Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jenn: Stephen King vs Joe Hill

We are almost through our month of March Match-Ups, but we are still going strong! I am so very excited to bring you Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves today as she takes on a battle between father and son. Well, it's not really a battle, but you have to read on to get all the details!


When I was asked by Tif to write a post comparing the works of Stephen King and Joe Hill, I knew I couldn’t say no. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I’m obsessed with a big fan of Stephen King.  What? You didn’t know that about me? Well, here’s a little backstory:

*fades to black*

As a child, I often spent the summer with my grandparents. My grandmother was the librarian of the small town in which they lived. Many an afternoon was spent with her in the library.  A voracious reader, I always grabbed the biggest, heaviest book off the shelf. One afternoon, the summer I was turning thirteen, that book I grabbed was Stephen King’s It. Now, my grandmother never questioned my reading choices, instead nurturing my love of books and reading. This is a good thing, otherwise my discovery of the great King’s work would have happened much later in my life.  So I read It. It terrified me in ways I had not yet experienced, in the best of ways of course. I couldn’t have enough. So, just a few days later I returned to pick up another of King’s books off the shelf. It was Pet Semetary, followed by The Tommyknockers. It went on, endlessly. The moment I saw a new King novel I just had to have it. Every.single.thing. that man has written, I have devoured.

Fast-forward several years. I belonged to one of those book-of-the month clubs. I forgot to send back the card indicating I didn’t want the next month's book, so low-and-behold, it shows up in the mail. That book? Joe Hill’s
The Heartshaped Box.  As I read, I distinctly remember thinking “this reads a lot like Stephen King!” So much that it became my mission to know as much about Joe Hill as I could. This was about the same time Hill announced his parentage. His parents were none other than Stephen and Tabitha King. I KNEW IT. Deep down in my soul, I knew they somehow had to be related. And so, my obsession adoration of Joe Hill began.

Ok, back to the point of this post. I’m supposed to be doing a King vs. Hill thing, but I just can’t do it. Why? Because you should read both. Both men are equally talented, their writing similar yet different enough for it to be original. So instead, I’m taking the liberty of changing things up a bit and instead featuring my favorites from each of these fine authors!

Stephen King

King’s backlist can get a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. That’s where I come in! King’s older novels have a completely different feel to them than his more current ones so I do recommend you sample a bit of each. Following are my favorites:

The Stand: the world has succumbed to a devastating plague. A truly brilliant novel of good versus evil.

Pros: Perfect King book to try out if you don’t want the dark and grisly horror of some of his other work.
Con: Page count. The first version published was nearly 900 pages. A few decades later The Stand was re-released at its original page count at 1200 pages. Of course, I’m going to tell you to read the uncut version. It’s worth it.

The Shining: Duh! This one is a given. Even if you have seen the movie,

Pros: It’s just awesome. Truly. Better than the movie!
Cons: You may develop a fear of big hotels, especially in winter.

IT: This one is SO much more than just a horror novel.

Pros: A truly brilliant examination of small town culture. It just happens to be a horror novel as well.
Cons: Not a fan of clowns? Yeah, you sort of can’t avoid them with this one!

11/22/63: Not actually scary at all. A truly unique spin on the Kennedy assassination.

Pros: It’s like a History Channel/Stephen King mash-up. Quite brilliant.
Cons: Um...none?

Doctor Sleep: A “sequel” to The Shining. Readers revisit Danny as an adult.

Pros: Um, a sequel to The Shining isn’t enough for you?
Cons: If you didn’t read the novel but only watched the movie, it’s not going to have as big an impact for you. So, see above (and read the book)!

Joe Hill

Just like with his talented father, I really think you should read EVERYTHING Joe Hill has written. What? you need more reason than that? are my favorites:

Heart-Shaped Box: The novel that introduced me to the awesomeness that is Joe Hill. Basically, a rock star is haunted by a ghost he purchased on the interwebz. Enough said?

Pros: Uber scary! Insert all the cliche adjectives for this one lives up to all the acclaim!
Cons: It may evoke a fear of online shopping.

NOS4A2: I get all tingly when I think about the first time I read this one. Although Hill stands out on his own as an author, it is in this novel that all his King-genes come shining through (like that!?).

Pros: Uber creepy in the best of ways. 
Cons: May develop a fear or aversion to all things gingerbread-scented.


Thank you so much Jenn!  This was so much fun!!

Tell us ... What are your favorites by this father and his son?!?  If you had to choose one or the other, which would you choose?


  1. I love love love Needful Things by Stephen King. It's one of my favorite books by him but it doesn't seem to be as popular as his other works, which I don't understand! I haven't read any of his sons books yet, I'm a little intrigued by the gingerbread smell thing!

  2. Oh you must try Joe's work. It's absolutely amazing. Needful Things is one of my favorites, too. Actually, there aren't many of King's novels that I don't love!

  3. You already know that I am a fan of Stephen King. Of the ones you listed, I have not yet read 11/22/63, but I can't wait. The only Hill works I've read are his Locke & Key graphic novel (comic) series. I really like those and really need to read his others ... especially considering that all of them are on my shelf!

  4. I love Stephen King, but I have never read anything by Joe Hill. This post is a good reminder I need to try one of his books. Has anyone read the book (or books?) jointly written by Stephen and Joe?

    1. honeyimreading ... Ummm, which ones might these be?!? I want to check them out!! (I do know that there are references between Doctor Sleep and maybe NOS4A2. Jenn can probably sign some light on what I'm talking about here.)

    2. It's called Throttle and is about a truck driver and a biker gang. It sounds very interesting!

    3. Thanks honeyimreading! I need to keep my eyes out for this one and the others that Jenn mentioned in the comments below!

  5. *sheepish* I have read neither author but I have been wanting to read Stephen King for awhile. I would start with 11/22/63 and NOS4A2. Great post, you have me excited to make time to read them.

  6. honeyimreading:
    King & Hill have done two collaborations, IN THE TALL GRASS (only available in audio) and THROTTLE, an ebook short. I adored IN THE TALL GRASS but haven't had a chance to read THROTTLE yet. Father & son have collaborated on a graphic novel, ROAD RAGE, due out in August.

  7. I loved this post when I read it, but I think I must have been reading where I couldn't comment. I've read all of Joe Hill's works and most of King's. I think I might be the only person in the world whose least favorite Hill novel is NOS4A2.


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