Kat Kennedy's Reviews > 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
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's review
Apr 20, 2010

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Salem’s Lot is the first and only Stephen King novel I’ve ever read.

To be honest, this is a short review because I didn’t finish it. The problem wasn’t that King wasn’t a compelling writer who has obviously honed his craft. Every single chapter was interesting and immersive. I found myself drawn into the world he was spinning and deeply intrigued by the mystery of it all.

However, I suppose I couldn’t read it because this book is what I imagine it would be like to live with ADHD. It bounced around for no apparent reason following random people’s lives. Whilst I know King probably has an excellent reason for showing all these random stories, his story-telling fell short just enough to make me lose interest.

I figured since he showed no compulsion to get on with the damn story, then maybe it was because he found the various stereotyped small-town occupants and their day-to-day lives more interesting than the thrilling horror this novel promised to be.

I’m sad I could only give this novel three stars because what I read of this book, I actually really enjoyed and would earnestly consider finding some of his other work to read. At least the man can string together a sentence quite nicely, even if he did lose me on his great American horror orgy.
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Reading Progress

April 20, 2010 – Shelved
October 24, 2010 – Started Reading
October 30, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana My fave of his are Misery and Dolores Claiborne. Try one of those if you are ever interested in giving him another chance. They are shorter too.

Kat Kennedy Cool, I will try those because I actually really liked his writing. Just not the waffling part.

message 3: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH The Shining is my personal favorite. Very scary.

message 4: by Megan (last edited Oct 30, 2010 08:46AM) (new)

Megan Kat, I've read pretty much everything by Stephen King (long before GR existed, so none of it is listed here) and while I do like his stories, his writing style bugs me too. Try his short stories. The shortness of it forces him to focus & IMO they are immensely better than his full length novels.
Night Shift
Four Past Midnight
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

Hmmm... I may be forgetting a few, but that's all I can think of for right now. Night Shift is interesting because it is his earliest, so you can see him experimenting with his style. The later books are much more polished in terms of the voice.

Sandi I really like Firestarter and The Shining. I think Under the Dome and The Stand suffered from the flaws you talk about here. The only other King books I've read are The Gunslinger and Blockade Billy, neither of which I've liked.

I've recently started reading some Dean Koontz and am finding him to be a much better writer. He seems to be more focused and some of his prose just blows me away.

message 6: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH I enjoyed his earlier works. When he got more popular, I stopped buying his books.

message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan AH wrote: "I enjoyed his earlier works. When he got more popular, I stopped buying his books."

I agree, his new stuff isn't nearly as good as it used to be.

message 8: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana And did you see the size of his latest book?

message 9: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH No - I haven't seen the size of his latest book. I really stopped reading him after the Dark Tower series. I used to commute to work in this really old 1940's train (really uncomfortable). The last bit of the ride was 15 minutes through a tunnel. The train would creak and shake and we'd all hope that it wouldn't break down in the tunnel - that was the perfect atmosphere for that series The Gunslinger is the first book. Never read past the third book, though.

message 10: by Megan (new)

Megan Tatiana wrote: "And did you see the size of his latest book?"

Under the Dome? It is over 1,000 pages! I've tried to read it a few times but always lose interest early on.

message 11: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH I read this book Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson last year - Really long book - at least 900 pages if I recall and I loved it. I wish I had it as an ebook because that book was pain to hold. Truly a worthwhile read if you are into cryptology/computers/crazy paranoid characters and really long books.

message 12: by Alicia (new)

Alicia i agree with a PP, try his short stories! they are way better than his novels IMO because like you said, he likes to bounce around a lot. the only novels ive noticed that dont do that are the ones that dont have many characters.

message 13: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess He wanted you to know personally every person that lived in the town, which I thought he pulled off excellently. It really helped scare the crap out of you when you actually felt like you KNEW the person that was victimized by the vampires. It was a great book. You should try to finish it? :)

message 14: by Lena (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lena I also thought he put in way too many random side stories about minor characters. But I wouldn't write him off because of this one book. Try Gerald's Game or Deloras Claiborne. Or The Stand (although that does the same thing w/ lots of POV, so if you don't like that...maybe not).

message 15: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele I agree fully with Kat's comments. I'm at page 107 already and Stephen King keeps introducing yet another character. I seem to have lost track of all these townspeople and am fast losing my interest. I think it is better to skim through the pages and skip some chapters just to get on with the story. Next time I will choose a Stephen King book with half as much number of pages.

Kelli Stephen King's gift for storytelling makes him want to take the reader to the same place he is at in his mind as he writes it. Honestly some people do not have the patience for all of the detail he likes to depict in his stories. For me, I truly felt I knew the people in this town, how normal everyone was in the beginning and how destroyed the town was in the end. I felt like I was THERE. Scary stuff.

Matthew Hodge I would agree with Kelli. The reason there's so much detail of characters is because, one by one, as people become vampires, it's all the more scary because it's people you've been introduced to. Rarely in a vampire tale do you hear about all the vampires before they became undead, but King does this really well and a bit of patience at the beginning will pay off in spades during the last half of the book.

Aditya Actually the book worked for me because of its detailing otherwise it would have been just a run of the mill thriller & not a classic..The victims were not only random people they had their own secrets & motivation for doing what they do..i thought some of the victims deserved what they got i.e.the bus driver,the wife beater..

message 19: by David (new)

David i've tried reading stephen king but never get pass 50 pages, i really dont know why his "the most popular author of all time" i've tried reading Dreamcatcher, It, Salem's Lot, The Stand, and Bag Of Bones. I gues it's because i have to read alot before getting to the plot, I to think that Dean Koontz is a better writer.

message 20: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Try The Shining... It doesn't jump around and is an excellent story.. I personally love Stephen King.. Shawshank Redemption is short and good, so is The Green Mile.. These three books are what turned new on to Stephen King in the first place :)

message 21: by L (new) - rated it 5 stars

L It's true. He never mean to horrify us with his various monsters. Those are just the face. The characters... The "town" are his true story... And yeah, he fixates on them. If you're focused on the monster... His books will disappoint you.

Damon So you really enjoyed it but couldn't be bothered to finish it. That makes sense. "King probably has an excellent reason for showing all these random stories," but you won't be waiting around to find out, no-siree. I'm not a professional proofreader, but I could have condensed much of your review down to a single sentence: "I was too lazy to finish the book." I'm sorry the subplot involving the town's inherent evil augmenting the real physical danger of the vampire went over your head. However, next time please do not post a review for a book you have not finished. It's disingenuous.

Therifleman57 I agree that he lost my interest in places where he went on & on describing people or places. King is obviously very successful but I hate to get bogged down in (what I consider) information that doesn't really add anything to the story.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Rose madder was my favorite and I , like you, have trouble with his writing. Total psycho cop who performs spousal abuse and hunts her down! Total cat and mouse game. It ends weirdly, but for the most part, it's not gory, but so exciting I couldn't wait to wake up and continue. I'm reading , currently, for the 2nd time, Lisey's story, cruelty to cats, stopped me originally, but he does kinda ramble in it and I'm persuaded by a fan to " get with the program on an American writer". He does claim to have been blitzed on alcohol while writing cujo and maybe the addictions he has suffered from effected his work being a recovering alcoholic and addicted to various narcotics because of a serious van accident. He is clean today and Lisey's story was derived from his author wife, Tabitha, redecorating his office after he lost desire to write and almost lost his life to a man hitting him while walking. Check out Rose Madder. Delores Claiborne a hoot too:-)!

Shayla Raquel I definitely felt the same way at first. But then he had a reason for every last one of those characters. They all had a part in his novel the further in you read.

Gloria I agree with Shayla... it was kind of irritating at times... many separate stories apparently meaningless... and a bit confusing. However, as you carry on with the reading, each story evolves and finds its own ending. I would have preferred a different "rhythm"... more action... but still, a really nice story. This is King's first novel I'm reading and I will certainly read more. :)

Shayla Raquel Gloria, you must read Misery! It's my favorite of his.

message 28: by Nathan (new) - added it

Nathan How do you write a review of a book you did not read?

Shayla Raquel Um. Who is Nathan talking to?

message 30: by Aya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aya If I were you I would probably try his "magnum opus", the Dark Tower seies. You read that one. you understand why King is one of the best there is. :)

Sandi Aya wrote: "If I were you I would probably try his "magnum opus", the Dark Tower seies. You read that one. you understand why King is one of the best there is. :)"

I'm going to disagree with you. The Gunslinger is a truly awful book. No matter how many people tell me how great the Dark Tower series is, I'm not going to read any further than that. Despite his huge following, I find Stephen King to be rather hit or miss. I've read quite a bit, but not even close to everything. 11/22/63, It, Firestarter, and Joyland are excellent. The Stand and The Shining are much beloved, but dated by too many pop culture references. Those references are especially terrible in the extended version of The Stand because he tried to "update" some of them and it ends up being a weird mix of 70's and 90's pop culture. I would have liked to read the original version, but it's not available in ebook. Then, there are truly awful Stephen King books, like 'Salem's Lot and Under the Dome. To be fair, his awful books are far less awful than a lot of books that I've read, so I probably rate them higher than they really deserve. But, it seems that he's gotten so popular that his publishers are unwilling to edit. Thus, many of his newer books are huge tomes with a lot of extraneous crap to sift through to find the ultimately good story buried within. Ultimately, Stephen King is successful because he is a fantastic storyteller. But, he isn't the best there is. And, he often isn't as good as his best either.

message 32: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad I read the Gunslinger, and had no interest in continuing on with the series. Just not really my cup of tea.

message 33: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad I would go so far as to say 'Salem's Lot is far and away King's best novel. The detail of the characters in the small town is what gives the book it's charm, and it's vile undercurrent. I listened to it on audiobook and some days as I pulled into work I didn't want to get out of the car and go in I was so enthralled by that particular part of the story. Of course, a lot of days I pull into work and don't want to get out, good audiobook or not! hahaha

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