Brenna's Reviews > Riding the Bullet

Riding the Bullet by Stephen King
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May 27, 2010

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One of Stephen King's notably shorter single works (more of a novella than anything else), Riding the Bullet provides the same manner of psychological torment as found in many of his short stories (such as in a handful of the latter tales within Hearts in Atlantis , for instance, or The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon).

That is to say, the creeps and chills are of a less visceral sort. This serves not only to make the book more accessible to the more squeamish amongst us, but to - in a sense - turn off the more hardcore horror-seekers.

Alan Parker, 19 years of age, receives the phone call he could not have foreseen - his mother, that single source of adult love in his young life, has had a stroke. Nothing too serious, he is told by his New England neighbour, but enough to warrant a phone call to Alan - and enough to put his mother into the hospital. And so, Alan is in an elevated state of concern as he hitchhikes his way some one hundred and ten miles to the Lewiston, Maine hospital from his campus in Orono.

To reveal more of the plot would be to detract from the book's atmosphere. As the story is told from Alan's point of view, the prose is less florid than if it were narated by some omniscient voice, or even a more matured mind (although Alan himself is studying Philosophy - a minor trait which makes itself apparent in his observations and pattern of speech), making the story flow freely.

Whats more, a careful reading of the text explains more to the reader - or at the very least, insinuates itself into a manner of logic, as to what actually transpired that night on Route 68, since Alan himself seems to remain somewhat hazy himself...
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message 1: by Luciana (last edited Dec 06, 2015 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Luciana When I commenced reading the book, I was expecting to read a bunch of psychologically-traumatizing events after experiencing what happened in The Shining. When I finished the book, I felt confused, puzzled and intrigued because a lot of things had not been so clear; the deep meaning of Alan's decision, the ghost's true purpose and intentions, the symbolism of the rollercoaster and its influence...I wanted everything to be answered for me. After analyzing everything meticulously, I finally understood that something King is trying to convey is that our decisions can change everything so drastically and can affect those around us in a positive or negative way based on what we morally choose. Everything can occur so rapidly in the blink of an eye and that is when we realize we cannot do anything to manipulate the outcome of what we chose to do.


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