Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Boxis an unusual and exciting modern-day ghost story. Judas Coyne is the aging lead singer of a famous metal band, who is currently living with his goth girlfriend Mary-Beth, or as he calls her, Georgia. Jude has a love for collecting dark, disturbing, and strange artifacts, and consequently he jumps at the chance to purchase a ghost being sold on the Internet. Thinking it nothing more than a hoax, Jude is midly cautious upon the arrival of the dead man’s suit. However, we find that the suit is in fact haunted, and the ghost was purposefully sent to Jude in order to kill him. Now he and Georgia must try to escape, before they are killed, or they kill each other.
I thought this book was remarkable for several reasons. While it is a ghost-story, I never found it particularly scary, just thrilling and unique, which I actually think makes it better. I was surprised how well Hill developed his two main characters, Georgia and Jude. They both could have easily been boring stereotypes, with not much background or motivation. The reader, however, quickly finds that the ghost is not the only thing haunting these two characters, their pasts are as well. Much of the novel is spent exploring Judas’ life, memories, regrets, and fears. These recollections were my favorite parts of the novel. The dynamic between Judas and Georgia also develops, and what you originally assumed about their relationship, because of the type of people they seem to be, is proven wrong again and again. My only complaint comes from the beginning of the novel when the ghost first arrives. I felt that the inital part, hiding from the ghost in the house, dragged on too long. After that, however, the pace is fast and thrilling. Some readers may not appreciate all the gore, cursing, and the small amount of sexuality, so be warned if these things put you off from novels. Overall though, this book is very different than anything I’ve read, and I recommend it!