When the young daughter of one of my close friends was told that her grandfather had passed away, she was obviously sad about the news, but her ultima...moreWhen the young daughter of one of my close friends was told that her grandfather had passed away, she was obviously sad about the news, but her ultimate diagnosis of the situation was this:
“Yeah, but his farts smelled bad.”
And though it had been only a few days since the death of my friend’s father when I heard this, I couldn’t help but laugh heartily from the pit of my stomach.
In addition to my friend’s father, my great aunt also passed away this year. His father’s passing was random and completely unexpected, my great aunt’s death, however, was not. Her body was crippled with arthritis, her mind was crippled with dementia and on a lovely spring day her body and mind were one in the idea that this had gone on long enough. She passed away quietly and peacefully, and, according to the nurse who found her, with a smile on her face.
When I heard the news, I was sad of course, but more than that I was relieved. It’s not death that I fear, but living a life of suffering like my great aunt had that terrifies me the most. Sometimes, dead really is better. I know that, my aunt knew that, Jud Crandall knew that, but apparently Louis Creed thought otherwise.
One can hardly blame him for the way he feels though; the deaths he experiences in Pet Semetary are accidental and/or unexpected. But really, after the stories he’s heard and the results he has seen for himself, you’d think he’d stop trying out the resurrection thing. I think that is what makes this story creepy, not the resurrections, but the fact that he keeps on trying. He clearly doesn’t subscribe to the idea that sometimes dead is better, but he does seem to like the idea of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” The desperation is what is sad and creepy here.
All I know is, if someone brought my great aunt back, she’d be pissed. The life she had lived from the few years before her death was no way to end a life. My friend’s father may have been a better candidate for resurrection; he died unexpectedly of a heart attack while working out at a gym (go figure)...
But then again, could you imagine what those zombie farts would smell like?(less)
This turned out to be better than I feared it would be and about as good as (maybe a little better than) I hoped it would be. And I’ll be honest; I di...moreThis turned out to be better than I feared it would be and about as good as (maybe a little better than) I hoped it would be. And I’ll be honest; I didn’t have terribly high hopes for this when it was first announced. It wasn’t until people actually got to reading it and saying that it wasn’t just a rehash of The Shining that my hopes went up a little. But still I was worried a bit. It had been so very long since The Shining and I was worried that maybe it had been too long.
I did have some trouble getting into Doctor Sleep in the beginning, mostly, I think, because of the time skips. Sometimes it wasn’t perfectly clear time had jumped again until you’d been reading for a few pages. But, the skips were necessary. There was a lot of time to cover between the Overlook and present day, and once time settled down and the story got to the meat of it all, it was a very pleasant read.
The characters in Doctor Sleep are probably its best feature, from Dan and Abra right down to the cat, Azzie, and everyone inbetween. I’ve seen some people say they’d like to see another book about Dan after this. Me, I’d like to see a book about Abra when she gets older. I don’t think the shining will be weakening in her as she ages. I think she will only get stronger.(less)
Man, I forgot how much I like this book. Until now, it had been about twelve years (or more) since I last read The Shining. I wanted to read it again...moreMan, I forgot how much I like this book. Until now, it had been about twelve years (or more) since I last read The Shining. I wanted to read it again because I was about to read Doctor Sleep and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any subtle references that may have come up. I’m really glad I did, it was a nice set up for reading Doctor Sleep, but most of all because The Shining really is a superb book.
I really love books that get into your head (House of Leaves, John Dies at the End, any of HP Lovecraft’s longer stories); they are the only kind of book that can really succeed in scaring me, and The Shining is right at the top of that list (ok, well, really its tired with House of Leaves).
The topiaries and the hornets’ nest were probably the things that wigged me out the most, but overall the book is creepy as hell. No slow decent into madness could be anything but.
Watch out, it creeps.
[On a side note: I watched the movie shortly after finishing the book. As with the book, it had been many, many years since I’d seen the movie. Long story short, it doesn’t hold candle to the book.](less)
Sometimes this was a fun book to read, other times it was actually pretty creepy, and still, other times it was pretty damned boring. Not the worst of...moreSometimes this was a fun book to read, other times it was actually pretty creepy, and still, other times it was pretty damned boring. Not the worst of King's books, but certainly not his best. Probably didn't help that sci-fi alien-fests really aren't my cup of tea (most of the time). I feel less bad about not having gotten a long to reading this yet, I wasn't missing too much. (less)
Cheese and rice! This was one heck of a story. Anyone who reads SK regularly knows that he's not know for writing the best romantic couples, but I thi...moreCheese and rice! This was one heck of a story. Anyone who reads SK regularly knows that he's not know for writing the best romantic couples, but I think for once he got it right (or at the very least, he got it right for what this particular story called for). This book is just over flowing with so much...stuff (that's the best way I can think of putting it). There is happiness and sadness, death and life, love and hate, suspense, drama, action, and even a bit of horror; but not the supernatural ghost kind. The real kind. The every day kind. Then, add to that an element that makes it all that much more hectic, TIME TRAVEL, and you end up with one Hell of a ride. This is definitely one of those books I did not want to put down, and wouldn't have if life (damn you!) hadn't occasionally got in the way.
This has always been a favorite of mine as far as Stephen King books are concerned, and having recently re-read the Dark Tower Series, it put me in th...moreThis has always been a favorite of mine as far as Stephen King books are concerned, and having recently re-read the Dark Tower Series, it put me in the mood to read Insomnia again. My mother originally bought me this book as a kind of joke, hoping that perhaps, inside the pages, I would find a cure for my own insomnia. We were both doubtful, but the thought gave us a good laugh. Needless to say, here in lies no cure for insomnia, in fact, once the story gets going, it's hard to put down, which may in actuality reduce the hours of sleep you get.
I've always appreciated the 'realness' of the characters in this book, and I equally enjoy the chance to see the world through the older, wiser eyes of the elder side of humanity. And, of course, anything Dark Tower related is a plus in my book.(less)
There are some books (like Song of Susannah) that I have a hard time reviewing because I'm on the fence about them and there are some books (like Hous...moreThere are some books (like Song of Susannah) that I have a hard time reviewing because I'm on the fence about them and there are some books (like House of Leaves) that I have a hard time reviewing because they leave me speechless.
The Dark Tower is one of those books that falls into the latter category. This is the 4th or 5th time I've read the series through from start to finish, and not a single time have I adequately been able to express my feelings on this book. Oh sure, I've fangasmed to people I know, but if you ask them, I bet they'd tell you it was never quite coherent. And in reviews of other books I've referenced the Dark Tower when talking about endings (I don't want a happy ending, I want the right ending). But trying to put down my feelings 'on paper' has always proved impossible.
So I guess instead of a review, I'll just say this:
Thankee-sai King. Thankee very, very much for the thrilling, chilling, emotional ride that has spanned nearly twenty years of my life. And thankee for giving us Roland, a character whose complexity and determination will never be matched, as far as I'm concerned.(less)
Song of Susannah has always been a hard book for me to give an opinion on, so this is going to be really short.
On the one hand, I really enjoy the pa...moreSong of Susannah has always been a hard book for me to give an opinion on, so this is going to be really short.
On the one hand, I really enjoy the parts of the book that focus on Roland & Eddie and Jake & Pere Callahan, but on the other hand, the parts that focus on Susannah and Mia, I could do without. In fact, pretty much every time I've read this after the first reading, I've mostly skimmed those parts. I've never found Susannah a particularly interesting character. Her schizophrenia is interesting to me, but as a character, she could have been someone else and I wouldn't have had a problem with that. I've said before that Detta drives me insane and Mia, though not a new personality, but instead a demon possessing Susannah, also does nothing for me and, more often than not, pushes me towards the insanity line (I know exactly why it is that I don't like her, she's a Momma Bear to the extreme, who can only think of her child, and nothing else, and those kind of women, in the real world, are the types that avoid with a passion.)
Despite how much I enjoy other parts of Song of Susannah, this is, unfortunately, my least favorite of the series. It gets three stars because Roland & Eddie's gun fight and travels in the Keystone World are excellent (and John Cullum is probably my favorite minor character of the series), and Jake & Callahan's bravery trying to save Susannah is equaled by few. Also because I do enjoy King's self insertion into the storyline. It's clear to me that this series has impacted him more than anything else he's written and has become a large part of who he is, and for that he should be allowed his own part in the story. Gah, see what I mean about it being hard for me. So much of this book is great, but at the same time, I just cannot bring myself to enjoy Susannah/Mia's part of the tale. O, Discordia.(less)
On, June 19th, 1999 I turned 17, which is no great milestone year. I was still a year away from being able to buy my own cigarettes and four years awa...moreOn, June 19th, 1999 I turned 17, which is no great milestone year. I was still a year away from being able to buy my own cigarettes and four years away from buying alcohol. To be truthful, these days, I don't even remember what I did to celebrate that year. If it hadn't been for the van that hit Stephen King that day, my 17th birthday would pretty much have flown under the radar. I can't remember how I celebrated, but I can remember, with much clarity, when my mother told me about the accident, and I had the same reaction that I'm sure many other Tower Junkies had "Well fuck, now he'll never finish the Dark Tower books". Of course, immediately after I said that I felt terribly selfish, but one look in my mother's eyes told me she had thought the same thing.
Now, given my reaction to the accident, one would expect that, a few years later, when sai King did in fact start publishing the last three Tower books, I would have scooped them up right away. Well, you'd think that, wouldn't you? First, I wanted to wait for all three to be published, so I could read all of them straight through to the end. Then life got complicated and I moved to Las Vegas, and the city sort of kept me from reading (its hard with all those flashing lights). The Tower Junkie in me was taking a rest (had been for a long time) but my mother would renew that fever in me in 2006, when, for my birthday, she sent me the three final books. And once they were in my hands, I gobbled them up like the addict I was and since then, have taken much delight in rereading them.
Wolves of the Calla takes its cues from The Magnificent Seven, and is the most Western themed of the series since the first book. A town is in trouble, and only the gunslingers can save it. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well, by now we know that nothing is ever straight forward for Roland and his traveling band of gunslingers. Add in todash journeys, Susannah's pregnancy, time slips in the Keystone World, the vulnerability of the rose in the vacant lot, and the reappearance of one Father Callahan, and you've got the makings of a pretty fine, exciting read. Which is exactly what Wolves of the Calla is.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am not a big fan of the vampire genre, but 'Salem's Lot is a fairly decent book, and I always liked Callahan. Hearing of his todash journeys, his crusade against the vampires and how he ran from the low men, all of it is wonderful to read. He was the last person I expected to show up in a Dark Tower book, but I am very glad he did.
All in all, Wolves of the Calla is good reading, there are plenty of wonderful characters that pop up in the course of the book and lots of action, plotting, planning and even some mystery. There is a great sense of urgency here (and in the remaining two books) that isn't quite felt in the previous four. Now though, things are clearly winding to a close, and all at once so much needs to get done. And even though this is the 4th or 5th time I've read Wolves, I still felt the panic rising in me, hoping that Roland and his crew could get everything done in time.
I'd say this is probably my second favorite book in the series, right behind The Gunslinger, which will always be my favorite.(less)
These days I find Wizard and Glass to be sort of a mixed bag, but it wasn't always so. The first reading for me was such a relief after all the years...moreThese days I find Wizard and Glass to be sort of a mixed bag, but it wasn't always so. The first reading for me was such a relief after all the years of waiting (and rereading the three that came before). The Tower Junkie in me got its fix, the claws of the demon released their hold on me a bit and I was able to sink back into the comforting waves of a new Dark Tower book. If it had failed to meet my expectations at that time, I could have understood. The wait was so long, it gave the imagination too much time to conjure up expectations. But it didn't fail me then. It's only now, many years later, that I find myself left wanting.
Maybe Robin Furth and Jae Lee are to blame? The graphic novel adaptations of Roland's younger years are so vivid and wonderful to behold, that perhaps they've cast a weird shadow for me when it comes to Wizard and Glass (sadly I've not been able to get my hands on anything passed The Gunslinger: Born collective, but I will, someday. I set my watch and warrant on that.) I fully admit, that this time around, after reading up to the part where Roland starts to tell the tale of Susan, I switched over to The Gunslinger: Born, then went back to Wizard and Glass for the conclusion of the book. It just seemed better that way.
I guess there is really no one to blame but me. People change, and with them, so do their ideals change. I was a teenager when I first read Wizards and Glass and now I am a month short of thirty. My life has moved on, and sadly, Wizard and Glass has not moved with it.(less)
Despite my enjoyment of this book (it's easily one of the best of the series), The Waste Land holds a strange place in my heart, as it marked the firs...moreDespite my enjoyment of this book (it's easily one of the best of the series), The Waste Land holds a strange place in my heart, as it marked the first time I actively had to wait for the next part of the Dark Tower series to be released. And it also was the first time that I realized, much like Roland and his companions, that I too was a Tower Junkie. If my memory and dates serve me well, I read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three for the first time right around the time The Waste Land was being published, so I was able to get into the third book pretty quickly after reading the first two. I remember my mom passing it over to me when she was finished reading it. And then came that cliffhanger ending and I asked my mother if she had the next volume and she said no. And then we waited. And we waited. And we waited. And the claws of Tower withdrawal set themselves firmly in our skin. When it did finally come out, (what, six years later?) my mother bought two copies straight away and we raced each other to the finish line. (This would be one of the last times we'd read a book together while living under the same roof, so it holds a special place in my life for that too). The wait had been unbearable. That may seem like a brief way to sum it up, but that's the best I can do. Somethings just can't be described. And I can only praise...someone (The Man-Jesus, perhaps?) that even though we had a long wait ahead of us again when it came to the last three books of the series, at least Sai King had the decency to push them all out one after the other!
is, in my opinion, probably the most action packed and emotion fueled part of the first half of the Dark Tower series. The final book of the series certainly tops all in those categories, but The Waste Land reigns supreme for action and emotion within the first four books.
From the battle with advanced and dying technology, to Roland and Jake's slow slip into insanity from the paradox created by the death of Jack Mort to their touching reunion, tension and emotions are high. And that's just the first third or so of the book. Then Oy makes joins the group as they begin their journey towards Lud, and with that comes one of my favorite scenes in any of the Dark Tower books, the meeting with the people of River Crossing. It's at River Crossing where Susannah realizes that Roland is so much more than the gruff cowboy he looks to be on the outside, and she couldn't be more right. At River Crossing, Roland shows that there is so much more to being a Gunslinger than being able to shoot fast and accurate. Being a Gunslinger is like being an emissary of hope to the whole of the world. If the world had not moved on, this would be a much clearer thing to see.
And after the relative calm of the River Crossing meeting, things pick right back up again, with a desperate chase through Lud to find both Jake and Blaine, and they culminate with a nail biting, cliffhanger of an ending aboard that notorious pain in the ass, Blaine the Mono.
It's a hectic ride for sure, and one that makes for a fast and easy read, even though the book is of decent size. Thankfully, these days, there is no wait for the next book in the series, which I jumped straight into, my way of thumbing my nose at the forces that made us wait all those years for a conclusion to the events of The Waste Land.(less)
The Drawing of the Three is a book that varies greatly from its predecessor. The Gunslinger has a very narrow scope, like viewing something through a...moreThe Drawing of the Three is a book that varies greatly from its predecessor. The Gunslinger has a very narrow scope, like viewing something through a close-up lens, with the occasional zoom out to allow for other things (in this case, characters other than Roland) to pop in for a brief visit before they leave, never to be heard from again. The Drawing of the Three is pretty much the exact opposite. We meet a handful of characters here that will be important to the story in the long run, and we get a fair bit more information about Roland's quest, and then occasionally, we zoom in to learn little details about Eddie and Odetta/Detta/Susannah, the people who will become Roland's new traveling companions, something Roland hasn't had for many and many-a.
I've always enjoyed this book, learning about the characters that will shape Roland's future is always nice to read about, but there is one thing that has always kept me from fully enjoying The Drawing of the Three the way I enjoyed The Gunslinger and the other books that followed.
That one thing has a name, and her name is Detta Walker.
Now, I know, Detta wasn't meant to be a lovable character, but neither were other villainous characters of other books, yet I still usually find my self appreciating the character that they are. I can't do it in this case. Detta drives me absolutely looney. I can't even bring myself to 'love to hate' her. About the only thing that keeps me going when reading long stretches about her is the fact that the characters seem to sympathize with me about the horrors of putting up with her. Last I checked, the the sympathy should be flowing in the opposite direction, yeah? Its a shame too, because Susannah is a fairly good female character, but the Detta part of her lurking around inside and occasionally jumping to the surface makes me like her less then I probably should, Tower Junkie that I am.
But, clearly, this isn't too huge of an issue for me. I've read the first few DT books more times than I can remember, which just goes to show that a Tower Junkie will take the bad in stride, just so long as they get the good. And The Drawing of the Three really is good.(less)