After the major success of recent shows like Game of Thrones and American Gods, it’s no surprise that other books are now being adapted into television shows. It’s incredible to see the characters, setting, and overall feeling of the novel play out in a live-action format. But adapting books into shows does come with its fair share of struggles, especially if the show deviates from the source material. However, it appears as if NOS4A2 sticks to its source material and manages to find a unique way to implement new material at the same time.
NOS4A2, which is based on a novel of the same name by Joe Hill, is AMC’s newest supernatural-thriller. It follows Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) as she confronts Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), a mysterious man who kidnaps children and takes them to a far away land known as “Christmasland”. The first episode, “The Shorter Way,” shows Vic discovering that she can travel through time to find lost things after crossing an old bridge that was supposed to be destroyed a long time ago.
Charlie, shown as an old man, breaks into a random house, killing a mother and kidnaps her son, Daniel (Asher Miles Fallica). Maggie (Jahkara Smith), a young woman who was friends with the boy who was kidnapped, has special powers that allow her to use Scrabble tiles to find lost things. She tries to use the pieces to find where the boy is.
“The Shorter Way” follows its source material pretty close. Without going into spoilers, it does change some things that weren’t in the book, but manages to find unique ways to implement them that still fits in the overall feeling of the show. But just to give some context, the suspense in the scene where Charlie kidnapping the boy is quite palpable. I’m normally not the biggest Zachary Quinto fan, but this has to be the best character I have seen him play. He captures what makes Charlie a menacing yet mysterious villain.
I could have gone without the regular teen angst and the unnecessary people that our hero Vic will meet. There’s a party scene that I can only assume was added to fit a certain demographic. I don’t understand why that scene was added. All it did was just set up some plot points that most likely won’t reappear. It does however add to the conflict that Vic has with her parents, which will hopefully play a huge role later on.
I was skeptical to how they would handle Vic going back in time and realizing what it all meant. In the novel, she makes the discovery when she’s much younger, which seemed like the perfect way to introduce this. I assumed that having a child deal with what she’s found and having to come to terms with it when she’s much older much better than making the initial discovery when she’s older. It takes away the sense of magic that the novel implements towards the beginning of the story. I’m intrigued as to how the handle her making more trips and the entire mythos of the bridge.
After “The Shorter Way,” I’m extremely excited to see how the rest of the season plays out. I read the book a few years ago around the holidays, which was definitely a fantastic idea. I normally wouldn’t be interested in yet another book being adapted into a television series, but Joe Hill’s novel is one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read. I am hopeful that AMC will do the original work justice and deliver a fantastic first season.
NOS4A2‘s airs on Sundays at 10 pm EST / 7pm PST only on AMC.
Final Rating: 8/10 Car Rides to Christmasland