Jack's Reviews > The Waste Lands

The Waste Lands by Stephen King
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's review
Aug 06, 2011

bookshelves: fiction-non-classic

King is undoubtedly a talented writer, however, I question his decision to embark on the project of the Dark Tower. The first book was a masterpiece in restricted exposition, as "The Gunslinger" gave promise of enormous potential of a fascinating story. As the story dragged on and more became known, it became more and more clear that King was playing it by ear, and the plot didn't flow quite as organically as such extended series should. The Waste Lands picks up after Roland is joined on his quest by Eddie Dean and Susannah, after they had been "drawn" from New York City in various eras. Roland begins to teach them the skills and ways of the gunslinger, and the reader gets to see the more human side of the previously steely and emotionally vacuous gunslinger. Upon their journal they encounter a mythical "guardian" of Roland's world in the form of a gigantic cyborg bear, and through a series of seemingly destiny or fate-driven events, they also "draw" Jake Chambers (the boy from the first book whom Roland abandoned in pursuit of the man in black) into their world and their quest. Lastly, they come upon the remains of the city of Lud, where old technology lies in decay as civilization has devolved into what resembles gang warfare. The last part of the book documents the group's (or "ka-tet," as Roland puts it) encounter with Blaine the mono, a hyper-intelligent computer remnant of the city's transportation system, which has grown insane and sadistic with centuries of age. Although King's skillful story-telling kept me engaged, the overall disjointedness of the arch of the story, and the patchwork and collage-like nature of its characters and elements of its world suggests to me that there is no organically cohesive story here. I feel like King was primarily driven by a desire for imitation of Tolkien (which to be fair he openly professes as the essential motivation for the Dark Tower), as opposed to be motivated by the impulse of a good story wanting to be told.

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