Cover Image: Full Throttle

Full Throttle

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Member Reviews

I have stopped and started this book so many times. Some of the stories remind me of his fathers. Maximum Overdrive, Children of the Corn, etc...that I would put the book down.
Then other stories would grab me and never let me go. LIke the airplane one, Mums, Late Returners. All original and all good.
Overall this book is a good anthology but I wonder how closely he imitated his father. I can't read to more of his original full length works.
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I've always wondered, what it was like to have dinner at King's house?  With all these great writers around, can you imagine the conversations or the ideas that are flying around?  Was so happy that Joe Hill provided answers in his introduction. Simply fascinating. This book is worth reading just for this introduction alone, even if one doesn't like short stories.
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I'm a big Joe Hill fan, with NOS4A2 and his graphic novel series, Locke & Key, being favorites.   Thoroughly enjoyed this read.
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I'm finding that finishing a book by Joe Hill makes me immediately go look for another one he's written. Full Throttle once again has me seeking out more. While his novels are epic stories creating entire worlds, his short stories get straight to their point in a most endearing way. And those points leave me pondering what I just read. Good read the stories are well written. I especially liked the werewolves, It would make a great film . Well worth buying !
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In all honesty, I couldn't finish this one; which is very rare for me. I usually drag myself to the end of 95% of the books I start, but this one I just couldn't get to the finish line. The stories didn't intrigue me. I guess I was expecting something more exciting, thought-provoking and engaging than what was delivered.
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Full Throttle is full of magic and looming influences, most of which Hill acknowledges at the beginning of the collection. There are a couple collaborations with Stephen King, one which has already been made into a movie (although the other one should be, soon enough), and one of which has been adapted for Shudder's "Creepshow." The homage to Bradbury, "Dark Carousel," is one of...thirteen...standouts. What a delightful collection, reminiscent in power of early King collections, but reminiscent in heart of both Hill's earlier short stories and King's later work. Stellar.
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I’m late to the party, so by now this book has a pile of accolades; every one of them is earned. I received a review copy courtesy of Net Galley and HarperCollins. I am fond of short stories, all the more so when the stories are as riveting and suspenseful as these. How else could the reader get any sleep at all, if there wasn’t a natural stopping point at the end of each story? If you like this author’s work, or if you like horror stories—not all of them, strictly speaking, fit into the genre, but we can consider the collection horror, nevertheless—or if you just like a good short story collection, reach for this one. 

Hill begins with the title story, “Full Throttle,” a gritty tale of parenting gone wrong. I couldn’t put it down, and friends, I can always put a book down. I read too much to obsess over my fiction, but this story owned me till it was over. The next story, “Darkened Carousel,” a story of slightly thuggish teens encountering carousel horses with unusual powers was every bit as strong. Another favorite is the one about wolves on a train, and I especially appreciated the line, “You smell like privilege and entitlement…this is first class, after all.” 

In fact, all of these are excellent. I had read “In the Tall Grass,” and to be honest it isn’t my favorite, so I skipped it this time. That’s the only story I don’t wholeheartedly recommend, and the collection gets all five stars from me because I consider the book to be worth every red cent it costs, even without it. 

The only downside of a collection like this—and this only applies for reviewers and others with a finish date in mind—is that it’s easy to set the book aside whenever a story ends. I sidelined this collection after the first two stories in order to conquer a pair of 700 page tomes that were on the brink of publication, and eventually this book became the one that made me feel guilty every time I looked at it. Recently I checked out the audio book from Seattle Bibliocommons, and since I had enjoyed the first two stories so much, I decided to begin again from the start. There’s a string of excellent readers, some of them famous, and those that like listening should consider this version. 

As is generally true of the genre, there are triggers all over the place, and there’s some R rated material. If in doubt, read it yourself before handing it off to the middle schooler you are trying to home school during this pandemic. 

To those that love the genre, this book is highly recommended.
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Joe Hill is a master storyteller. Standout tales include Late Returns, Faun, and In the Tall Grass. You are Released is one of the most haunting stories I’ve read. The fear is in its realistic timeliness. This collection is must read for all horror fans.
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It's hard not to compare Joe Hill to his father, Stephen King.  However, comparisons can be flattering.  This collection of Short Stories felt similar to King's story collections - to me - with the tones and suspense.  I loved the  quick bursts of creativity and uniqueness.  The comparison continues with how Hill digs deep into the minds, and souls, of his characters.  I don't think you would read this collection of stories, or any of them individually, and think, "this is a Stephen King copycat".  It was an excellent collection of tales.

Full disclosure: 
I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley(dot)com in exchange for an honest review.  I would not have selected this book had I not been interested in it based on the description.

Read more of my reviews at https://tugglegrassblues.wordpress.com/.
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Joe Hill is one of those rare authors who seems equally adept at short fiction (see the previous 20th Century Ghosts (HarperCollins, 2007) as he is with full-length novels (my favorites being his debut Heart-Shaped Box (William Morrow, 2007) and The Fireman (William Morrow, 2016). He’s also had award-winning success with the Locke & Key comics series and a number of his works have been adapted for movies or television. It’s all rather irritating for those of us who struggle to master even one of these creative art forms. Despite these personal peeves, I always look forward to new work from Hill, and his latest story collection does not disappoint.

The stories in Full Throttle (William Morrow, 2019) run the gamut from thriller to suspense to supernatural to indescribable, and kept me turning pages to the very end. The collection hits the ground running, so to speak, with the opening story, “Throttle” (co-written with the author’s paterfamilias Stephen King) which sees a gang of aging biker thugs being terrorized by a truck driver carrying a grudge. And from there, we’re off to the races. Not all of the stories have supernatural elements (“Throttle” doesn’t, for instance) but the ones that do are very effective. The standout for me in this sub-genre was “Faun”. I thought I knew early on where this hunter-and-the-hunted story was going; I was delighted and horrified to be so wrong. Other stories have a sweetness to them, like “Late Returns,” about a bookmobile driver who keeps encountering patrons from the past. And “You Are Released,” the final story in the collection, offers a high-altitude look at how the world ends — with both a bang and a whimper.

Bonus content comes at the end, where Hill has written notes describing his inspiration and influence for each of the stories. And don’t skip the About the Author section, where you’ll find a bonus micro-story titled “A Little Sorrow.”

The Stories
    * Throttle — See above.
    * Dark Carousel — Four teens carelessly cross paths with a carousel operator, only to find themselves on the run from the ride’s supernatural spirits.
    * Wolverton Station — A wolf of Wall Street meets his match on a British train.
    * By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain — The childhood wonder of discovering a legend is true, and the childhood frustration of not being believed by adults.
    * Faun — See above.
    * Late Returns — See above.
    * All I Care About Is You — Money can’t buy you love? Don’t tell that to this teenager of the future.
    * Thumbprint — The sins of the desert visit an ex-soldier in Maine.
    * The Devil on the Staircase — A poetic fable about the true costs of selling your soul.
    * Twittering From the Circus of the Dead — Predictable but enjoyable modern zombie tale.
    * Mums — A boy digs up dirt on his dad. As I read, I wasn’t sure if this was a tale of the supernatural or mental illness, and I’m not sure it matters. It’s compelling either way (though please note, Mr. Hill, it’s Iowa State University with the ag program, not the UI Hawkeyes).
    * In the Tall Grass — This one gave “Faun” a run for its money as Story Raising the Most Hairs on the Back of My Neck. Forget everything you thought you knew about the children of the corn; here, the Kansas prairie strikes back.
    * You Are Released — See above.
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I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley.

I really loved this book! I am a big fan of Joe Hill's work and love to see a short story collection from him in the same vein as the short story his father has put out in the past. My fav story was easily "Late Returns" but overall this was a fun and entertaining series of short stories.
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Joe hill is as creepy as his father and I don’t know how someone can be so creepy. This book scared the hell out of me and also I loved it at the same time. All good funny’s.
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At one point in my life, while I was reading Joe Hill’s first book, Heart Shaped Box, I considered the idea of getting Joe Hill inspired tattooed, making my leg into a collage of all of his works. This idea fell to the wayside at some point, and for some reason I stopped reading so much Joe Hill, even though I kept buying all of his books. I got through Horns and just stopped. So when the opportunity to read Full Throttle came up, I was interested and then I put it off. I don’t know why I procrastinate, and sometimes I get punished for it. This is one of those times. Full Throttle deserved my attention as soon as I was given an ARC of the novel through NetGalley, but for some reason, i did what I have been doing to all of Joe Hill’s work, put it off for as long as possible. For lack of better words, this makes me stupid.

Joe Hill is incredible, and this collection is really him not only flexing his writing muscles but also showing his creativity. His writing flows through all thirteen of these stories, sometimes wearing the influence of his heroes on his sleeve. Once I thought I was going to read the best story in the collection, the next story is even better. Usually with a collection like this there are stories that are hits and misses. Quite honestly there is only one story I didn’t really care for, one story that I would not shove under a friends nose and say, “Read this!” The collection deserves me to go through each story individually, something I normally do not do. 

“Throttle” A story co-written with his father, Stephen King, whom I’ve heard is a pretty decent writer in his own right, Hill admits that it is a close reflection of a story by Richard Matheson, and honestly remember the story I said I didn’t care for? This is the one. I didn’t like it very much at all, and if I were to read this collection again, I would skip this story all together.

“Dark Carousel” A story of some teenagers drinking on the boardwalk of a seaside town, they ride a carousel called the Wild Wheel, which is filled with creepy animals. I was kind of cruising along reading this, and halfway through is when the story really started to sink it’s teeth into me. It made me think about the carousel in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and I loved the creepy vibe and ending.

“Wolverton Station” A story about riding the train across England, stopping in Wolverhampton (home of the EPL team Wolverhampton Wolves), and everyone getting onto the train being wolves dressed in clothes. Hill says he wrote the first draft of this story in five days, and it makes me wonder how fast and powerful creative juices can be.

“By The Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” This is the point where I became fully committed to this collection, like I was going to read the whole thing quicker than I expected. Based on Bradbury’s story “The Foghorn” (which I’ve never read), this is about a dead lake monster washed up on shore. This has been made into an episode of the new Creepshow series on Shudder, and I now need to search it out. I loved the premise and the execution.

“Faun” People who pay to hunt exotic animals are people who leave sour thoughts in my brain, so I did not really like the characters in this story, but as the story unfolded, I became more and more involved in the plot. This one is pretty good as a stand alone story, but kind of gets overshadowed by some of the just awe-inspiring stories around it. 

“Late Return” This story is one of my favorites, about a guy who drives a Bookmobile around town. He has dead people show up to return books and get recommendations for books that will give them some last joy. I love this one.

“All I Care About is You” Set in steampunk/Metropolis type society, a bratty teenager is having a birthday and decides to ditch her friends at the last minute and spend an hour with an automaton/android who will be her friend. I really like this story as well, even though it is such a departure from the stories before this one.

“The Thumbprint” Mel was a prison guard/interrogator at Abu Ghraib, but now she is home and trying to adjust to life with images of torture and death in her head. She starts getting cards with thumbprints on them, and she feels like she is being stalked. This is very dark, very disturbing, and there is a great deal of sadness in the PTSD and just paranoia that is involved in these characters’ lives. It is heartbreaking.

“The Devil on the Staircase” This story is written in a way that is meant to look like a staircase, and as a stand alone piece it is kind of more style over content. However after the heaviness of “Thumbprint” I needed this story to help pull me back out the darkness.   

“Twittering From the Circus of the Dead.” This was a kindle single I bought a long time ago, and so this is the only story I have read previously. A family is traveling across the country and stops at a circus. Things go sideways from there. Written as tweets by the bratty teenage girl, this another like “The Devil on the Staircase” where style beats substance.

“Mums” This is one of the more realistic stories in the collection. A separatist keeps his family in a compound, stockpiles guns, and waits for the government to attack. His son Jack is seeing visions, just like his mom did before his dad let his mom die. The dread in this story is real, I know people like this, so the climax and the ending gave me the anxiety it was hoping to convey.

“In the Tall Grass” Before this collection even came out, it was announced that this was going to be a Netflix movie. I watched the movie, and I fell asleep halfway through. The story seems to be more compact and make more sense. I do want to watch the movie again however, just to see how much they changed. I know they changed a few things. 

“You Are Released” This is honestly the most frightening of all of the stories to me. A nuclear way breaks out while a commercial airline is flying across America. The passengers do not know what is happening. The pilots do not know what is happening. All they know is they cannot land and when they do land, everything will be drastically different. I loved all of the different perspectives going through this story, and it is really an incredible piece of writing. The scariest story of them all.

Full Throttle is a very strong story collection, and even though they have made “In the Tall Grass” and “By The Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” into a film and tv episode, respectively, I would be completely excited about the news of every single one of these stories being adapted. Overall this is an amazing collection, and even though there are some dips and I didn’t like everything equality, I would recommend this to everyone. 

I received this as an ARC through NetGally in exchange for an honest review.
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I am not a big fan of short stories. As soon as I get into them, they are over, and then I am sad. I am also not a fan of flying, so I did the obvious thing and took this book with me on a flight to Virginia. Best choice I have made in a long time. The stories were captivating and did the trick of taking my mind off the distance between my plane and the ground. "Late Returns" was my favorite (no brainer since I am a librarian). I have recommended this book to many of my friends and fellow book club members.
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Kind of like his other collections of stories, I found this one contained stories of two types. Brilliant and mediocre. Thus goes most collection I would surmise. My biggest complaint with this collection was that it unknowingly to me contained a large percentage of his stories which were previously released and which I had already read. So a large chunk was not new to me. I did enjoy the "story origin" snippets at the end. Still a good read.
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The few stories I read were exactly what you'd expect from Joe Hill. I will pick this back up in the future and read more of the stories.
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This book is everything that you want from a Joe Hill collection.  In fact, it's more than that.  The combination of Joe Hill writing with his famous father is always a gift to horror fans, and their work together in this continues to sparkle.  I adore the character driven thrill that shows up in these books, and can't wait for Hill's next release.
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ARC From Netgalley.
Been quite a while since I read a short story collection. Good thing book club got me to read this one... excellent! Not all the stories were outstanding, but none were bad. Quite a few will stick with me for a long time.
Highlights/Brief Summaries:

Throttle - a fast paced story of revenge with a revealing ending. Reminded me of Maximum Overdrive.

Dark Carousel - sometimes carousels are really creepy... one of better stories in the collection.

Wolverton Station - The author said he was inspired to write this by a combination of a London train station and the Warren Zevon song. Was very funny at times, but also brutally gory.

By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain - Lake monster, kids, bitchy mom... soon to be on tv, and well worth it.

Faun - Imagine if you paid someone to be allowed to hunt in a twisted version of Narnia... would you go?

Late Returns - Interesting premise... what if ghosts still like to visit the library? AND maybe... what would happen if they try to check out materials that weren't there when they were alive? One of the good ones in the book.

All I Care About Is You - My favorite story in the collection. A futuristic world, excellent world-building, AND a shocking surprise ending. I'd love to see a full novel set in this world.

Thumbprint - One of the ones I didn't like so much. When is something paranoia and when it it a genuine threat?

The Devil on the Staircase - This one really creeped me out. A stairway to hell... literally.

Twittering from the Circus of the Dead - If someone in the current young generation saw genuine horror happening right in front of their eyes, would they believe it, or claim it to be special effects and makeup?

Mums - When this story started, I didn't like it. As it progressed? Well... LOL... leave it to a young psychopath, remorse, and PTSD to liven up a story.

In the Tall Grass - A rare occasion where I enjoyed the movie more than the story. Still excellent story, but the movie had more time to develop the story better.

You Are Released - The other story I didn't like... too many viewpoint changes. Premise: What if you were in an airplane when "the bombs started to fall"?

Overall amazing and a definite strong recommend.
Going to get me to read one of his full-length novels now.
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It’s Joe Hill.  Always remarkable.  Great collection of short stories,  absolutely loved it. Also check out his last novella collection “Strange Weather”.   You will not be disappointed.
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Usually, when reading a collection of short stories, there are one or more that readers might skip. Full Throttle's stories are each their own perfect creations, where skipping even one story is out of the question. Amazingly, Hill is able to successfully dabble and play with a variety of genres, voices, tones, and subjects, treating readers to worlds they've never experienced before. The versatility on display here is astounding.
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