Book Review: “Welcome to Nightvale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Warning: If you have not read the book “Welcome to Nightvale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, you may want to avoid reading this due to some major spoilers in this review. However, if you’ve already read the book or you don’t mind spoilers, go right on ahead and read it!

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel: Fink, Joseph, Cranor, Jeffrey ...
Cover of “Welcome To Nightvale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.

I’m back with yet another book review! This time I’m looking at “Welcome to Nightvale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, who also co-wrote the podcast series of the same name. I’ve heard of Welcome to Nightvale and I’ve actually listened to their podcasts, so I wanted to see how the book itself held up against the original podcast. Here’s a summary of the book so we all know what is going on:

“Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “King City” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “King City”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.”

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

Plot Development: 5 out of 5 stars

Worldbuilding Development: 5 out of 5 stars

I like how the main characters, Diane and Jackie, both had their contrasting differences. Diane is trying to get over her past and stay away from it, while Jackie needs to dig into the mystery as far as she can, determined to get all the answers. Both end up blocking each other from achieving their goals, and it is only once they truly start working together after Josh goes missing that they both end up having to confront their pasts.

I also enjoyed how the book really touched upon how much the past can really affect a character and explain what makes them tick, and what motivates their actions. Diane is trying to raise her son the best she can on her own, after the father of Josh left her in the past. She and Josh obviously have conflicts at times, but she tries her best to understand her son and try to talk through things with him, rather than just become controlling and restrictive towards him. Diane’s worry for Josh’s safety after he went missing is believable to read, and it only showed how much she really cared for him.

Jackie had her own problems, more specifically with everyone treating her like a teenager that couldn’t do anything. Considering that she was stuck looking like a nineteen-year-old, it wasn’t easy for her to get past people doubting her abilities (Diane included) because of the fact that she looked young. People assumed that she was too brash, or reckless, with her actions throughout the novel. And yet Jackie was the person who ultimately helped Diane find her son after he went missing, out of everyone in Nightvale that could have helped Diane. Despite everyone underestimating her abilities, Jackie did not give up on achieving her goals; finding out more about the Man In the Tan Jacket and later helping Diane find Josh.

I think both Jackie and Diane were very well written, and arguably two very strong female protagonists who both struggled and worked together, helping each other by the end to reach their goals. They both had believable chemistry when they had scenes together, and I could understand how they felt about the situations they faced throughout the book. Their chemistry is definitely not romantic, but rather in a familial type of relationship, especially later in the book. However, the way Jackie and Diana interact with each other in the book is very, very believable and definitely reminiscent of a complicated family relationship. I’ll stop there regarding discussing this point, mainly because I don’t want to give away too much about these two in the book.

Intertwined between chapters are parts of Cecil’s radio show. Even Cecil’s boyfriend Carlos gets to make a quick cameo in one of these sections. I thought it was nice link back to the actual Welcome To Nightvale podcast, and it also helped to somewhat prepare for what Jackie and Diane are doing, as some of the events that Cecil and others on the radio show discuss are things that actually happen to the main characters. Given that it seems that Cecil can see everything going on in Nightvale, this shouldn’t come as too huge a surprise for those that have at least listened to a few podcast episodes.

Overall, I have to give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars!

It would definitely be best if you listen to a couple of the actual podcast episodes so that everything in the book makes some relative sense. If you’ve already listened to a good number of Welcome To Nightvale episodes, though, do go pick up the book, sit back, and read at your leisure, because this book will definitely not disappoint.

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