Excellent follow up to The Shining. This is classic King, touching on all the subjects he has explored throughout his career, but without the over-the...moreExcellent follow up to The Shining. This is classic King, touching on all the subjects he has explored throughout his career, but without the over-the-top aspects in some of his books (wasn't there some kind of evil vending machine in The Tommyknockers?). I've stuck with King through the good and the bad, but I have to admit I'm extremely pleased to see him back in such fine form for this book.
Okay, here's the gist of the story:
A grown-up Danny Torrance is dealing with the fallout from the nightmare he and his mother endured at the Overlook Hotel, as well as the damage done by his father's alcoholism. King takes his time here, strolling through this period in Dan's life, letting us take a nice long look at just how low a person can get. Oddly, this doesn't drag at all -- it's all very compelling, most likely because most of us have probably been curious about what happened to Danny and Wendy after the events in The Shining.
This part of the story is interspersed with glimpses of the Stone family -- grandmother Concetta, granddaughter Lucia, her husband David, and Lucy and Dave's daughter, Abra. Again, although we're given a substantial amount of detail, it feels just right.
We are also shown the group the True Knot (you might call them psychic vampires, I suppose) -- they roam the highways of the U.S., searching for children with psychic ability (shining), whom they torture and kill in order to devour their essence.
As a parent (thanks, Mr. King), I found the scenes with children in danger particularly disturbing -- King really does a good job conveying the menace of this group effectively. At the same time, he also shows very clearly how close the True Knot members are, as well as explaining how they are able to do what they do to children -- they are, in many ways, advanced or superior to humans, and they view us no differently than we would view an animal we would slaughter and eat. I found this idea thought provoking, as well as troubling, and I know I'll be pondering it for some time.
Inevitably, all the story lines come together, some in quite surprising ways. I felt King did a really great job of keeping everything running smoothly, as well as keeping readers unfamiliar with The Shining up to speed without boring those who had already read the first book. That said, I think one would enjoy Doctor Sleep more if they read The Shining first.
King kept me guessing a bit towards the end, unsure if the characters I'd grown fond of would make it through to the end. I think he handled it all just about perfectly, and even threw in a poignant moment towards the end.
Beautifully written, but so completely not my kind of thing, I'm splitting the difference between my personal rating (3 stars) and what it probably de...moreBeautifully written, but so completely not my kind of thing, I'm splitting the difference between my personal rating (3 stars) and what it probably deserves (5 stars). These aren't stories so much as fragments, pieces of the characters' lives that are complex and intricate, but also ultimately frustrating when there is no real resolution (or even overt conflict). My personal preference is for the bizarre or shocking, characters and situations that one would never experience in daily life -- in that respect, these stories reflect the more mundane aspects of life, although it feels unfair to characterize them in that way. If the author ever ventures into writing about stranger subjects, I will definitely try her again.(less)
Another lovely book from William Joyce, this is the first book of his "Guardians" series. This installment is a magical, fairytale style story of St....moreAnother lovely book from William Joyce, this is the first book of his "Guardians" series. This installment is a magical, fairytale style story of St. Nicholas (here, Nicholas St. North). In Joyce's world, St. North is a master thief who is magically persuaded to travel to the village of Santoff Claussen by the wizard Ombric. Ombric believes St. North is the one person who can help him defeat the evil Pitch and his shadowy Nightmare Men and Fearlings.
I really enjoyed Joyce's creativity in this book, as well as his typical nostalgic artwork. Many of his pet themes are here: St. Nicholas, the moon and moon men, space travel, and small children having big adventures. Every Joyce book is really an experience larger than simply reading a book -- it's more like immersing yourself in a whole new universe, one that you might like never to return from.
I do have a couple of small quibbles with this book, though. For as pretty as the book itself is, I was disappointed that more care wasn't taken with the editing -- simple mistakes, such as "pummel" for "pommel" and "allusive" rather than "elusive" made me sad. An artist of Joyce's caliber should be better served by his editors. On Joyce's part, I do have to admit to a bit of choppiness in the storytelling, but fans of his will know by now that there is sometimes a bit more emphasis on the style than the substance. As a VERY big fan, I accept this in his work -- the beauty of the story and Joyce's incredible artwork simply outweighs any faults I might find in the storytelling (which, for the most part, is still quite compelling).
If you are at all interested in this book, do yourself a favour and skip all the reviews -- don't even read the GoodReads description or the descripti...moreIf you are at all interested in this book, do yourself a favour and skip all the reviews -- don't even read the GoodReads description or the description on the back of the book. This is definitely one of those books where you will enjoy it more the less you know going into it.
(view spoiler)[Zack Parsons took a look around the bookstore and said to himself, "Genres are for chumps! I'm gonna write a book that breaks down these walls!"
And then he did.
Like westerns? Check. Noir? Check. Sci Fi, Dystopian, Alternative History? Check, check, and check!
What's so amazing about all of this is that Parsons doesn't just throw some genre details into his plot -- oh no, that's not challenging enough for this guy. He actually crafts his story within the parameters of each genre, with the setting, characters, and style all completely and perfectly written within those parameters.
The book opens in 1874, with two men -- outlaw and sheriff, husband and lover of the same woman -- facing off over a botched train robbery. Their actions -- and the consequences of those actions -- will affect not only the rest of their lives, but also the lives of every living thing on this planet.
The story takes a bit of time getting to that horrifying result, but believe me, you won't be in a hurry to reach the ending -- before you get there you'll be immersed in a pitch perfect 1800s Western and 1950s hard bitten gumshoe noir. We follow these two men, seeing how their hatred for each other (and their love for their mutual lost love) taints their lives, ultimately leading to the collapse of civilization itself.
That collapse is truly horrifying in parts, and the feeling of dread leading up to the ending of the book is very uncomfortable -- Parsons has spent a lot of time thinking about the end of the world, apparently. It was all too easy to imagine similar circumstances (if not similar causes) in our own world.
I do have one slight nitpicky issue with this book -- I thought the origin of the Veronicas was going to be tied back to the child Annie died giving birth to, adding to the despair and loss of the Warrens. Unfortunately, the author never addresses this question directly -- or if he did, I completely missed it.
I absolutely loved how the author tied the very beginning of the book into the very end -- what is initially bizarre because we have no frame of reference for what we're reading becomes poignant when we reach the end. I thought this part was very well done. (hide spoiler)]
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Read it - you will not be disappointed.
I've read other A. Lee Martinez books and enjoyed them, but this one just missed the mark for me. Likable characters, but disjointed and meandering, t...more I've read other A. Lee Martinez books and enjoyed them, but this one just missed the mark for me. Likable characters, but disjointed and meandering, trying too hard for a The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tone, but failing -- I found this to be a real slog, and could barely force myself to finish it. On the plus side, if I ever get another pit bull, I'll have no choice but to name her Snarg, after the protagonist's pet ultrapede.(less)