Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box” had a great second half, so I am glad I persevered. I found part one rather awkward as if the writing devices were foregrounded rather than the story. I could see exactly what Hill was trying to do, but emotionally it left me flat. The heart shaped box motif was shoehorned into place in ways that felt unnatural and silly. Part two was much better and smoother. The race against time and the fight for the lives of the protagonist and his girlfriend (she never seems to be much more than that) all fall naturally into place.
Judas Coyne is an aging rock star who dates women thirty years younger than him and treats them with callous disregard, yet compared to the villain he appears almost angelic. We have a character arc and personal growth, and by the end Judas is calling his girlfriend and his ex-girlfriend by their names rather than the States in which they were born. Yes, really. Judas has “visited” a lot of US States.
I preferred The Fireman, Nosferatu and Horns, but this isn’t a terrible book. I’d give it a solid 3/5 stars.