Christopher Jones's Reviews > Lisey's Story
by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)
This review is actually a re-edit based on my re-read. I read the book a couple years ago, remembered HATING it, and I gave it a one star earlier this year. But I recently re-read it. I'm not sure why. I think it's because I called Scott a jerk in the King forums and when people disagreed with me, I wanted to re-read to see if it would get better.
And it has. Partly, it's because I know what to expect, which makes it almost impossible for the book to mislead, and BOY does this book mislead.
First, there's the matter of the title, "Lisey's Story". Long story short, the book isn't about Lisey or her family or their history(though three of her sisters have minor roles in the book). The book is about Scott Landon's (Lisey's husband) family and history. It's about his mystical trips to Boo'ya Moon and his love for his insane brother and father. Had the book been "Scott's Story" we'd be one step closer to not setting people up for disappointment.
The "Part" breaks are also misleading. The first, "Bool Hunt", doesn't have Lisey hunting around for much of anything, let alone bools. Rather, she begins the process of remembering what she had suppressed about their marriage. Except there's no reason for any of this to be suppressed. Traumatic incidents are experienced but this isn't like IT, where a supernatural force is responsible for the forgetting. There's no head injury or supernatural force, or any reason at all that Lisey has to remember all these events over again. This is a grown woman after all, who had long come to terms with Scott's just-around-the-corner insanity according flashbacks. The amnesia here just seems like a tacked on plot device.
It's in "Bool Hunt" that we are introduced to two other plot threads. The first concerns a madman named Zack McCool. If Lisey doesn't give Scott's remaining work to Zack's friend, he's going to hurt her. Badly. The other thread concerns Lisey's Sister Amanda. She's crazy, but not as crazy as the people in Scott's family.
All this happens in 130 some pages hardcover. Lisey walks around remembering (arguing with herself about the pros and cons of it), getting a few calls about Amanda, and one from Zack. All this is garnished with a lot of personal jargon (along with remarking where Lisey heard it from, each time, as though anyone cares). It's appallingly slow and boring, save for the hinting of a creature called "the long boy". This first fifth of the book will spell doom for God knows how many newcoming King readers. If it wasn't for King's mostly casual way of talking, no hardcore fans would want to read it either.
Part two is "SIOWISA". That stands for "Strap It On When It Seems Appropriate". This is essentially the meat of the book. The Bool Hunt really starts here, though the clues and the manner in which they are presented is bad (we don't know what "mein gott" is for until we get the long tangent about the couples brief stint in Germany). Zack McCool gets aggressive here. We learn about Scott's family here; what happens to his brother is extremely heartbreaking and you can feel the dark suffocating box begin to close around his childhood. Lisey travels to Boo'ya Moon, not two, not three, but FOUR times here. Lisey's sister Amanda agrees to help her take care of Zack but ends up doing almost nothing. The climax of the book happens here, and being King it's a doozy. The long boy creature is revealed here.
This part of the book is good. Hell it's, great. But it doesn't make up for the initial 130+ pages of fail.
Part three is "Lisey's Story". It's every bit as deceiving as the overall title. "Lisey's Story" is a notebook that Scott left about himself for Lisey. It's just a conclusion of his childhood story. Pretty lame.
So that's the book ladies and gentlemen. I liken it to Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes eating his mother's cooking. After taking a few bites and suppressing a few gags, he realizes he can stomach it after all.