Landon's Reviews > Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
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's review
Oct 08, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: horror

Stephen King
Published 2001

I am a firm believer in the fact that Stephen King has written his way into being more than just a writer. A book with his name on it gets instant success and instant marketing power. I bought Dreamcatcher in a day of simple boredom, needed to be filled with a story that King’s reputation would seem to bring me. While it seems that King was able to put together this story with the right ingredients, the problem may be the fact that King has already dished out these ingredients, and I’ve already enjoyed them.

Dreamcatcher: Needs Better Storycatching

The premise for this novel is simple, there are four best friends who have grown up and become very different men. They come together annually for a hunting trip where they drink, hunt, and catch up on each other’s lives. However, while driving, a couple of our characters come across a man, half frozen in the street, so they do what every person would do: invite him over to their home. However, the man asks to excuse himself, and while passing what he thought was going to be a bowel movement, instead he releases an alien “sh*t weasel” who kills not only the man, but now is released for the friends to deal with.

So here we are in the middle of the snowy forest being forced into an alien invasion situation, clearly not vintage King. So are we going to be swept into a horror, flesh eating alien invasion that will give us problems sleeping and scare us from our hunting trip? Probably not, unless your stomach is giving you problems and you become scared of using the restroom for fear of producing a “sh*t weasel.” I apologize for maybe coming off as cynical, but if this is the main horror element of a novel, maybe you are in need of a rewrite.

Characters: We Have Been Here Before

So our story revolves around 4 main protagonists, all of whom share a common past in which the four of their lives where changed for the rest of their life. In other words, this is The Losers Club II, if you’ve read King’s book It. The four characters where able to stop bullies from bullying a innocent boy named Duddits, who has down syndrome, and Duddits rewards them by granting them a telekinetic connection between them.

So we have a large group of main characters (It) along with a loner child with special powers (Carrie) who are all connected in order to stop this alien invasion, who is lead by two antagonists, General Kurtz (who takes a liking from Apocalypse Now), and Mr. Bob Gray (It). Really it just seems like King was busy reading his own material when formulating the ideas for characters in this novel.

I’m going to be completely honest when I say that the characters are probably one of the most underwhelming I’ve come across in King’s literature. This is a glaring defect considering his character development is one the driving forces behind the fact that I enjoy his books so much. This is one of the first novels I can think of where the characters are so flawed that it takes away from the plot itself.

Plot: Unusual Territory

Perhaps the reason for the recycled characters would be the fact that King is trying to somewhat go into a Science Fiction realm, which would be away from his fantasy series (The Dark Tower) and his plain horror books (Pet Sematary, It). In comparison to other science fiction tales, there is nothing that makes this one stand out. Its as if he was watching X-Files and suddenly the idea came to him. However, this isn’t to say that King can’t salvage a little fun out of this.

Our protagonists have gone their separate ways in life, and soon they do in the story as well. In fact, our core of 4 will be shaved down two by the time we get to the climax. However, it is the connection to the past with Duddits that makes our characters interesting at all, and King brings back his most effective literary technique for the explanation of this connection: flashback. We learn about the actual act that took place to help save Duddits, and then the eventual connection that was created between the 5 of them.

In current time, our characters are on two missions: To help stop the alien force that came from their toilet and eventually inherits one of the main characters himself, and also to help save Duddits who is suffering from not only down syndrome, but also Leukemia.

There are a few thrills to be found in these pages, and perhaps it is the fact that I happen to be reading this novel in the winter of the forest ridden Minnesota, but there are some eerie parts, though not the same extent that can be found in other King’s works. However, something clearly is not right. I was not taken aback like I am from a literary achievement, and I was not put into deep thought as I am in a overwhelming story. In fact, I was underwhelmed and dully unsatisfied by a very drawn out climax that finishes this novel.

Recommended For:

Sometimes you simply cannot pass up a Stephen King novel, and this would be the only way I recommend this book to anyone. I cannot say that afterwards I took pride in having read it, nor can I say that Stephen King will be remembered for what he wrote in Dreamcatcher. Perhaps the fact that King seems to be above other authors also creates a bar that is too high for him to exceed anymore.

That isn’t to say this is a horrible book, it just stands as a midget next to the King masterpieces. There aren’t many slow parts, but the book is well over 600 pages, which makes for quite a bit of time dedicated to a book that I can’t say is anything to put on a favorite listing.
I give it two stars out of five, and if you read it, you may consider that a little low, but I simply cannot raise the grade for something that is almost like recycled bits to help make up an experimental plot. I’m still crossing my fingers that King can start producing classics again, but this simply isn’t one of them.

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