Read years ago, only recently realized it wasn't in any of my shelves. A must-read, perhaps I'll be rereading soon, now that's it's come to my attenti...moreRead years ago, only recently realized it wasn't in any of my shelves. A must-read, perhaps I'll be rereading soon, now that's it's come to my attention again.(less)
The Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main c...moreThe Hunt for Xanadu is a gripping, fast-paced story, right from the opening scene. The characters are refreshing and don't act predictable. The main character, Kelsey Porter, is a fascinating mix of skilled hero and vulnerable young woman. Events throw her together with Detective Desmond Gisborne, but because they share a common goal does not mean these two are happy to work together. The elements of Buddhism woven with fantasy created a unique story set in modern day that stayed with me after I put it down for the night. Multiple story threads came together in a wonderful web that took the characters around the globe and by the end had me breathless. Just don't plan on stopping in the middle of the last chapter! It's a doozy!
Can't wait for the sequel to see what Kelsey's up to next!(less)
I understand why this book is so long. It's not just a story. It's an apocalyptic epic of the struggle between good and evil. Like Lord of the Rings,...moreI understand why this book is so long. It's not just a story. It's an apocalyptic epic of the struggle between good and evil. Like Lord of the Rings, and that took three long books to tell that story.
The variety of characters Stephen King creates is impressive. There are so many different players, from so many walks of life, appropriate for an apocalyptic story as this. I've seen warnings of overelaborate character development, but the character development doesn't drag -- it's simply *deep*. His characters come to life on the page. And the menace of the plague spreads as we learn about the characters, so the plot develops at the same time. It's actually kind of creepy how gradually the disease has developed, as part of the story. Yet, in the story, it's developing like wild fire. Neat trick.
Although it was updated to the 1990s, the updating was minimal. It's still clearly written in the late 70s. The story feels like the 70s, from references to music, the dialogue used, attitudes, etc. But I suppose it would have meant rewriting rather than updating to really make it feel like the 1990s.
And the villain - the Dark Man - creepy doesn't even begin to describe him. King managed to balance developing his character with a lack of description that resulted in maximum creepiness.
(view spoiler)[It's interesting that those who are drawn to the Dark Man are not evil people by definition. I would call them weak. A lot of them are just afraid. Others are looking for something they thought they've found in him. The Dark Man knows this. He gathers weak people he can seduce into believing what he's selling. He's searching for people who've given up on second chances, salvation, goodness. Cynicism, despair, hate, these are what feed the Dark Man. And he's hungry.
Well-written, great characters, building up with lots of tension and creepiness.
Except the climax ...wasn't.
I was actually disappointed with what was supposed to be the big climax scene. It was supposed to be The Stand. The battle between good and evil.
Instead, it was a brief conflict, and the heroes weren't even the active parties in the villain's destruction. They came to the West, to Las Vegas, to make their Stand. They knew they'd probably die in the process, and one of them was killed right away. The odd thing was that the villain, Flagg, was already losing it. Not really losing his power, but his ability to See, his focus, and his minions were leaving him, defecting, abandoning him. As a result, his overall badassery was diminishing already.
In the end, what vanquishes Flagg is only partly due to Larry and Ralph, the only two left. After being caged, about to be brutally killed before Flagg's people, the most they can do is try to instigate someone to rebel. To their surprise, it works, and Whitney the Cook defies Flagg to tell them what they're doing is wrong. Flagg is unruffled, since he Saw that this would happen, but he indulges himself in a little payback and produces this little ball of electricity to torture Whitney a bit.
This sets up his demise, but doesn't cause it. It's really the Trashcan Man, one of his own people, who ends it for all of them. His arrival at the camp with a hot nuclear missile essentially ended everything -- Trash was nearly dead himself from radiation poisoning already, and they'd soon be toast too. So in reality, his return is what killed them. Which Flagg couldn't foresee because he hadn't ever been able to See into the minds of those who weren't quite right in the head, like Tom and like Trash. Just driving up in his little cart, with a missile in the back, and it's over.
But Flagg loses track of his little powerball, the ball of electricity, and it's drawn to the missile, which sealed the end of all of them. Even that end was anticlimactic for me. The reader doesn't get much here. Larry sees it coming, and he's glad. He sees the end coming and it comes in a silent, white light.
And it's over.
In a matter of a couple of pages, and then in one line, it was over. I expected more. The story's called The Stand, after all. But I don't see how it was a stand at all. Instead, the heroes go into enemy territory, are captured, and one of the bad guy's minions brings in a weapon that explodes because the bad guy lost track of one of his toys.
When Stu sees the explosion, it's from miles away and that's how we see the climactic moment: from miles away. Not really satisfying. Stu's not involved in the moment. He has survived it, and what follows is a gratifying resolution in their eventual arrival home. But I was left a bit dissatisfied, like it had been an incomplete meal. (hide spoiler)]
And yet, it was worth it. The story itself is like no other. The characters are memorable, and many fulfilled their destinies in style. King ends the story with a twist that adds an extra touch of creepy that is all his own.
There's a reason why he's the King.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
What an adventure that was! Imagine my surprise, after I finally decided to spend the time reading the 500+ page book, to find while reading the intro...moreWhat an adventure that was! Imagine my surprise, after I finally decided to spend the time reading the 500+ page book, to find while reading the introduction that this was the abridged version! Well, the abridged version would have to do! My love for the play Les Miserables brought me to the book. It was a different experience, though I bridged the two by listening to the soundtrack on occasion while reading. Being so familiar with the play, reading the book was like learning the backstory to characters I already knew and loved. I learned much more about the lives of Fantine, Marius, and Cosette before their lives intersected. And of course, far more about Jean Valjean. I got to understand his motivations more intimately, his trials and sufferings more acutely. I agonized with him over his decisions. I witnessed his transformation. It now feels like the play version of Les Mis is a sort of Cliff Notes to the story. So much more happened. Jean Valjean was far more complex. Although, as in the play, nearly everyone dies in the book as well. So some things remained the same. It's not an easy read. It's not just old 19C language, it's translated 19C language. I definitely did a bit of my own translating and drawing meaning from context. And I took my time, read a few other books along the way. But it was worth every minute. (less)
Hilarious and yet oddly informative, don't read Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race for the info - it's in what's not said, what's r...moreHilarious and yet oddly informative, don't read Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race for the info - it's in what's not said, what's read between the lines, the truth in the sarcasm or the irony where you find the nuggets of truth. Or in moments of brutal honesty. But it really should be called Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the 21stC American. The authors don't really pretend their version of events and facts aren't from the American perspective, except that they do. And it's American, not even a Western perspective. I think it would have been even funnier if the point of view was broader.
As with The Daily Show, if you're informed on the topics they touch upon, you will get the jokes. And they are many. (less)