What an unusual read....I'm not even sure how to describe it. Unexpected? Atmospheric? Bizarre? Enthralling? Confusing? Jarring? Weird? Vague? Excellent?
I have not read anything else by John Darnielle and I'd be curious to know if this fits the same "theme" as his other writing(s). Universal Harvester is very well-written. The characters are fascinating and Darnielle allows us just small glimpses of them before he moves to another aspect of the story. I was kept guessing as to what was happening in the immediate portion of the story...and for the story at large.
I was expecting a thriller and a mystery, but I'm not sure that this is what that was. I do not want to give any spoilers as that would ruin the experience of the story...but this defied my expectations in many ways.
Because of the vagueness of the story I think this book may frustrate some readers. Go into the story for an atmospheric read and let it take you where it will...expectations about genre or typical plot progression may cause the reader to be irritated at the pacing and story. I wasn't sure what I was going to read when I opened up the book...and I think that's the perfect start to a wonderfully weird story.