[Hill] is already so good at endings of the unhappy variety. Shocking, terrible, whoa, cover-your-mouth-and-gasp endings. Endings that are perfect and yet a page early, arriving before you’re ready. Endings that tear off the story’s edge, leaving it ragged and bloody, leaving you wanting more. So yes, Hill has a way with endings ... Also beginnings. Often middles, too, his stories pushing you along with the intangible dread of a fable, pulling you forward with the inexorable logic of a mathematical proof. Lots of dead bodies, very few dead parts — among Hill’s many talents is his ability to braid together his strands ... never a formula. More like a worldview. Hill’s universe is for the most part very bleak, but it has a moral coherence to it, a sense in which things make a kind of sense, however perverse ... in his very best stories, Hill gets to moments of lyricism, of pain or connection or both ... While all of Hill’s experiments with form are inventive, some work better than others ... At times, Hill tends to explain his own premise (all the more a shame because he’s usually set it up so deftly), offering up one more spoonful of explication than necessary ... And once in a while, the moral math of Hill’s cosmos can get a little one-to-one, the syllogism plodding forward, the reader’s mind jumping ahead to see the next equation in the proof. This is nit-picking, though, and it’s made easier because the few imperfections stand out against Hill’s otherwise seamless and finely crafted work.
There aren’t many writers out there who are as thoughtfully scary as Joe Hill ... The truth is that it would be easy to expound at length upon just about every one of these stories. Hill’s narrative gifts are tremendous, and he unleashes them here to full effect. His ability to construct such sturdily delicate plots, both solid and subtle, is a joy to experience. He creates worlds in which we can’t help but immerse ourselves. It’s impressive enough that he can do that world-realization in his novels; to do that within the relatively limited parameters of short fiction is doubly so. The journey is taut and fraught and emotionally charged; the destination is visceral and surprising and both exquisitely chosen and utterly unexpected. He earns every shocked disbelieving headshake he gets - and there are a few ... What you might not expect from a book of scary tales is how funny they are. Hill’s wicked sense of humor isn’t omnipresent, but when it pokes its s—t-stirring little head up, it makes a big impression. He’s clever, but not overly so; there’s none of the performative neediness you sometimes get when a writer tries to show off. There’s nothing needy or show-offy about Hill’s work; it’s more than strong enough to exist on its own terms ... an outstanding collection of work from the pen of an outstanding writer. Joe Hill began his career trying to step out of his father’s shadow, but that time has long passed. He’s not standing in the long shade anymore, if he ever was. Instead, he’s casting a shadow of his own, one that grows longer with every exceptional offering.
Hill returns to short stories where his terrifying genius most brightly shines ... Every piece is driven by anxiety and unease and features Hill’s trademark characters, who feel absolutely real. But it is also the sense of place that dazzles ... Hill lulls the reader into deep enjoyment, even as terror lies just around the corner. He rounds out this superb collection with insightful notes and a surprise fourteenth story hidden in About the Author ... This is a collection of single-serve, immersive horror for fans of collections by Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Samanta Schewbin, and Elllen Datlow’s anthologies.
For those looking for entertainment and willing to withhold deep thought, Hill’s stories will more than suffice. Bestsellerdom is, no doubt, assured. Small and/or large-screen development for some of the content is sure to follow ... Hill’s typical blend of nostalgia and cynicism combine in 'Late Returns' for an empathetic consideration of dealing with grief. Well-developed characters, both living and dead, also serve this lovely paean to librarians very well. The other original, 'Mums', might have been a better story if the author had not emphasized the over-the-top paranormal element that leads the young protagonist to commit multiple murders. The possibility that it is only his mind at work is part of the story, but a subtler supernatural emphasis would have made it stronger. Similarly, 'In the Tall Grass'—co-written with King—does a good job of building suspense and evoking fear until it enters an overlong woo-woo explanation that 'goes for the gross.' 'All I Care About You', an attempt at SF, fails due to a remarkable lack of logical worldbuilding ... Full Throttle also contains a heartfelt introduction lauding his father and interesting author notes.
While many introductions shed little light on the work they precede, Hill’s raucous and too-brief telling of his life story is required reading.
As for [the] stories, all but two of which have been previously published as far back as 2007, they are a mixed bag, as is almost always the case with retrospective collections like this. The two stories that [Hill] wrote with King...are among the weakest ... Similarly, the stories where Hill seems to be tailgating in his father’s lane are the least interesting ... Where this collection goes right, in some cases thrillingly so, are the stories where Hill diverges from the classic horror tropes by slyly subverting them, or when he writes in a different genre altogether ... All in all, Full Throttle is an enjoyable romp through the vivid imagination of an accomplished literary heir to the throne. But while the stories are worth reading, here’s hoping Hill will someday write that memoir.
... compulsively readable. Thirteen stories weave in and out of gritty realism, whimsical folklore, and futuristic sf, flowing from one to the next in a fast-paced journey through the surreal. Hill fills each story with shocking plot twists, excellent worldbuilding, and satisfying kismet ... As in any anthology, some tales are stronger than others, but overall this is a winning entry from Hill. Hand to fans of horror, dark fantasy, and ruthless realities.
Mr. Hill presents us with well-crafted dark morsels of mystery and terror that pull back the veil of reality to offer glimpses into the most vulnerable places in the human psyche ... The 13 stories in this collection, two of which were co-written with Mr. Hill’s father, Stephen King, span a range of ideas and moods. The subjects are varied, many tapping into themes we have seen many times before, but reflected in the fractured mirror of Mr. Hill’s imagination.
Full of unhappy endings and an unflinching look at society, Hill calls to mind Harlan Ellison at his absolute best, with a penchant for cruel characters learning hard truths ... Hill’s monsters are often human, even when a true monster does (or maybe doesn’t) show up, and Hill shows his tight grasp of what makes people into banal but dangerous madmen.
Hill tackles his dark subjects with humanity and empathy, and his complex, fully realized characters leap into the imagination. This collection cements Hill’s reputation as a versatile master of scares both subtle and shocking.