Posts Tagged ‘stephen king’

Another Stephen King book. Not sure how many that makes it this year, but I’m getting through them. Right now I’m at 72 books read this year, and have two more Stephen King books (The Long Walk and The Green Mile) that I’ve read but not reviewed yet. So look out for my reviews of those and other books over the next month.

While I wouldn’t say The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is my favorite Stephen King, it is right up there. It’s a shorter book – only 264 pages – and is one of his milder ones.

Here’s the blurb:

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.

Trisha is an engaging character, which is just as well since we spend most of the book with just her. She’s someone determined to try and make the best of things by playing the chipper little sister to her downer brother who seems to complain about everything. You know those annoying kids who insist everything you’re doing is wrong and ‘life is so against me,’ ‘it’s not fair,’ ‘all I want is to have my every whim catered to, is that so much to ask?’ Yup, he is one of those. I’ve met a few of those in my time, and even though I spent a relatively small amount of pages in his company I felt sorry for Trisha and her mother. In his favor though, Trisha going missing does seem to push him out of his selfish mode, and he does have his reasons – though I don’t think there’s enough to be THAT much of a brat.

Trisha turns her determined mindset to getting herself out of the mess she’s gotten herself into. She makes a lot of good choices, but being nine years old she makes some bad ones too and those result in her wandering further away from safety. And of course since this is Stephen King there’s something very creepy following her. Despite trying to keep her chipper attitude she goes through a lot of being scared, but there’s a moment at the end where she finds her courage. You really feel like she achieves something in that moment, like all that hardship has made her a stronger person.

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard about this book is to say that a child that young wouldn’t survive so long alone in the woods. I disagree. A while ago I read an article about a six year old who lead three two year olds, one three year old, a 14 month old to safety after hurricane katrina, while carrying his five month old brother. Kids can and have done amazing things. They can have surprising adaptivity and determination to survive.

I’d say if you like survival stories and like Stephen King then read this one. Don’t expect as much gore as his usual books, though there is a little. For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11564.The_Girl_Who_Loved_Tom_Gordon

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I think this one be one of those Stephen King books like Cujo that a lot of people hate and I end up loving. It’s one of his milder books, which might be why it has some laying hate on it. Not saying there isn’t any gore. This is Stephen King, of course there’s something icky hiding in those pages, but this is a good entry novel for someone not sure if they can stomach Stephen King in his full flair. Be warned though, this is a long, long, long book at 890 pages, so if you’re looking to try out Stephen King but aren’t into marathon reads, you might want to start with something shorter and work up to this one. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is another milder book of his that is much shorter. I’ll be posting a review for that one in a few weeks.

Let’s have a look at the blurb:

Since his wife died, Ralph Roberts has been having trouble sleeping. Each night he awakens a little earlier until he’s barely sleeping at all. During his late night vigils and walks, he observes some strange things going on in Derry, Maine. He sees colored ribbons streaming from people’s heads. He witnesses two strange little men wandering the city under cover of night. He begins to suspect that these visions are something more than hallucinations brought about by sleep deprivation. Ralph and his friend, widow Lois Chasse, become enmeshed in events of cosmic significance.

This book starts off as a sweet if sad story about an elderly man trying to come to terms with his beloved wife’s imminent death. Of course since this is Stephen King we quickly get some hints that something supernatural is at work in this world when a man from our guy’s neighborhood starts acting strange. Since his wife dies shortly after he puts the weird occurrence out of his mind, but of course this is the first part of a much larger plot that includes auras, telepathy, creatures no one else can see, and a plan that will kill hundreds if he does nothing to stop it.

The characters are flawed. Something I like about Stephen King is that his characters are such imperfect people. I particularly liked that the higher level beings we meet are just as flawed and unsure about everything as humanity. I did worry at first that our main female character seemed kind of ditsy and uninteresting, but as she becomes more central to the plot she fleshes out. The bad guys weren’t as fleshed out. Our main human bad guy has his touches of humanity which is nice, but his entourage are faceless, and the primary reason for what they do seems to be crazy people with extreme ideas.

Now I realize that a lot of people who help with a plot to kill are going to be a little on the nutty side, but several people with what seems like exactly the same brand of crazy seems far fetched. It’s true that the condition of crazy might’ve been influenced by the supernatural. I remember at least one of them who had definitely been pushed in that way, but he thought he was acting of his own free will, rationalizing the orders he was supposed to carry out. Even if they were all pushed this way, I’d have liked to see some of them rationalize it in different ways. Sure maybe one pro-lifer (the group of people the influenced were selected from) rationalizes that killing this pro-choicer will really help their cause and is all scarily enthusiastic, but another sees the deed as a mercy killing, thinks they’re saving the person from their own bad choices and gets no thrill out of it whatsoever. And someone somehow manages to fight the influence even if fleetingly, proving that there is something more to these guys than hands to hold guns and knives while smiling identical crazy grins and spouting propaganda like meatbag puppets. I like to see the cracks of humanity in bad guys, or at least some identity, just like I occasionally like to see the cracks of darkness in some of my heroes.

It did take a while to get to the action, so some might find it slow but I found myself enjoying the flow of it. I had no problems with the pacing, but I definitely wouldn’t describe it as action packed.

I think the thing I loved most about it was the world Stephen King built. In this book reality has levels. As you go higher you get to see parts of the world usually invisible: auras, thoughts, knowledge about people you shouldn’t know, creatures no one else can see. Go higher still as you become invisible to people back on your level and can float through solid objects like they aren’t there. Go too high and you can lose your mind.

It’s always nice to imagine the world has more depth we’re not aware of. And I find the idea that the best way to use these extra layers is to first turn yourself mad through lack of sleep poetic. Madness and enlightenment always make an intriguing combination.

I’d say if you’re a fan of Stephen King and don’t mind longer books with a slower pace then read this one. For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10585.Insomnia

 

Another Stephen King. I’m slowly making my way through them.

Aliens, but not as we think of them. No wise green aliens asking to be taken to our leader. These guys are creepy and chaotic, and did I mention creepy? Best of all they’re kind of stupid. It’s nice to see something different from the wise alien race that attacks or greets our planet and somehow have our kind of intelligence, only on a bigger scale and with morality optional.

These guys are really intelligent, and also really stupid. It’s just a different kind of intelligence that doesn’t quite mesh with our own. It’s not vastly different enough to be really novel, but it does make it interesting. Off the top of my head, I’d recommend ‘Ender’s Game,’ for an alien species with a different enough mentality to be really thought provoking. Kristine Rusch also has some very interesting species in some of her short stories. Tommyknockers doesn’t reach that level of intrigue, but the species is interesting enough to read about.

The start’s a bit slow, but if you read a lot of Stephen King then you’re used to that. It has a faster pace than some of his other books like IT. Good book, but didn’t get going for me until about half way through. For me the last half was worth it though.

Characters are interesting. I liked Bobby, she’s a nice character so you feel the pain of slowly losing her to the alien influence. Yet there’s just enough of her, right to the end that you understand why Gard is finding it so difficult to give up on her. Gard was another interesting character, flawed, but good. You do feel Gard’s dilemma. He wants to help Bobby, but doesn’t know how to go about it without risking her or his own life. Plus he just wants to believe she’s still there.

The plot was decent. Not my favorite Stephen King, but good enough to keep my interest. I’d say if you like Stephen King give it a go. The ending was my favorite part. I won’t give it away, but it wrapped things up nicely and felt like a satisfying conclusion.

Here’s the link to more reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17660.The_Tommyknockers

 

Another Stephen King. I’m slowly making my way through them.

This one ranks right up there with my current fav Stephen King book ‘Cujo,’ (I know everyone seems to hate that one, but you can’t help what you love). The writing as usual was excellent. The guy is a master of prose.

Sometimes I feel his stories meander, but this one felt on point all the way through. And before I continue, I best let you know what it’s about in case you don’t know. Here’s the blurb:

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

He keeps the tension high all the way through. I did wonder about the religious lady though, she seems two dimensional. He did make a point to say she’d been harmless before the whole mist thing, which I liked. It made the psychology of it all more interesting. The other characters seemed decent enough.

The psychology side of things made it all more interesting. Some ordinary characters became heroes, and other ordinary characters became villains. Some people turned stupid, while others kept their heads. I love that exploration of how ordinary people react to a crisis.

We get theories about what caused it all, and some evidence supporting one of theories, but no one outright confirms it. For me that worked, because you as the reader are put in the same confused mindset the characters are in. You don’t know how far the mist has gone. If there is an end you can reach, or if it covers the whole world.

That same ambiguity covers the ending of the story. You leave the characters still in the mist. You don’t know if they’ll get out, or if they’ll even survive another day. There’s a certain hopelessness to the whole thing, but also at the end a thread of hope. They might make it, or they might not.

I think overall I preferred that ending to the completely downer ending of the movie version. Don’t get me wrong, the movie version had one of the most powerful endings I’ve seen, but I liked that the book ended with a little hope, no matter how meager.

So, if you like Stephen King ‘The Mist’ is worth a read. And in case you want to read more reviews on this book before making up your mind, here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/813214.The_Mist

I think my main motivation for reading this book was to feel more in the know whenever I come across a Cujo reference. Plus I am a big fan of Stephen King. I read four of his books last year (including the mammoth ‘It’) and countless short stories, but I think Cujo is my favorite work of his I’ve read. I feel really bad saying that, because he mentions in his book ‘On Writing’ that he was really heavy into drugs while writing it. But no, there’s no getting around it, this is a great book.

For those not in the know, here’s the blurb:

A big, friendly dog chases a rabbit into a hidden underground cave–and stirs a sleeping evil crueler than death itself. A terrified four-year-old boy sees his bedroom closet door swing open untouched by human hands, and screams at the unholy red eyes gleaming in the darkness. The little Maine town of Castle Rock is about to be invaded by the most hideous menace ever to savage the flesh and devour the mind.

There’s something smooth about the writing that made it more enjoyable than his other books (though they’re enjoyable too). I’ve come across some people who hate it. The primary complaints seem to be the sad moment at the end of the book (no spoilers shall be given – go read it if you want to know), and the slow pacing.

To be honest I didn’t mind the slow pacing. There aren’t as many deaths in this book as I’m used to in a Stephen King novel, but the tension before each one is ramped up. This is a book of tension rather than gore and blood splatter (though being Stephen King there is a fair bit of that too). I think I actually preferred the tense approach. It made the book more realistic than some of his others, and thus more terrifying.

And for the sad ending, I have nothing against that. Sometimes books don’t end happy, even when we want them to. It added to the realism as well. That moment will stay with me, and that’s what good books should do.

The most horrifying thing about the book is that there’s no black and white bad guys. In ‘It’ we have ‘It the monster’, in ‘The regulators’ another monster ‘Tak’ and in ‘Cycle of the Werewolf’ we have funnily enough a werewolf. In Cujo there’s no big bad behind all the destruction. There’s just normal people, some nice, some nasty, and a sick dog.

You end up feeling sorry for Cujo, just like you do the other characters. I found it an interesting book. Stephen King reminds us that we don’t need monsters to terrorize us. There are things in the world we live in that are just as scary.

My opinion: If you like Stephen King and don’t mind sad endings then try this out. Just bear in mind that the pace is slower than a usual Stephen King novel. Here’s the link to more reviews on this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11598.Cujo