Customer Reviews for

Heart-Shaped Box

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

25 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

Creepy Cool

I heard a lot of people raving about this book and the "rental line" was too long, so I decided to buy it and find out what others liked about it.

Ghosts...check
Creepy...check
Left me feeling a little uneasy in the dark...check
Made me appreciate c...
I heard a lot of people raving about this book and the "rental line" was too long, so I decided to buy it and find out what others liked about it.

Ghosts...check
Creepy...check
Left me feeling a little uneasy in the dark...check
Made me appreciate contemporaries again...check

Great story, real characters and I liked that the main character was not the typical young, hot-blooded male. He's mature and has been through and has seen a lot of crap during his time. I didn't like him at first, but he grew on me and in the end, I loved him.

The book draws you in and keeps you on the edge the entire length of the book with its twists and turns. It's graphic, but endearing at the same time.

This is a keeper.

posted by cmor4les on November 9, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Don't believe the hype

Joe Hill is being touted as America's next major horror writer. If this is the best American writers can do, I'll stick with the British authors I love (e.g., Neil Gaiman, Jonathan L. Howard, Mark Hodder), thank you very much.

"Heart-Shaped Box" revolves around an ag...
Joe Hill is being touted as America's next major horror writer. If this is the best American writers can do, I'll stick with the British authors I love (e.g., Neil Gaiman, Jonathan L. Howard, Mark Hodder), thank you very much.

"Heart-Shaped Box" revolves around an aging heavy metal rocker (Judas Coyne--not too cliche, huh?) with a penchant for collecting weird or macabre items. One day his personal assistant finds an Internet auction for a ghost--yup, a ghost. Naturally Coyne is intrigued by the auction and snaps up the ghost. A week or so later, the titular heart-shaped box shows up at his door. It contains a suit--the very suit the "ghost" had wanted to be buried in but wasn't, due to his stepdaughter's switch to a cheaper "burial suit."

Coyne starts seeing a ghost wearing the suit. Turns out the guy had two stepdaughters, and one was a girl Coyne had lived with.

To cut to the chase, the ghost blames Coyne for his younger stepdaughter's suicide. Getting Coyne to buy his ghost by setting up an online auction was his surviving stepdaughter's idea, so that the ghost would in essence "belong" to Coyne and would thereby have access to him. What follows this revelation involves an ill-conceived road trip, unnecessary deaths, more "startling" revelations about family grudges, and a conclusion that is barely satisfying.

Hill's "hipper than thou" language is annoying in the extreme. All Southerners sound like uneducated, foul-mouthed hicks. (The South, by the way, seems to be the root of all evil in Hill's universe. There isn't a sin or unsavory behavior that isn't practiced almost exclusively by Southerners. Way too simplistic a view for my tastes.) The characters are two-dimensional cliches: jaded rock star; dirt-poor Southern girl who sleeps her way to a comfortable life; semiliterate, fanatically "religious," crazy rednecks...you get the idea. The only characters who arouse sympathy in the reader are the dogs--and boy, do they suffer for their nobility.

I had my suspicions that I wouldn't like this book due to a relationship the author has with an older, more famous American horror writer. But I set my reservations aside because I read so many reviews stating that this book was terrifying, one of the most frightening books the reviewer had ever read, and so forth. Apparently here in the USA the only thing you need to achieve success and lavish (unwarranted) praise is a famous relative.

As I stated in the beginning of this review, I'll stick with my British authors, for whom "originality" isn't an alien concept.

posted by woodwordwose on November 2, 2012

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Started VERY strong...and then dwindled

    This novel started off wonderfully, with a very creepy, original ghost story with genuinely scary sequences, but then lost it's steam rapidly due to a plotline surrounding the ghost's motivation and backstory

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    Cool concept, but starts to loose my attention towards the end.

    Cool concept, but starts to loose my attention towards the end.
    This book pulls you right in from the first chapter, and I must admit that it did get me a little scared (i'm sure reading it at 2am wasn't much help either haha.) It's written at about a 10th or 11th grade reading level but definitly has adult content which keeps it out of the teen horror category. Towards the end it becomes less scary and you can find your mind wandering elsewhere. But, overall I'd say it was a great read and I did enjoy it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good first book!

    Joe Hill (Stephen King's son) could be better than his dad. I enjoyed this book. It was a bit "uneven", but good. Some bits were damn original, others were a little worn. Overall I'd recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    book was okay

    Book was okay. Parts of it were really good - but some parts were very predictable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Creepy

    Enjoyed reading the book. Am a big fan of Stephen King and was hoping Joe Hill's books would read as great. Creepy but not as good as his fathers. I will probably try more of Hill's books as he does get good ratings from other readers. I will just try not to do comparing.

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  • Posted December 17, 2013

    Not for everyone.

    I am in the middle of reading this. To me, it is not as good as I thought it would be.

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  • Posted October 3, 2013

    I liked the beginning, but boy I'm in the middle and can't stand

    I liked the beginning, but boy I'm in the middle and can't stand this book! I usally don't put down a book but this is enough for me. Very boring,feels like the same things happening over and over!

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  • Posted July 8, 2013

    From this point forward, I shall refrain from the HEART-SHAPED B

    From this point forward, I shall refrain from the HEART-SHAPED BOX, heart-shaped candies, and anything else in the shape of a heart that is sent through the mail or easily consumable. As my wife can attest, this will put a significant strain on the candy industry, to the point that they may be forced to shut down operations, if only temporarily. But how could I not when this novel totally freaked me out. I have three suits, and I’m not sure I want to wear any of them ever again. Even the gray pinstriped one that makes me look like a player—or maybe not—shall hang in the closet for the rest of his days. Sure, I’ve probably gone a bit off the New Mexican reservation, but I do believe in hyperbole about as much as I believe in ghosts, and there comes a point when I need to stand up for myself, or better yet, I’ll just run in the opposite direction. That’ll be faster, and it might even save me some time.

    Seriously, though, there is evil among us, and I’m not referring to Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers. There’s voodoo and witchcraft and haunted spirits, not the kind I would imbibe, and a slow build terror that nearly consumes every page. The characters proved nearly as lifelike and realistic as they did horrific, and this novel showcases why revenge goes down about as easily as antifreeze. And it’s hard to execute a group hug if you have a knife sticking out of your thigh along with about three more sticking out of your back while you’re caught staring in open-mouthed horror as a Chevy Suburban T-bones you at 40 MPH. If you happen to live through it, though, you’ll peel out faster than a cheetah chasing a gazelle, with your metal screeching and grinding all the way home.

    Judas Coyne may listen to more Trent Reznor than is humanly possible and defile more Goth groupies than an entire heavy metal band, but he does have a heart, even if it’s a bit black and slightly tainted from misuse, and Marybeth, aka Georgia, may shrink to the size of a scarecrow, but that doesn’t mean she’s lost all her fight and vinegar. *BEGIN SPOILER* And I was pleased with the happy ending, or as happy of an ending as a novel like this can ever hope to achieve. *END SPOILER*

    If you like your revenge served cold, and your evil served piping hot, your characters creepy with more than enough realism to seal the deal, and you prefer a slow burn before all the hoopla and singing and fireworks, then this is one tale that’ll probably keep you flipping the pages.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    highly recommend

    About 100 pages in and I cannot put it down! I would read anything written by this author very well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Creepy..storyline weird

    When i read the reviews i was soo excited to read this book. Its an okay book not great like people make it seem. Its creepy, but the storyline is a little weird and at times doesnt make sense. But okay book overall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Not scarey

    Was not at all scarey and was a little slow and plodding. I was hoping for much more suspence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Three stars for converting me to the characters I despised at th

    Three stars for converting me to the characters I despised at the beginning. They started out shallow and unlikeable and I ended up rooting for them. That was a surprise.

    Only three stars because the ghost was too cheeky to be scary. I basically couldn't get Mr. Burns from The Simpsons out of my head. This book did not thrill or scare me.

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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Good and scary!

    Like a big bag of greasy potato chips...you gobble it up and then have nightmares.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    First time to read Joe Hill novel

    I've read some short stories from him and I'm looking forward to this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Good enough to buy ?

    I need an honest opinion if i should buy this or not . Cause i really didnt understand the overview on this book .. so i have no idea what its about ! Please give me advice /.\ reply to Marie Alice

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Joe is his son, after all.  And like father, like son: Hill writ

    Joe is his son, after all.  And like father, like son: Hill writes horror in an amazingly similar way.  His feel for the macabre is second only to his dad, his details and description are in HD, and his characters have full histories and rich lives.  ...And for me, that’s kind of the problem.

    I admit, I’m not an extremely patient reader.  Like King, Hill sometimes seems to take ten full pages to tell us what happens in ten minutes.  I think about the first hundred pages of this book takes place over only one or two days (at the book’s pace it’s hard to tell).  I can’t handle that.  There were a couple of King’s books that, as shameful as it is, I skipped great pinches of pages through to get on with the story.  King and Hill are fantastic at developing characters and settings, but the pace of the story is usually sacrificed in the process.

    Heart-Shaped Box is a clever, original, thoroughly-written horror novel in the traditions of master, Stephen King.  If you’re a King fan, you’ll enjoy Hill for sure.  But if, like me, you prefer a jogging pace to a slow meander around the yard, you might have trouble with it.  I’ll likely leave my book mark in place and maybe come back to it when I have a little more patience built up.  

    J. D. Brink 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    The story idea was great, but then the book became predictable.

    I thought the story line was interesting. The characters were good. The pace of the book was great. Sadly, about two-thirds through it, it became apparent as to what was going to happen next.

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  • Posted November 29, 2012

    Good read

    Good ghost story! Characters and settings were well developed and you felt like you were right there with them. Made me jumpy at home for a few days, as all good horror stories should. I enjoyed reading it and I will read more books from Mr. Hill.

    Rated three stars because although a good read, I felt like some of the elements/themes were a little hackneyed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    Creepy Goodness

    Well written and fast moving, Heart Shaped Box is more than it's cover suggests. The twisted events are surprising and riveting. A real page turner to the end.

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    Decent read, but not overly captivating

    This book had a good story line, but tended to drag in spots. It was spooky, but didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. I bought it mainly because Stephen King wrote a review on it. The end got confusing and I had to reread parts to see what the writer was trying to convey. I'd still say get it and read it. Maybe I'm just used to scarier stories.

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