Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24, 2017
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 4.01
cw: see below
A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.
“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.
A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”
On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.
In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.
As y’all may or may not remember, I went to Joe Hill’s release of Strange Weather a little while back and I finally finished this masterpiece recently. As the above blurb indicates, this is a compilation of four short novels written by Joe Hill. Each novel has an eerie twist to it — most are supernatural in some way and one isn’t.
This collection was an easy five stars for me. Each story blew me away in one way or another. Joe’s writing never fails to be any less than spectacular, he really is an incredible storyteller. Below I’ll go through and detail my thoughts on each story (and also share some of the relevant content warnings). They were all five-star reads for me, so ratings aren’t necessary this time around!
“Snapshot” is the first piece in the book and it reeled me right in. I had a visceral reaction to this one, it had me on the edge of my seat and I could actually feel the fear coursing through me. It was the combination of the tone of the writing and the content itself. The only cw I can think of currently is for memory loss, as it’s pretty heartbreaking in the context of this story. I may or may not have cried at the end of this one.
There was no obvious reason for caution — but a lot of our best thinking takes place well below the level of conscious cognition and has nothing to do with rationality.
“Loaded” was the second piece and it was an intense one, a take on modern gun violence and police brutality. This was also a very painful read, there are a few scenes that I wasn’t expecting and I damn near lost my mind reading them. I actually had to put down the book and message Destiny at one point because I knew she would wail over one scene in particular with me. cw racism, domestic abuse, suicide, alcoholism
“Aloft” was the third piece. I had heard an excerpt from this at Joe’s reading, so I knew a bit about the piece and where it was going. Where it went after that excerpt was kind of wild, though. It went in a direction I wasn’t really expecting, but I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot! This was probably the weakest story in the collection imo, but still very good.
It is odd how much we want to be in love when you think about how much anxiety comes with it, like a tax on money you win in the lottery.
“Rain” was yet another heart-wrenching story. But!!! The main character is a queer woman, so that’s rad. The concept here was really cool too, especially because there was a somewhat scientific aspect behind it (although I can’t speak to how accurate that actually was). cws for homophobia and animal death, there’s actually a somewhat graphic illustration on the title page (right after “Aloft”) that might startle or upset some people, so please keep that in mind!!
Overall, this was such a stunning collection and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of Joe Hill’s work, as there’s still some stuff I haven’t read yet!