Alice Isn’t Dead

Alice Isn’t Dead – Joseph Fink

Alice is dead.  Or is she?

From the creator of the wildly popular podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, comes a story about a young woman roaming the highways of America as a truck driver looking for her wife whom she believes to still be alive.  Along the way she will encounter deformed. zombie-like men and women, members of a secret government agency and a group of timeless mythical beings.

I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Like Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead started as a podcast a few years ago under the banner “Night Vale Presents..”.  Now, creator Joseph Fink brings you the complete story from start to finish in the form of a novel.

I found the first half of this duller than a bag of hammers.  Sure, there’s lots of world building to establish here but the pacing was slower than molasses in January (and this is coming from someone who loves good world-building).  When it came time to turn up the horror elements to eleven, I didn’t find that any of it grabbed me or put a chill deep into my bones.  I think this has to do with the fact that I appreciate more atmospheric terror when it comes to my scares rather than straight up gross-out body horror.

It’s not all bad though – the novel’s main protagonist, Keisha, was someone I identified a lot with given her struggles with anxiety.  I felt a deep connection with her and her initial inability to stray from the beaten path.  Even though the whole purpose of taking that job with a trucking company was to find her missing wife, she nearly balks at the opportunity to follow-up on a lead because she is afraid she will jeopardize her job.  As the novel progresses, she becomes stronger and more determined.  Fink succeeds in presenting a character with natural progression rather than going with the tried and true, “I’m a badass now” trope.

The history of Keisha and Alice’s relationship is revealed slowly over the course of the story and given my connection with Keisha, I found this to be the most enjoyable part of the novel, despite it lacking all the scary bits the book is primarily sold on.  Fink shows true talent when getting down the intricacies of a long-term relationship.  I won’t go so far as to say he’s better at this than the Lovecraftian story-telling style he’s known for (his Night Vale podcast is tremendous), but it’s definitely something I hope is not lost in the shuffle when everyone is just focusing on the horror elements of the book.

In the end, just like Fink’s prior novel “Welcome to Night Vale”, I’m just not digging his written work.  I think he is an incredible audio-storyteller and given that “Alice Isn’t Dead” is also a podcast, I’m thinking about going back and listening to that show from the beginning.  I’m guessing that might be the preferred narrative seeing that is how it all started.

Expected publish date: October 30, 2018

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