Needful Things felt like a (sort of) light-hearted The Stand. There are a bazillion characters to follow in Needful Things and King does an excellentNeedful Things felt like a (sort of) light-hearted The Stand. There are a bazillion characters to follow in Needful Things and King does an excellent job at letting us completely immerse ourselves in the town of Castle Rock, Maine.
One really great thing about this story was the build-up of tension. Stephen King climbs that mountain slowly but NOT tediously. I was never bored; I never said, "okay okay, now for the explodey, please." King takes his time setting up each character in this story but, personally, I didn't mind because I enjoyed getting to know them all. When things DO begin to explode, it's a wild ride for sure.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It even has a moral!...more
Different Seasons is a collection of four novellas by Stephen King. As I have done in the past, I'll say a word about each of the stories individuallyDifferent Seasons is a collection of four novellas by Stephen King. As I have done in the past, I'll say a word about each of the stories individually.
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: Oh. My. Word. This story is... perfection. It's SO GOOD. The characters, the story, the story telling, the dialogue. Really. An angel must have been sitting on King's shoulder as he wrote this. This might be the best story I've ever read, ever. 6/5. No, seriously.
The Body: Something weird happened to me after reading this story. You see, while I was reading it, I did not like it. It seemed overly long and somewhat boring. I did love the characters, though. King sure can write some characters. Anyway, the weird thing was that after I read this, DAYS after, I was finding myself thinking about it and feeling like maybe I really did like it. So, 3/5.
Apt Pupil: This just really didn't do it for me. It was interesting enough and certainly disturbing but like The Body, I felt it was overly long and drawn out and... well, neither of the main characters were interesting enough for me to really get into it. 2/5.
The Breathing Method: Like the previous two, this story was slow in coming, slightly tedious. This novella actually seems to be two stories in one and it's a little awkward and ill-explained. But once we got down to the real story things really liven up. The story within the story is intriguing and I couldn't put my Kindle down until I'd finished reading it even though it was approaching 3am. 4/5.
As always the afterword by the author is good and might be my favorite afterword of King's that I've read thus far....more
Besides making me spontaneously sing Prodigy every time I look at the title, this King novel has so many different elements that intrigue me that I doBesides making me spontaneously sing Prodigy every time I look at the title, this King novel has so many different elements that intrigue me that I don't even know where to begin.
The premise is this: College students take part in a "safe and controlled" drug experiment run by a branch of the government similar to the CIA to earn some quick cash. The experiment leaves them with special powers like telekinesis and mental domination. And then let the games begin.
First we get into a eugenics sort of topic in that two of the test subjects get married and have a child. The child being the main character of the book: Charlie. Charlie shows diluted aspects of both her father's and her mother's gifts. What most intrigues the government, though, is her ability to light fires. Charlie is pyrokinetic.
Then we get into interesting child psychology. Charlie's parents need to scare (and mentally scar) her into NOT using her ability. I loved the comparison to potty training that King used. We become so mentally scarred by being punished for wetting ourselves that we become incapable of doing so. Charlie is still young, though, and the government hopes to break down this block in order to test Charlie's abilities and possibly use her as a weapon.
Now we're talking about secret government agencies and the cold war and plots for world domination. There's just so much in this book that there has got to be a little bit of something for everyone. I could go on and on about the different themes here, but I won't.
As usual, King writes the best characters I've ever met. I even liked the bad guys. Rainbird, in particular, is very well written. I felt like King must have done a lot of research to get this book right, what with all the psychological and physiological elements, but he did a very good job in making it all very believable.
I know it's a silly thing to note but I remember thinking that Stephen King did an amazing job of describing the crippling migraines that I am familiar with in Duma Key and I remember reading somewhere that this was a result of his accident in 1999. However! In Firestarter, Andy, father of Charlie, suffers from headaches as well and I find the vivid description not at all lacking. I guess I just like to know that someone out there can put into words what I cannot.
There was one other thing that was new to me in this piece, as well. I can't give details without spoiling a major part of the plot but at one point the quote, "Snake! SNAKE! SNAAAYYYKE!" appears in the middle of a very tense scene and I laughed right out loud. This was no chuckle, I had a good, hearty belly laugh over this in the middle of a very scary part of a King novel. This is the good stuff....more
To be fair, I don't generally like dystopian stories very much. I'm just like, "yeah, yeah, whatever." Isn't our society dystopian enough? Anyway, theTo be fair, I don't generally like dystopian stories very much. I'm just like, "yeah, yeah, whatever." Isn't our society dystopian enough? Anyway, there's not a lot to say about this novel. It is an early King novel and that shows through. It's a good story, but it doesn't have that oomph of later King novels.
The premise is this: In some alternate future, 100 teenage boys are selected by lottery to participate in the Long Walk, the "national sport," in which only 1 can win and all others die. The novel follows one contestant, Ray Garraty, on his journey.
My biggest problem with this novel was that we get virtually no backstory, there is no real world building here. We never find out what happened to bring about the tradition of the Long Walk. We never find out really WHO the Major is and why he apparently has control. I think understanding what things are like and at least some idea of how they got that way is the most important aspect of any dystopian novel and it is sadly missing here....more
Night Shift is a collection of twenty short stories by Stephen King and the first collection he released. It includes many stories relating to full-leNight Shift is a collection of twenty short stories by Stephen King and the first collection he released. It includes many stories relating to full-length novels he had already written or would later write such as Salem's Lot, The Stand, and Dreamcatcher.
I rated each short story separately and did so immediately after reading it so I wouldn't lose track of things. The total average score came to just over four stars.
1. Jerusalem's Lot: Prequel to 'Salem's Lot. Epistolary. Creepy but overly long. 3/5. 2. Graveyard Shift: Main character, Hall, seems poorly contrived. Why does he seem totally normal at the beginning and then completely bonkers at the end? 2/5 3. Night Surf: The precursor to The Stand. Excellent. I love the voice of Bernie. 5/5 4. I Am The Doorway: Ex-astronaut grows alien eyes in his hands. I wasn't sure if this was for real or if dude was just going crazy? 3/5 5. The Mangler: A possessed laundry machine. Interesting, since King worked in an industrial laundromat. 4/5 6. The Boogeyman: Vintage creep. Just excellent. 5/5 7. Gray Matter: Precursor to Dreamcatcher. This is the King voice that I know and love. 5/5 8. Battleground: Fun, action-packed story. Feels like King was playing with his action-writing skills here. 4/5 9. Trucks: What is king's obsession with possessed automobiles? Still, this was a decent read. 3/5 10. Sometimes They Come Back: What if the bullies of your past could come back to haunt you? Good voice, interesting subject. 5/5 11. Strawberry Spring: Someone is killing in the mist of a strawberry spring. King exercising his style muscles here again. Awesome creepy tale. 5/5 12. The Ledge: Suspenseful and emotional, but slightly bland in the character department. 4/5 13. Lawnmower Man: More evil machinery by Uncle Steve. Short and gruesome. 3/5 14. Quitters, Inc: Somehow, this lacked flavor to me. It was a good story, just not a King good story. 3/5 15. I Know What You Need: Wish I could give this 17 stars. Psychological horror. I wanted something climatic to happen at the end but I guess they can't all be gruesome. This one really makes a girl think: What do I REALLY need? 5/5 16. Children of the Corn: Oh MY. This is The Stand quality in short story form. I loved this story. It had suspense, it was creepy, it was scary, it made me think, and the characters were well done. Above all, obviously, it was amazing writing. 5/5 17. The Last Rung on the Ladder: This story made me burst into tears at the end. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time. 5/5 18. The Man Who Loved Flowers: Excellent writing. Very intense. King captures love in the springtime perfectly and makes you wonder what happened before this story began. 5/5 19. One for the Road: Another story featuring Salem's Lot that provides more insight. 4/5 20. The Woman in the Room: Not scary, purely emotional. Thought-provoking. 5/5 ...more
**spoiler alert** Uncle Steve is back!! As so, so many people have already noted, Full Dark, No Stars is THE perfect title for this collection. This i**spoiler alert** Uncle Steve is back!! As so, so many people have already noted, Full Dark, No Stars is THE perfect title for this collection. This is as dark as dark gets.
1922 This is the longest of the stories, a novella, really, told as the confession of Wilfred who kills his wife in order to save his farm. Not dark enough? He convinces his 14 year old son to help him do it. Dark, indeed. Sadly, rats don't impress me and as psychologically dark as 1922 was, I wasn't afraid. In fact, sadly, I was mostly bored. This one could have definitely used some more editing; it was drawn out and repetitive in some places. I also felt that Henry/Hank wanted more development: When he could have been doing interesting things, he went and slept for hours on end. It's believable, but I wanted more.
HOWEVER, I found the most meaning in this story, long as it was. All four stories deal with the dark nature of humanity and a theme of retribution. There is a LOT of that to speak of in this story. Everyone here is dark: Wilfred, Arlette (the wife), and Henry/Hank (the son). Did Wilfred get revenge on Arlette for trying to sell her property behind his back? Did The Powers That Be get revenge on Wilfred for killing her? (As he finds himself haunted, mad, and his entire life crumbling about his ears.) Did The Powers That Be get revenge on Henry/Hank for his robberies? (Losing his sweetheart and their unborn child.)
1922 explores guilt. 3/5 for making me skim.
Big Driver In this story, King rehashes the tried and true tale of the roadside killer. But he does it WELL. For the first half of this story, I was on the edge of my seat, reading approximately a million words a minute. I couldn't put it down and I was genuinely afraid. It slowed down as Tess overcame her immediate plight and descended into madness. This story was well paced and had an ending that leaves you wondering.
Big Driver explores trauma, shame, and rage. 4/5 for making me want to sleep with the lights on.
Fair Extension This is the one supernatural story in this collection. It is a very short, (basically) one-character story. Here, Harry Streeter is dying of cancer and makes a deal with the devil -- again, a pretty basic rehash, but Uncle Steve succeeds again. I liked this story, I really did. It made me think. But... it felt unfinished. Streeter is given 15 more years to live (or thereabouts) but we never see the end of that. What happens at the end? WHAT is the ending?? Is Harry 'punished' for his deal? Is his death more miserable than it might have been? Does he ever feel any remorse? Maybe this is the point. Maybe that's what makes it so dark. Maybe King wants us to wonder and question our own sense of right and wrong and the doling out of justice.
To me, this story emboldened the title Full Dark, No Stars because the main character was The Bad Guy here (like 1922) but shows no remorse (unlike 1922). The deal he makes is nasty enough, but watching his so-called best friend's life fall apart with no guilt or shame is about as nasty as nasty gets. On that note, I felt that Harry's hatred for Goodhugh (the friend) isn't fleshed out very well. However, this could simply be because I've never felt that sort of burning jealousy toward anyone.
Fair Extension is a no-nonsense look at what amounts to basic human badness. 4/5, and glad to see that no one went crazy in this story.
A Good Marriage By far the best of the four. This story was everything I love about Stephen King. It was REAL to me and it was emotional. I believed every aspect of this story, and shouldn't that be the goal of the fiction writer? I believed that Darcy could be married to a monster for 27 years and have not a clue. I believed that she could find out and do nothing. And then I believed that when the opportunity arose, she could finally do something. I found Darcy's little dip into madness in this story FAR more believable than Wilfred's in 1922 or Tess's in Big Driver. The insanity was applied gently and with care in this tale. Not only that, but the way she slips to the dark side and then recovers was believable and uplifting at the same time: The perfect ending to this quartet.
5/5 for being a perfect little package of darkness and fear....more
Johnny Smith is involved in a horrific car accident that results in the development of an old power he began to gain as a child. By touch alone he gleJohnny Smith is involved in a horrific car accident that results in the development of an old power he began to gain as a child. By touch alone he gleams random insights into a person: their future, their past, whatever.
I feel this book is first book King wrote that really displays his modern style. He makes the characters jump off the page and become a part of your reality during the time you spend reading them. It is easy to empathize with Johnny. I doubt very many of us have ever spent 5 years in a coma, but somehow Uncle Steve makes us understand how Johnny feels and the challenges he faces when he wakes up. It's hard to describe unless you've read a whole lot of King but I definitely feel this might be where King came into his own as an author. It's especially obvious if you do like me and try to read through King's bibliography chronologically (or as close as I can get).
I did feel that this story was a little whacky in it's progression though and that hurt its rating a tiny bit. The Dead Zone felt like 2 books smooshed into one binding (metaphorically, since I do all my reading on a Kindle). With very little effort it probably could've been split into The Dead Zone and then a sequel. You see, there are two bad guys in this book. There are two climaxes, two conclusions. It was different and different is fine but with a little editing these two storylines could have probably meshed a little better instead of one book having two endings....more
It took me a really long time to finish this and I think it just wasn't my cup of tea. The writing and the quality of characters kept me going but thiIt took me a really long time to finish this and I think it just wasn't my cup of tea. The writing and the quality of characters kept me going but this is more psychological thriller where I prefer pure creep....more