Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > Cujo

Cujo by Stephen King
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did not like it
bookshelves: horror
Read 2 times


I thought about just leaving that one word as my review. Or maybe adding "'nuff said" as they used to say in Marvel Comics when I was "younger". I thought maybe though you'd like more.

I hate it. This is one of those books I can't say enough about...enough bad that is. You like being depressed? You like looking for the worst? Your real life doesn't have enough CRAP happening in it so you want to add more??? Well, then you've found it. If you are the kind of person who says that novels should reflect all the pain of real life and more...then this may be the book for you.

Some great books concern pain, some wonderful novels require pain to be what they are...this one revels in pain and suffering and like de Sade seems to enjoy pain for pain's sake.

There are 2 of Mr. King's books that left me not frightened or terrorized or even "grossed out" but depressed. This is one of them...

Did I make it clear, I hate this book???

7/26/18: I reviewed this some time back. Thought I'd stop back by and add a quote accredited to Dorthy Parker That sums up my feelings on it:

"This Is Not a Novel To Be Tossed Aside Lightly. It Should Be Thrown with Great Force"
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
Finished Reading
October 23, 2009 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
November 10, 2009 – Shelved
December 24, 2010 – Shelved as: horror (Other Paperback Edition)
February 27, 2011 – Shelved as: horror

Comments Showing 1-50 of 57 (57 new)

Deniz I expect criticism should be about writing, characters etc not because "it reflects the life to the grimmiest point" and this kind of reaction by a reader shows how powerful fiction King writes. Should I dis Carl Hiassen because life is not full of laughs and funny things contrary to his stories?

message 2: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Aug 14, 2010 09:33AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) You can review any book anyway you please...as I do. When I review a book I am telling people how it effected me and how I liked or disliked it. There are books that are tragic that I like/liked, but books that play the "pain for pain's sake" card or from the "life is crap and then you die" effect (something I've seen in King fairly often) leave me cold. I get that you like it, that this book resonates with you...with me it's just an emotional ride I don't need.

Sometimes a book can be written well, but not be that "good a book" as they say.

I've stated elsewhere that I will review books as they strike me, and as I think and feel about them. I detest this book....you like it. That's fine. Those who read my review will see what I think those who read yours can see what you think.

So, as far as I'm concerned this book was a waste of my time. The use of emotions to push certain buttons. Not for me, and maybe not for others. I've seen a lot of books I love rated low here by people who dislike them. I don't always understand why and sometimes I ask, or even (as you have done) disagree. But that doesn't often change the other person's opinion.

So, enjoy the book. I didn't, for me it's time out of my life I won't get back.

message 3: by Deniz (last edited Aug 15, 2010 01:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Deniz First thing: I am not trying to change your opinion, I just think that the way you reviewed it is misleading.

Well, I think I misunderstood the concept of this site. I am a new transfer from Amazon.com if you know what I mean. There readers' reviews are great pieces to treasure. Except for fanatical ones, reviewers have great insight to the dynamics of a book with its ups and downs, why it does not work and why it works. Unless a book is an automatic buy for me, I first go straight ahead to those reviews and read the opinions, and base my decision. More or less they hit the truth eighty percent.

Here it is more like people gossiping over a cup of tea and telling very superficial impressions about a book they have read.

For instance from a review for Pet Sematary: "The writing is wonderful, characters jump off the page...I was sleepless and I practically followed Louis up to that terrible place in bodily form. BUT I gave this book one star because WHY STEPHEN OH WHY DO YOU KILL CHILDREN AND CATS?" (capital letters are from the review)

Now this is actually a ridiculous review. Another one (for Salem's Lot): "This book scared the crap out of me; I am rather a chicken when it comes to scary books and that's why I rated it one star"

Isn't this wonderfully dumb?

message 4: by Deniz (last edited Aug 15, 2010 01:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Deniz Let me clear my point further (if you are still interested:): I love DOGS. I love the good triumphs over evil. I like people join and live together happly. All these ingredients are profusely found in Dean Koontz's books (another writer who tackles more or less the same themes like King).

But...those characters are so shallow, the dialogue is so trite (check Life Expectancy where two people waiting to die one or two hours later banter silly jokes) and that flowery writing is so flowery and full of synonyms dug out of Webster's Thesaurus I really feel GAGGED when I am reading them and that's probably why Koontz lacks the universal appeal of King though God knows he has been trying to get rid of that fine lable, "Poor Man's Stephen King", for decades (I am expecting him to write a Bible of his own nowadays so that all that recent preaching by him wouldn't be wasted LOL)

Now according to this site a review should be something like that: "The writing is very poor, characters are very silly and cartonish but man DK puts a loveable dog, and in the end the good men win over evil men and my God the hero and the heroine get married, it is very uplifting, it is the Polyanna book of the new century and therefore THIS IS A FIVE STAR BOOK"

How credible would be this? In Amazon, this kind of reiews would get hundreds of "not helpful" vote, not to mention, the fact that the reviewer would be scorned harshly. Too bad there is no "not like" button here.

I think Good Reads is a socializing place rather than a site for decent and illuminating handling of books so it may not be a good place for me.

Thank you for spending your time to answer me.

message 5: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Aug 15, 2010 12:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) As I said it's very much "to each" I must disagree with you in that (however you may simply be referring to Koontz here) a book must somehow wallow in emotional angst to be good or deep. Not all books have depth because they spout misery. My objection to "this book" is that it does one thing well, it pushes negative emotional buttons, but (at least for me) gives nothing in return.

As I pointed out before, we won't always share an opinion or a taste in books, but there will always be someone who does share your taste in books. I glanced at your profile and noted that you found several glowing reviews of this book you could agree with.

I am not over all a King fan. Probably my favorite book by him is Danse Macabre an earlier semi-auto biographical work on the things that have influenced him and his views on writing and life.

As a rule you'll find that I "rate low" any book that leans toward the nihilistic. Books are usually looked at (at least) 2 ways, subjectively and objectively. The obvious as in storyline, plot, characters; any open or lightly buried philosophical bent of the author, religious or political thought are going to be noted objectively. Then there is the way the book effects each of us, what we think and indeed what we feel from a given book, these will be subjective. It can be disconcerting when someone dislikes or seems to hate a work that moved you. It can as bad or worse if they are indifferent to it. I feel the same way at times...

Here I disagree with you both on the book in question and (at least what I perceive to be) your view on what I suppose might be termed as "sad and happy ending books" in general. I am not totally adverse to angst in a book (though I've had plenty enough in my life without filling my leisure time with it), I do have trouble with a book that attempts to push negative emotional buttons simply for effect or to support a belief/philosophy I do not hold, to-wit: (As I stated before) "Life is crap and then you die". In other words, a world view leaning heavenly toward or even centered on nihilism.

So...please enjoy Goodreads, I'm sure you'll find many here who you will agree with and who will share your views, as there will be many who do not.

So, again, I stand by my review, and it doesn't mean I didn't get the book, or I didn't understand the book, it simply means I didn't like the book. Others, as for example, you do like it.

message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Well said, Mike!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Werner wrote: "Well said, Mike!"

I agree!

message 8: by Brian (last edited Aug 19, 2010 02:54PM) (new)

Brian It appears to me that Stephen King is a streaky writer. Some great books and horrible ones mixed in. Especially, the last ten years. During that span I have not read one book that resembles some of his earlier brilliance. He sells books by reputation alone these days with little content worth mentioning. How would you compare the book to the movie? Assuming you watched it.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree as I enjoyed his early books. One of the first I read was loaned to me at work: Salem's Lot. But the last one I read which was a paperback I picked up Just After Sunset was horrible! He doesn't care anymore.
I won't watch or read Cujo. I have given up on Stephen King. There are too many good books I haven't read yet. I was very sorry I bought Just After Sunset.

message 10: by Brian (last edited Aug 19, 2010 04:28PM) (new)

Brian Thanks Alice! There was a time when I highly anticipated reading a new novel by him. "Salem's Lot", "The Dead Zone", "The Stand", to name a few. After reading "Bag Of Bones", "The Cell", "Nightmares and Dreamscapes", I have come to the conclusion that Stephen King should have retired years ago and any future novels would tarnish his former brilliance. He still has original ideas but leaves a reader with more questions than answers.

message 11: by Brian (new)

Brian Great review Mike and I agree with the points you make. One star sounds about right. I did not think a review could ever be done with one word. Kudos! You proved that notion wrong. "Gag" would constitute a review for this novel.

message 12: by Brian (new)

Brian I have read a number of your reviews and enjoy the dialogue whether it is positive or negative. You always articulate the reasons very well. I find reviewing some novels a daunting task. With each review I believe I am able to elaborate my thoughts much better. At least I hope so.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Brian, I have given up attempting to review for the most part as its just beyond me. But I love the neverending quiz.


message 14: by Brian (last edited Aug 20, 2010 04:08PM) (new)

Brian Hi Alice; Do not be so hard on yourself! I just reread my first review I posted about six months ago and it was not well written to be honest. Now my reviews are written with these four basic questions in mind. 1)was the author great at story telling 2)Were the characters well developed, protagonist or antagonist 3) Was the plot or subplots intriguing, interesting, jaw dropping or a horrible mess. 4) did the author inject too much of their beliefs into a novel to it's detriment. All novelists leaves their imprints of beliefs in their novels but overkill can ruin a very good book. Try the formula. That approached has helped me very much.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Brian wrote: "Hi Alice; Do not be so hard on yourself! I just reread my first review I posted about six months ago and it was not well written to be honest. Now my reviews are written with these four basic quest..."

Thanks for the tips but it sounds too much like an assignment in college! There is a line here somewhere where reading is FUN and then if I am not careful it becomes WORK! I am not getting paid to be on goodreads. I am only here for fun. I crossed that line a few months back and thought about deleting my account again. I am just here for FUN! (I hope)

message 16: by Brian (new)

Brian Well that is great to. I enjoy goodreads immensely and always enjoy learning about new and exciting authors. There are so many threads to accommodate anyone's taste in literature. It is fun to be interactive with goodreads authors and readers!

message 17: by Brian (new)

Brian 91%? Wow I did not think anyone on goodreads is as close to literary interests as mine. I understand totally about school and stress. I was twice an honour student yet was unmercifully bullied for being a "teacher's pet". I never fit into any niches and thus became an outcast. I quit at the beginning of Grade 12. That's okay though, many others suffered the same fate as me. At least what was taught was not as mandated as today. I was introduced to several great authors. Today in Ontario, classic literature is not deemed necessary, art too. I am happy I am not in school now. I spend little time with the never ending book quiz, however with such similar interests in books there is plenty to talk about.

message 18: by Werner (new)

Werner Brian and Alice, a caveat on Goodreads' percentage ratings for similarity of literary interests: they just aren't very reliable. They're electronically generated by a wooden mathematical comparison of your ratings (if any) for titles that you both list, with no allowance for why you rate things in particular ways, and can be distorted by such things as small size of the sample pool, the fact that differences of one star have different significance depending on what end of the scale they're on, etc. I've gotten to the place where I don't take them very seriously! You can get a much better feel for comparison of your tastes with someone else's by browsing his/her shelves, ratings and reviews, list of favorite authors, interests, etc. and looking for patterns.

Brian, my high school experience was quite similar to yours! I quit too for a few weeks in my freshman year, but was pressured into coming back, and did graduate. If I'd known then that there was such a thing as a G.E.D., I think I'd have gone that route!

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Brian wrote: "91%? Wow I did not think anyone on goodreads is as close to literary interests as mine. I understand totally about school and stress. I was twice an honour student yet was unmercifully bullied for ..."

Just found this. Even tho as Werner says they are not accurate I still find it fun to do them. It gives me a vague idea of what the other person reads.
I wanted to quit and missed much school (which I always did due to asthma and chronic bronchitis) but kept limping along. My GPA was good enough to get me into college which I much preferred. I liked arranging my own classes to my convenience. I only got art in one school in Amarillo as later it was not offered anywhere. As an Air Force brat moving constantly. I was thrown out of PE at that school as the PE teacher did not tolerate asthmatics. It was GREAT! I had more study time and so got the Science Award. Too bad there weren't more PE teachers like that one. What a meany.
School is ridiculous. Leo Buscalgia (MSP) wrote some very good stuff about it...we all become well-rounded totally missing whatever our gift might me.
Sorry for all the NE quiz questions! OOPS!

Eddie Novak First King for me. I heard he was stoned and/or drunk the entire time he wrote this one, if that helps. lol I can't say anything good about it all these years later.

message 21: by Marina (new)

Marina Fontaine The purpose of a good "reader" review, which is what our reviews on GR and Amazon are, is first and foremost to connect fellow readers to the "right" books for them. There are plenty of opportunities to get literary criticism of a book, esp. when it comes to traditionally published writers. To get to the fundamental core of the book, to tell us its sense of life, so to speak, the way Mike tends to do in his reviews- that's rare, and sorely needed. Thanks Mike, and don't ever stop.

Jeffrey I liked Cujo a lot. If you think about it from the perspective of truly scary books, King was moving from scaring people with outside possession Salem's Lot, The Stand, to things that we feel at home with, but cannot forget are scary.

Nor was this a book that was written later in King's career. Cujo was published in 1982, a scant 7 years after Carrie, and only 5 years after The Stand.

Cujo was published in the period in which King wrote Christine, a greatly atmostpheric book about a killer car.

The fact here is Mike really doesn't like animal stories - see his reviews Where the Red Fern Grows etc. He is another animal story about a monster dog. Its not surprising at all that he does not like it, or shoots from the hip in his review.

Mike (the Paladin) Check my review of Julius Winsome.

Here I have given a thumbs down review about a book you like. People here have dissed books I love, it happens, it's a matter of taste. You want to dismiss my review, that's your right but I review for perspective readers.

(view spoiler)

Jeffrey I am not dismissing your review, just putting it in context with some of your other animal story reviews. You have every right to hate a book or write that you do, just as people who like a book have every right to respond that its worth reading.

I am also responding to the people here who said they only liked King's early work, when in fact Cujo is one of his earliest books.

Mike (the Paladin) Julius Winsome is one of the "heaviest" animal stories you'll ever read and I gave it 5 stars. I generally "react" to what I take away from a book as it's overall effect.

We all carry with us adult baggage (unless of course we're not talking about an adult, LOL) that shades everything. That will of necessity also effect how we react to fiction be it intended to deliver a message or simply tell a story. There are times it would be nice to know what a book is about enough to make an informed decision about whether you want to read it or not.

For me this trip wasn't worth taking. Just thought I'd put enough out for readers to make an informed decision.

Jeffrey I respect that, of course.

message 27: by R.K. (last edited Jun 06, 2013 11:13AM) (new)

R.K. Delka I haven't read King in years. I picked up Cujo thinking that, due to it's lasting popularity, it would be a great read.

It was horrible. I don't care that it was overly depressing or anything like that. What bothered me was the poor writing - totally amateurish.

I'd have to go back and read or re-read his earlier stuff but if it's anything like Cujo, I'm shocked he ever got his career started.

Awkward dialog, lazy metaphors, just about every page had something that had me rolling my eyes and saying "this is a great writer?"

I never even finished it. I quit at about page 200 and I pushed myself to even get that far.

MrsJoseph *grouchy* Jeffrey wrote: "I am not dismissing your review, just putting it in context with some of your other animal story reviews. You have every right to hate a book or write that you do, just as people who like a book h..."

Mike likes plenty of animal books.

As someone who actually knows him - he's quite the widely read and open minded person.

I find your comment to be deliberately misleading regarding Mike and his reviewing habits.

MrsJoseph *grouchy* Wonderful review, Mike!

Mike (the Paladin) LoL. Thanks. You know me by now, I review books as to how they hit me. They hit others differently.

Dylan Rankin It's called tragedy for a reason, you can't simply say you hate a book because of it's genre that's not logical. You just hate the genre.Nuf said.

message 32: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Aug 30, 2013 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) Sure I can, check the review above.

And King writes horror...I don't recall the cover saying "A Great New Stephen King Tragedy".

Nuff said.

Linette Can't believe people are still trying to tell you how to do your reviews, lol.

Mike (the Paladin) Yeah, but it makes for an interesting break.

It never seems to occur that they can write their own review and give the book a good rating...or vice-versa.

message 35: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott Everyone has an opinion and we may not agree. Case in point: Mike gave a very very very low review of one of my top five favorite books of all time (Golden Compass) but he also has recommended some amazing books that we both agree on (Deed of Paksennarion).

So opinions differ - as do review styles.

I have read reviews as detailed as any literary journal but I much prefer the kind of reviews that Mike writes - they are from the heart and tell me how a book moved him. I follow Mike's reviews. I don't follow some other people's reviews - and there is nothing wrong with that. There are millions of people on Goodreads - connect with the people you want to connect with, follow reviews that you respect and admire but leave the negativity off the site - I come to goodreads for enjoyment not negativity.

Mike - keep up the great reviews.

Dylan Rankin Mike (the Paladin) wrote: "Sure I can, check the review above.

And King writes horror...I don't recall the cover saying "A Great New Stephen King Tragedy".

Nuff said."

Hey Mike, all I'm saying is that you have to review it as a tragedy.

If you hate a tragedy because its tragic you don't hate the book you hate the genre... and surely Cujo is horror but sub genre would be tragedy.

Anyway I'm not picking a fight I just didn't think your review was entirely fair.

message 37: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 25, 2015 01:50PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) Look I'm not picking a fight either... I don't like the book. Again, it's a King book and whether it's tragedy, horror, thriller or whatever you care to label it as it changes nothing.

As I said nowhere does the book carry the label "the great new tragedy". My reviews express my opinion(s) and inform prospective readers. If you disagree that's fine. Again as noted write your own review.

Books in the "horror" genre fall under different categories. That doesn't change what this books is. I like some King books, I like some horror books and I like some tragedies (though I admit not many). People who read this review get my view of it.

message 38: by Alec (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alec Cohen I completely respect your opinions of the book, as I haven't even read it yet (although I intend to very soon). I have one question, meant as respectfully as possible. You stated that "If you are the kind of person who says that novels should reflect all the pain of real life and more...then this may be the book for you."

Do you not believe that books should reflect the pains of real life? I'd say that many of King's books do that. For instance, The Stand. The Stand explores the simple fact that it is in our human nature to fight and quarrel amongst ourselves, no matter what the circumstances. It shows that, even though when we are on the verge of extinction as a race, humans will still continue to wage war.

So, what is the problem with a novel that explores the pains and hardships of human life? This is a serious question, and I am genuinely interested in your answer.

Mike (the Paladin) This book more revels in pain than expresses them. That said I have live through enough tough times that I generally don't choose novels that spend a lot of time in that realm.

There are of course a few books I like greatly that center on pain those books transcend simply telling a painful story and touch the reader deeply. (Julius Winsome for example) The thing is that we don't always agree which is which.

If I go into what I dislike about this particular book it would require spoilers so I won't do that. I will say that others obviously don't agree with me, so if you're a King fan (which I'm not necessarily) you might try it yourself.

message 40: by Alec (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alec Cohen Ok, I plan on reading it soon. Yes, I agree that some books might seem to simply focus on pain just for the sake of focusing on pain, while others focus on pain in order to make a point. Stephen King is generally known for his gore and terror, but once you get into his books, you start to realize that he makes very significant points. In my opinion, he has the ability to write a novel that could wind up as a classic like Moby Dick or Huck Finn, yet he simply chooses not to. He prefers to entertain, and to write simply awesome, exciting, and sometimes over-the-top gory books.

However, you're right. The question of whether or not a given book falls under the "pain for the sake of pain" category or the "pain for the sake of lessons" category is a very gray and opinionated question. I have to read Cujo first in order to argue it.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I'm not as big of a King fan as some, but for me I did love this one. I do agree with you it's beyond depressing and bleak though, I felt miserable when it was done. Having a young son at that age at the time didn't help.

message 42: by Dave (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave I don't think Mike knows what "perspective" means.

message 43: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jul 25, 2015 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) Sorry for the typo, it took a few minutes and then Werner pointed it out to me.

Christy But...this book ISN'T about "just one thing". The first entire half is the building of characters......Cujo doesn't even turn wild until the second half of the book, and by then you know the characters very well....Vic's undying love for Donna in spite of her terrible mistake, Charity's concern over her son--the desire for him to learn about the choices the world has to make. The gruesome action doesn't even begin until the second half....

message 45: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Oct 25, 2016 09:37PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) I'm glad you like the book but for me it's a book that will remain on my hate list. (view spoiler)I don't need that type "event" in my leisure reading. This book and Thinner almost convinced me to never read a king book again.

It is subjective...a matter of personal preference, taste. As noted I'm happy for you that you enjoyed it but the review is my opinion and I truly don't like this book.

Christy Fair enough

Christy Sorry, I actually, never "troll", out of character for me...

message 48: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim I couldn't agree more Mike... I'm a HUGE fan of the movie but ended up skipping 80% of the book because it was just babble.. very disappointing and I gave it a 1 too.

message 49: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Interesting bit of trivia; King wrote this novel while in the depths of alcoholism and cocaine addiction, and was so out of his mind that he doesn't remember writing it at all. Not surprised it sucks, and not surprised that its depressing.

message 50: by Amy (new)

Amy I totally get what you're saying. I had to stop watching Sons of Anarchy because I just didn't want that in my head, no matter how interested I was in the characters... I like some King, but some fails for me, and this one is not one that I'm interested in reading.

Thanks as always for the review.

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