I read this book about ten years ago, but I never got around to reading the rest of the series. Why? Everyone I know who reads King loves these books,...moreI read this book about ten years ago, but I never got around to reading the rest of the series. Why? Everyone I know who reads King loves these books, and it seems to be commonly agreed upon that this is his finest work (The Dark Tower series as a whole). As a King fan myself, I felt somewhat guilty for never having read the series. So, a decade ago or so, I picked up The Gunslinger. It seemed my duty as an avid reader of King. And yet, for some reason, I just couldn't get as excited about this one as everyone else seemed to be. I'm not exactly sure why. Truth is, I don't remember much about the book. Even having reread it this month, I hardly remember anything from my earlier reading of it. Perhaps that in itself shows my overall impression of the book--enjoyable enough, but ultimately forgettable. Now I'm sure someone will give me a good talking to for saying that, but that was my take on the book after the first reading, and I can't say I've changed my mind much since then. When I started reading this book the second time (about a month ago), I was determined to stick it out and read the entire series. I was hoping that my tastes might have changed in a way that would make this book more palatable to me. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I'm not saying that it's a bad book. It isn't. It's interesting in a sense. For some reason, it just never really 'took off' for me. Maybe it was that I didn't identify with any of the characters, or that I was really just trying to get through it so I could get on with the rest of the series. Whatever it was, this one failed to absorb me the way most King novels do. The characters (what few we meet) were well-rounded, the world building was exceptional, and the story itself seemed strong enough. The failing here, I'm sure, was me. I have nothing against this book, it just didn't grab me the way I'd have liked. However, I powered through, and I hope I will find the rest of the books more to my liking, as it will be a long read if I don't. I'm still planning to read the series straight through, so I'll just hope it's more enjoyable than some of the classics I've forced myself to suffer through just for the sake of saying I've read them. (less)
I picked up this book off my sister's floor after seeing it lying around for a couple weeks. I had stopped reading Stephen King after Cell, which I re...moreI picked up this book off my sister's floor after seeing it lying around for a couple weeks. I had stopped reading Stephen King after Cell, which I read after a long break from Mr. King. When I read Cell, I thought I'd finally outgrown my love of King-style horror, so it had been several years since I'd read anything 'scary.' But I had a free copy of Salem's Lot, one of King's classics that I'd never read. Plus, I'd just finished writing my own vampire series, so I thought I'd try reading a vamp classic.
Well. Turns out I am not too old for Stephen King. This book is the first, last, and only book I can ever remember giving me shivers. The kind where I have to then go check the doors and windows before I go to sleep. I've read tons of King's books, and maybe some scared me, but I don't remember any of them creeping me out this much. This book is just plain creepy.
Parts of it were a little dull and unneccessary, like when I had to read little sections about all the townsfolk who were only in a scene or two. A couple of these little scenes were a little creepy--the guy at the dump who shoots the rats, the woman who avenges her rapist husband--but mostly, I didn't care much about those. I guess some were added to up the creepy factor, like the rats. I know SK has a thing about rats--they are in so many of his books! Mostly, though, I just wanted to get on with the story of the few survivors banding together slowly to take care of the vamps as they took care of the town of Jerusalem's Lot.
The main characters were easy to relate to, especially the kid (isn't there always the kid hero in King's books--a great way to draw sympathy and give plausibility to the monsters) and I loved the old teacher Mr. Burke, and the doctor, and even Father Callahan, although he disappeared a little too quick. Guess I'll have to find him in The Dark Tower books.
I also liked how not everyone survived, and I liked how it followed Dracula pretty closely. It could have done without a few of the character sketches, I thought, but otherwise, a fantastically creepy book!(less)
I hadn't read any Stephen King for a while, so I forgot how awesome he is. It's wonderful (and wonderfully rare) to find a writer who can maintain sus...moreI hadn't read any Stephen King for a while, so I forgot how awesome he is. It's wonderful (and wonderfully rare) to find a writer who can maintain suspense while creating such beautifully real characters. He never sacrifices character development for plot. Which is a good thing for readers like me, who can't really care what happens at all if I don't care who it's happening to. I know people who can't read King because of his descriptions and development, people who think he's too slow to get to 'the good stuff.' Personally, I wish a lot more writers would take his lead and stop shoving 'the good stuff' down our throats from the first sentence to the last. Stephen King writes whole, complete novels. They have real, fully developed characters as well as action, and if he sacrifices some fast-paced action to make the characters real, it only adds depth to the story. Too many of the fantasy and suspense novels I’ve read have pretty much nothing going for the characters. They are flat, Barbie-and-Ken cutouts from magazines, with only physical description and no development past what they look like. If that’s what you’re looking for, King isyou’re your ‘cup of tea.’ His novels rarely have sequels. He says all he needs to say in one book, and it's plenty, and the endings of his books are, well, endings. Not teases for a following book. They are final, wrapped, complete. And usually good, although I didn't really care for the ending of this one. In this book, as in many of King's novels, the hero is a child. I have come to understand King's fascination with child characters in horror novels after reading a couple of his nonfiction books. Children are more innocent, and therefore more psychically receptive than adults. They haven't quite yet internalized the impossible, and therefore, they are usually (in King's novels) the ones who figure out what's going on, and usually the ones who try to do something about it, often with the help of a receptive adult father figure. And it's a good thing the protagonist in this novel has one, because we all know what kind of man his father is. I've heard a few people say that the father is the most tragic 'victim' in this haunted house classic, but I'm not sure I agree with that. The father was never a very likeable character for me, no matter how victimized he was. Sure, he was an addict, and trying to recover. But I never really got the sense that he loved his family as much as he loved the bottle. I thought that he was not only picked off because he was the weakest link, but also because perhaps there was something inherently evil in him, something that responded to the evil in the hotel. One of my only complaints about this book was the swiftness of Jack’s transformation. It seemed like in one chapter he’s a loving (if guilty) father and husband, struggling to put his life back together. Then suddenly in the next chapter he’s fantasizing about twisting his wife’s nipples off? It seemed too sudden for this kind of evenly-paced book. I skipped back to see if I’d missed something, or if it really was almost instantaneous. I thought the suspense of him going crazy could have been drawn out a little more. I did thing that Stephen King did a great job capturing the emotions of the mother towards her son. I'm sure his wife helped him with that! I had a bit of a hard time relating to her white-bread personality, with how passive she was and how she could still love someone who had turned into a monster. But that was how she was supposed to be. Although I didn’t relate to (or even like) most of the characters in this book, it was still a superb read. Not one of King’s creepiest, although the hedge animals were pretty great. Overall, this was a good book. I like King’s classics, and if you do too, this one is it.
I've read a lot of Stephen King, and this is one of my favorites. I read it quite a while ago, maybe 2002, around the time of the Antrax scare. So whe...moreI've read a lot of Stephen King, and this is one of my favorites. I read it quite a while ago, maybe 2002, around the time of the Antrax scare. So when I read this, it was so scary to me, because I kept thinking how easily it could really happen. That made it much scarier.
Most of King's books have supernatural aspects, but I usually like the ones with few supernatural elements. The more likely the situation could happen, the scarier his books. So I really enjoyed The Stand.
I thought he did an amazing job of creating a post-apocalyptic world. The banding together of the group was gradual, as all King's novels are. He never rushes anything. He takes his sweet time building suspense, which I know bothers some people who are used to the instant gratification of the action-packed fast-paced fantasy novels out today. But I'd trade all of them for The Stand.
This book is chilling in it's possibility. The different groups all seem equally possible despite their differences. When you're reading, you have no doubt that those groups would band together if something like this ever happened. There are good people, bad people, and people who will follow along with whichever group finds them. I loved the characters, even the gross ones (and it's Stephen King, so there are some horrifying and disgusting characters and actions).
Without summarizing or giving too much away, this book is amazing, and it's one of King's best. A classic that should and probably will be read for a long, long time.
Recommended to anyone who likes well-developed books of chilling possibility. (less)
I'm not sure why I haven't read this book before now. In high school I read tons of Stephen King, but for some reason I skipped over this one. Maybe b...moreI'm not sure why I haven't read this book before now. In high school I read tons of Stephen King, but for some reason I skipped over this one. Maybe because it was thin and I liked the big thousand-plus page books he wrote. I was finally inspired to read this book because I saw the movie, liked it, and wanted to see if the book was better.
For me, it was a good read. Some of the parts got a little tedius, but overall, it was a good book. A little immature in the King realm, but that's to be expected from his first book. Some of the characters could have been better developed, IMO, and some of the exciting parts were too slow. They would have been better if the action had been speeded up some. Such as the part about Carrie after the prom, which went on and on, and I really lost interest and drifted off to sleep a few times during those parts. I did like how the book showed how alienating it can be to be an outcast, and how that made Carrie at sort of hateful person on the inside despite her religious upbringing and her usual character for most of the book. But when she had the power to get back at everyone, all the years of being picked on boiled to the surface. I thought the book did a good job of showing how brutal girls can be, even more so than boys.
This book was pretty good, but far from my favorite King book. Recommended for King fans, since this is a classic and his first book--you sort of have to read it. (less)
I found this short story in audio at my library, so I thought I'd get it even though it's short. Well, now I know why I really love King NOVELS. I kno...moreI found this short story in audio at my library, so I thought I'd get it even though it's short. Well, now I know why I really love King NOVELS. I know some people don't like the 'slow' progress of his novels, but I love development. This story was just okay to me. I'm not a fan of the interview type story that pretends to be real, either. It was an interesting read, but nothing too special. It could have been better as a novella, I think. The ending was pretty great, but the rest of it just so-so.(less)
This book (or novella?) was a major let-down to me. I love King's older stuff, and I thought I'd try to get into some of his newer stuff. This one was...moreThis book (or novella?) was a major let-down to me. I love King's older stuff, and I thought I'd try to get into some of his newer stuff. This one was short, so I thought it might ease me in.
I was wrong.
This book was just lacking...something. That magical King touch. The audio version is read by a great guy who does the New England accent of the two old men so wonderfully that it kept me going. But the story itself did not hold my interest. It was supposed to be a mystery, but it just wasn't very...mysterious. Not that I 'figured it out.' I don't think the reader is supposed to. But honestly, I just didn't care about the mystery. It did not intrigue me. I just wanted it to be over so I could mark it as read and move on. If I'd read this book instead of listened to it, I'd probably only give it one star. But I did enjoy it slightly, so I gave it two. Great audio narrator. Sub-par story.
Recommended for: Anyone who thinks Stephen King write words of gold and can do no wrong. If you have actual opinions that vary on his works, skip right over this one. He's written so many amazing stories, and this one is really not worth your time unless your goal is to read everything he's ever written. Next, please.(less)
This one is better than the other recent shorts I read (listened to) by Stephen King. This one had a great setup, was very imaginative, and had a cree...moreThis one is better than the other recent shorts I read (listened to) by Stephen King. This one had a great setup, was very imaginative, and had a creepy vibe that was missing in the last novellas I got.
I liked the premise of this book, and it got creepier and creepier as it went along. But then, near the end, it got a little too...light. I wanted a darker, scarier ending I guess. I never thought I'd say this (I may be the first to ever utter this phrase about a Stephen King work), but this was a cute little light read. Man, my mind must be twisted if I think that about a Stephen King book!
I got absorbed in this book, it was good, all that. I just thought the ending was as little bland. It might have been better as a novella or short novel, as opposed to a short story (1.5 hrs on audio).
I'd recommend this to King fans and those who have a little time to sit down and read but don't want to get sucked into a whole novel.(less)
This was one Stephen King shorts that I really enjoyed. It was nicely creepy. I also liked the younger voice. Usually King's protagonist's are older,...moreThis was one Stephen King shorts that I really enjoyed. It was nicely creepy. I also liked the younger voice. Usually King's protagonist's are older, but this college boy had a good college type voice. One thing that annoys me about older established writers deciding they want to write for a younger audience is that they usually butcher slang. But this one had hardly any slang, so that helped. It had a bit of creepiness, but it was also one of the more touching books I've read. The boy's relationship to his mother was touching and sweet. Overall, a good short read (or listen) if you want some King and only have a little bit of time.(less)
I very much enjoyed this story about a nine 'but big for her age' year-old girl who gets lost in the Maine wilderness. For the most part. So let's get...moreI very much enjoyed this story about a nine 'but big for her age' year-old girl who gets lost in the Maine wilderness. For the most part. So let's get down to it.
What I liked: The girl who loved baseball. Yep, that pretty much sums up why I loved this book. I mean, how can you not love a nine-year-old who loves baseball, in large part because she shared it with her absent-through-divorce father. And maybe I'm a little biased because I was a kid who loved basketball, and then baseball, and then football. Yep, I had favorite players, I could recount their stats. I knew who they pitched against, if they had trademark moves, etc. And for sure I could understand why and how baseball was her link to the world, how she listened to the games for solace and sanity and hope, for escape and, well, everything we love about sports as children or adults. And the girl was tough-as-nails but not unrealistically so. I didn't even mind that she cried ALL the time. I mean, not only was it realistic, but it didn't annoy me how, say, reading YA books about girls crying all the time makes me want to throw the book against the wall. No, when Trisha cried, it fit into the story and didn't make her seem like a spoiled whiny brat (sorry, I have a thing against girls who cry a lot in books). Instead of giving up and feeling sorry for herself, our plucky little heroine gets her resourceful butt up and goes on.
Which, incidentally, brings me to the next part of my review: what I didn't like so much. First of all...I may have read this wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is how it happens. Girl hiking in woods with family. Girl comes to fork in the road, goes off in the MIDDLE to pee, and gets lost. She tries to slant off to one side to catch up with her family on the trail, taking the short cut. Okay, so maybe the trail winds away somewhere and she wouldn't intersect it that way. So what does she do? She keeps walking. FOR NINE DAYS!!!!! Hello, why not just turn around? She's in the middle of a fork. When she realizes she's lost, if she'd turned around and gone back, she'd have to either run into one of the two trails or come back to the intersection. It's geographically not possible that she wouldn't. Draw a picture if you don't believe me. For such a smart, resourceful kid to not think of something so simple...I don't believe it for a minute. Not for a kid who knows what to eat in the woods better than I do, and I'm an adult who happened to grow up, that's right, IN THE WOODS! The next thing that sort of bothered me was how she got sick from drinking clear pure stream water. That's pretty much a myth. If you drink stream/river water that comes out of a farm where there's runoff from animal dung, maybe. In the middle of a pristine forest? Not so much. I'd buy it if the swamp water, or the puddle water, made her violently ill ie food poisoning, but not the clean water. And the last thing. Yeah, I know, SK points out that this was her first bad decision, to go north towards Canada instead of south when she got to almost civilization. I could see how she'd miss when she was so close. I could see how she didn't hear the town. But who goes north? Come on, she's seen maps, right? She lives in Maine, right? Can anyone name a town north of Maine besides, um, Canada? Can anyone name a town south of Maine? Yeah, that's what I thought. This girl was way too smart to make those mistakes. If she'd been an idiot, I'd buy it. But then, she wouldn't have lived.
So I guess my final word would be this: come on, Mr. King. Don't fall back on the same lame old lost-in-the-woods cliches. Your fans expect more.
Also, like most of King's almost could-happen books, I didn't need the supernatural stuff. It was hokey. There's plenty of horror in real life, plenty of scary situations for a girl lost in the woods. We really don't need wasp-gods to know it's scary. Really. I like King's supernatural books fine, but some of them, I always think, are more plausible (aka scary) without it. Those elements just ruin the spine tingling "this could REALLY happen" vibe and distract/detract from the suspense. Maybe he just adds it bc he thinks the fans like that? I know I don't need it in every book. Not. At. All.
I definitely fell in love with the character in this book, which is one of the things that Stephen King does SO well. I just didn't buy all the circumstances. But overall, it was a satisfying, if not exactly terrifying, story.
I'd recommend to younger King fans or those just getting into his work. And YA readers. And people who have gotten or would like to get lost in the woods.(less)
**spoiler alert** It's always hard for me to review Stephen King books, especially the ones I'm not crazy about. I thought I'd really like this one, t...more**spoiler alert** It's always hard for me to review Stephen King books, especially the ones I'm not crazy about. I thought I'd really like this one, too. After all, I'm a huge fan of almost all of his more realistic books. Not that time travel is realistic, but other than that, there were few supernatural elements in this novel. I liked the dance theme woven throughout the story. I liked all the characters. They were well-done (when are King's characters NOT?) and likeable, easily believable. Except for one thing--not one of the characters stopped at any point during the novel and thought, "Hey, maybe screwing around with a major historical event might not be such a bright idea." I kept wondering why these supposedly intelligent adults never questioned that. I was thinking, "Come on, Stevie, are you serious?" Finally, at the end, he did deal with that issue, making the world radically different. I just found it hard to believe that NONE of the characters questioned that. Sure, they thought about if they could really kill a man, even one portrayed as a monster such as Oswald. But none of them considered the consequences of changing history--they were all so caught up in saving Kennedy and CHANGING HISTORY! YAY! I was skeptical. Other than that, the only thing that bothered me was the 'strings' or 'threads' or whatever they were, with the alternate versions of reality. It reminded me a lot of the URs in his short story (UR). But that's just my own imagination differing from King's. I did think the new world he created after Jake prevented the assassination was very interesting and thought provoking. So, overall, this book was okay. It was enjoyable, but for me, it just doesn't have that 'something special' that makes some of King's books so magical. This one was just a good read that could have been written by anyone. For me, it didn't have the signature kiss of King on it.(less)