Overall, this seems like a nod to Frankenstein: Be careful of the forces you tangle with. The dedication page lists Mary Shelley as one of the writersOverall, this seems like a nod to Frankenstein: Be careful of the forces you tangle with. The dedication page lists Mary Shelley as one of the writers who 'built his [King's] house.' Frankenstein being one of my favoritest books, there's a lot to enjoy here.
The bulk of this book is Jamie Morton Growing Up. It begins with Jamie at six years old, playing soldier. It ends 55 years later, when Jamie is 61. So, just keep in mind there's a lot of growing up to do in fifty years. Annnnd some of the growing Jamie doesn't effectively do.
All in all, there are interesting bits and less interesting bits. But what keeps this at three stars for me is that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot driving the story.
The whole mess between Pastor Charles Jacobs, the Frankenstein of this particular story, and our hero, Jamie, begins when Jacobs loses his wife and child in a tragic accident. Jacobs freaks out, tells his congregation God doesn't exist, and then heads out into the world cursing God.
While this is an understandable reaction, and a great premise for a horror novel, I had a hard time buying into it for a very simple reason: I, as the reader, didn't love or care about Jacobs' wife or child. Patricia Jacobs is blonde and perfect and can play the piano really well. The narrator says that all the little boys had a crush on her -- but there's no real, actionable evidence of that in the text. No one offers to stay after to help her clean up the church, or is caught spying on her through keyholes. Ditto the little girls crushing on the pastor himself. But all I really get is blonde, perfect, piano player, dead.
I also didn't fall in love with the little toddler -- who was cute but could be just about any toddler.
It may sound cold, but if the death of these two people is the fuel driving the story it leaves me a little, well, cold.
(An aside -- at one point the narrator, Jamie, explains that the pastor has blue eyes and his wife has green eyes but the little boy has brown eyes...I'm not a geneticist, but I kept expecting Patricia Jacobs to turn out to be a cheating, drinking whore, who had the little boy with another man. That would've been a twist on the pastor's twisted twistedness. Strangely enough, I might've liked Mrs. Jacobs better.) ...more
The author of this novel is obviously an intelligent dude. While some readers may find medicalese a difficult language to navigate, I thought it madeThe author of this novel is obviously an intelligent dude. While some readers may find medicalese a difficult language to navigate, I thought it made this thriller waaaay more thrilling than it would've been otherwise. When our main character, Chief Resident Steve Mitchell, is up to his elbows in tumors and delicate procedures, it's hard to look away. You feel every placement of Steve's instruments in this story and Parsons does a pretty good job of explaining all of the procedures and the stakes involved.
And if Doing Harm was just about Mitchell dealing with those things, this would be an awesome story. Alas...he went and added more 'plot' in the form of a questionable cat-and-mouse game between Mitchell and a bad guy whom I shall not name here.
Without giving too many massive spoilers away -- the problem with this story is that the villain is not believable. All I'm going to say is that you cannot just label someone a 'psychopath' and expect readers to just go along. Basically it boils down to this: the baddy thinks Mitchell is a really smart guy and wants to challenge him to a game of life-or-death for the hell of it. Umm...no. There needs to be motivation from both the protagonist and the antagonist. Unfortunately, the first half of this book was leading to a five star review and then I found out who the antagonist was and the reasoning behind these evil medical murders. It was kinda disappointing. ...more
Sometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girlsSometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girls, is being considered for release from the jail where prisoners who try to escape are shot by civic-minded residents of the surrounding town. But releases are not granted easily.
This is a very dark vision of a penal community -- which, strangely enough, is not hard to imagine happening. The play raises great questions about the limits of power, the consequences of actions, and crime and punishment in general.
Lee Blessing has a great talent for dark material. I saw Two Rooms when I was sixteen and I still remember going "Whoa!" This has a similar Whoa factor. ...more
First, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and tFirst, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and then seems to drop off the face of the earth. Then we jump a year later and meet retired Detective Kermit William Hodges, a.k.a. Bill, who was the lead investigator on the case. Bill is depressed and considering suicide when the Mercedes Killer sends him a letter telling him to go ahead and off himself, unwittingly giving Bill a reason to live: namely, to hunt down the bastard who ran through a mass of people with a stolen Mercedes.
For those who may be looking for a horror fix...this isn't it. (Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.) Mr. Mercedes has more in common with Sue Grafton and J.K. Rowling's alter-ego Robert Galbraith than it does with The Shining or It. As a reader, I don't mind that at all. The bad guy is definitely bad and the good guy has enough questionable motives to make it a quick, interesting read.
There are definitely some plot holes and leaps of faith that the reader has to make, but if you read it quick enough (like I did) you won't think about the problems long enough to truly distract you.
My biggest issue (not counting plot holes and leaps of faith) with the novel related to a more basic issue -- it felt like the beginning of a series. I felt only marginally introduced to the main character (strange, right?) and his former partners. I was only gonna give this book two stars...then, lo, I arrive at Goodreads and find this is the first part of a trilogy? I have rounded my star rating up in hopes that the next couple novels will fix the distance-y issues I was experiencing.
An example of a 'distance-y' issue (a term I have coined my own self): The sidekicks. Jerome and Holly. First off, the sidekicks don't come into the story in any measurable way until almost the end, which was a bummer because they were great foils for Hodges that were massively under-utilized -- they could have presented the arguments and counter-arguments to Hodges thought process...rather than the reader going "What the hell, dude?" And considering the pivotal roles they play, it's kinda disappointing to not spend more time with them.
But, I mean, dudes, it's still King. Plenty of attitude and spark through the pages to keep 'em turning. I especially love the emails between hero and villain. Snarky. Good times. ...more
My guess is that "Gentlemen" is Shakespearean code for "Buttheads." Because The Two Buttheads of Verona fits the story much better.
And the story is tMy guess is that "Gentlemen" is Shakespearean code for "Buttheads." Because The Two Buttheads of Verona fits the story much better.
And the story is this: two friends, Proteus and Valentine, are bros for life. Proteus is in love with Julia and refuses to go out into the world to make his fortune until his daddy makes him. Off Proteus goes to join Valentine, who in the meantime has fallen for Silvia.
Unfortunately for Julia, Proteus decides that Silvia is pretty hot.
Therefore he decides to throw over both his best bud and his fiancee. He betrays their elopement plan to Silvia's Duke of a father and gets Valentine exiled, Silvia stuck, and Julia (who has decided to dress up like a page in order to get near her wayward fiance) in the cold.
Proteus is a jerk. Even his servant, Lance says "I think my master is something of a knave." No sh*t.
Did I mention the classic Shakespeare speech on "No doesn't really mean no"? You'll find it here!
(view spoiler)[Anyhoo -- Valentine and Proteus make up and become bros again. Valentine even offers to let Silvia marry Proteus. But Proteus apparently grows some kind of heart in the quickest monologue Shakespeare's ever written and that paragon of manhood decides that Julia -- even dressed as a boy -- is a-okay by him. Valentine gets to 'keep' Silvia and Julia -- that lucky duck -- gets to be with Proteus. Happy Ending All Around! (hide spoiler)]
The only reason I'm giving this two stars and not flushing it down some sewer bank is because you can see the bits that lead to some of his better, more well-rounded, works later on. And because one of the monologues was used in Shakespeare in Love. ...more
3.5 Stars -- Throughout I kept thinking 'this book is a whole lot of okay.' I wasn't blown away, but neither did I feel an overwhelming urge to put it3.5 Stars -- Throughout I kept thinking 'this book is a whole lot of okay.' I wasn't blown away, but neither did I feel an overwhelming urge to put it down.
There are some great characters here: particularly David, the boy whose prayers are answered and Johnny, the egotisticial-but-somehow-likeable National Book Award Winner. Then King throws them into some incredibly difficult, dangerous, gross, and ethical dilemmas.
The menagerie of Southwestern critter-monsters are the kind that creep you out or freak you out in real life. Venomous spiders come in droves. Rattlesnakes. Packs of coyotes. Mountain lions and wolves. These are things you never want to see in your house, let alone wandering around with a kind of conscienceness.
I think mostly what made it kinda 'meh' was the bad guy. While it is big and monstrous and in control of an army of creatures I do not want to meet on the street, I was perhaps a little to fuzzy on the motivation and it seemed like it disappeared somewhere near the climax of the book...which is strange.
In all, it left me interested enough to check out Regulators. So we'll see! ...more
One night, while driving and receiving a hand-job from his wife, Billy Halleck runs over the wrong gypsy woman. In the ensuing trial, he is let off byOne night, while driving and receiving a hand-job from his wife, Billy Halleck runs over the wrong gypsy woman. In the ensuing trial, he is let off by his good friends: the judge and sheriff. However, he doesn't get off so light when the gypsy woman's father decides to get some vigilante justice of his own. Taduz Lemke stretches out a long finger and says one word. "Thinner." And Halleck's beer gut slowly melts away until all that's left is a ribcage and anger.
While the story itself is horrifyingly entertaining, I was struck more by the language King/Bachman uses early in the book. It's hard to miss the addictive quality of Halleck's eating habits. He orders Whoppers and Big Macs, eats the in the car to hide his habit from his significant others. Sometimes he catches himself and is disgusted and swears to stop:
He threw the remains of the second Whopper out the window and then looked at the mixed slime of juices and sauce on his hand with a desperate kind of horror. And then he did the only sane thing possible under the circumstances: he laughed. And promised himself: No more. The binge would end.
Unfortunately for Halleck, the only way his binge ends is with a gyspy curse.
The curse takes his habits in a different direction, but somehow it still feels allegorical to addiction in general. You try to deny it to yourself. You try to control it. You try to hide it from your family. Eventually, your family notices and tries to intervene -- a lot of time too late. The addiction overtakes your health. And eventually you succumb.
Halleck fights like hell to fix the curse that's been laid on him, but I have to say it's really hard to get behind the guy. He's kind of a punk. At a couple points it seems like he might genuinely come to realize that he was in the wrong, that his mistake cost a woman her life, and that he might, just might, legitimately be sorry. That moment, however, never comes.
He's very much the criminal who is sorry because he got caught, not because he's sorry he did what he did.
The good news is (story-wise) the curse is pretty darn horrific. Most of us wouldn't wish this shit on our worst enemies, so you can kinda see where the guy might get more pissed off than apologetic. So, Halleck doesn't come off as horrible as he could otherwise.
Basically, everyone is a jerk. And it's fun to watch the jerks beat up on each other.
What I find amazing is that the Stephen King who wrote The Gunslinger is obviously so much younger and more inNot gonna write a whole BIG review, but!
What I find amazing is that the Stephen King who wrote The Gunslinger is obviously so much younger and more inexperienced than the Stephen King who wrote . All of my frustration and irritation at Gunslinger was fixed -- completely fixed -- by the end of the prologue of this book. Perfect, badass Roland is given a very believable disability early on and that single incident drives the rest of the book. This set-up is very different than the whole man who could shoot up towns without blinking an eye. It made Roland more likable and the stakes much more dangerous. Shows King as a much more mature writer. Just to see the difference between book one and book two is a reading experience.
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils dWell.
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils down to a weird father/daughter dynamic. Repeatedly it's stated that Edmund had so much to do with 'forming Fanny's opinions.' I can run with that. Times were different, after all.
But! the fact that most of those 'opinions' revolve around passing judgment on others' lack of judgment or moral turpitude makes for a preachy read -- especially with Edmund becoming, basically, a preacher. Unfortunately, all of the charm and wit in this Austen novel go to the 'bad guys.' I found myself cheering more heavily for Miss Mary Crawford and her wayward brother than for the two main characters.
I don't really have much to say other than that...and it's probably damning enough to say that a novel which revolves around a relationship doesn't present a fascinating relationship. So I won't say anymore.
It gets a star for being written by Austen (therefore it has never been out of print) and a star for the lovely description of English countryside customs and manners (and manor houses) even though everyone who lived in this particular English countryside was a judgmental punk. Other than that, I have to say I did not love this one. ...more
Martin is a successful man, with a loving wife and a slightly troubled son. However, during an interview conducted by his best friend, Ross, Martin coMartin is a successful man, with a loving wife and a slightly troubled son. However, during an interview conducted by his best friend, Ross, Martin confesses a secret: He's in love with a goat. And he's also having sex with said goat.
(And with eyes like that, who can blame him?)
Ross, instead of being the understanding friend Martin understood him to be, goes directly to Stevie -- Martin's wife -- and turns him in. What follows is a passionate debate about love, sex, and what is-and-is-not appropriate.
At times Albee's play is hilarious. Because. Really. Sex with a goat. I don't care who you are, that's pretty darned funny. Martin's explanation of his position (or positions as the case may be) is strangely proper, which adds a sense of the absurd to the already absurd situation. Stevie's sarcasm is understandably both wry and tragic at the same time:
Stevie: The fucking of animals! No, that's one thing you haven't thought about, one thing you've overlooked as a byway on the road of life, as the old soap has it. "Well, I wonder when he'll start cruising livestock. I must ask Mother whether Dad did it and how she handled it."
However, aside from the strange situation, the play explores some deep questions. Who are we allowed to love? How are we allowed to express love? What do we really understand about any of it? There's real pain and a real life hanging in the balance, which makes for some serious drama.