For those who do follow the podcast, some loose ends are tied up. The Man in the Tan Jacket is in town once more, and, of course, this being Night Vale, odd things are happening. Diane has noticed a co-worker missing, one that no one else in the office seems to remember and no record of who can be found. Jackie was handed a slip of paper which she, quite literally, cannot put down by a mysterious man wearing a tan jacket, a man she can’t really remember. Events intertwine the two lives together as they search for answers.

Familiar faces make appearances, as you could expect. However, instead of being crammed in nonsensically as I’ve seen other novels, tie-ins, and adaptations do, these were all tastefully done and made sense in context. Cecil’s radio show punctuates the story every few chapters, delivering pertinent information from around town, or as the characters drive around town. Carlos the Scientist is consulted on the issues at hand when Diane and Jackie feel like they’re running out of options.

Night Vale is an odd, dystopian town where mysterious, potentially deadly things happen on a regular basis and time doesn’t work properly. Conventional rules of science don’t always apply. The odd and frightening are normally treated so mundane as to be terrifying in and of itself. The lore and rules of this town are all explained in the book, making it very accessible to those who are not familiar with the Night Vale universe.

If you aren’t sure about reading the book, or if you’re a long time listener who isn’t sure if you want to read as opposed to listen, the first chapter of the audiobook is available as a podcast on Welcome to Night Vale’s YouTube channel as well as most other places you can listen to their podcasts. Head on over and take a listen. If you would rather listen to Cecil Balwin’s always wonderful narration, just like the podcasts, keep in mind that he narrates the audiobook.

I highly recommend reading Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor. It is a very good book set in a very unique universe, and one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

Read If:
you like novels with dystopian overtones, you enjoy weird fiction, you want to see what Welcome to Night Vale is all about without dedicating to 5 years of a podcast

Don't Read If:
you don’t like alternating points of view, you don’t like weird fiction

About author

Kathleen Townsend

Kate writes things, reads things, and writes about things she reads. She’s had a few short stories published, and works as a freelance editor. Favorite genres include epic & high fantasy, science fiction, time travel stories, video game related tales, light novels, and manga.

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