Even when King is off, I still find him to be the best. This one is a miss for the master. This is the second book in the Bill Hodges/Mr. Mercedes Trilogy. It is the story of Morris Bellamy, a fan of a JD Salinger type of writer, but imagine if Salinger had turned Holden Caulfield into a sell-out advertisement agent before he stopped writing. You may not be outraged by the indignation, but Bellamy was. He was driven completely insane by the idea, driven to the point of murder. Bellamy’s monomaniacal fan-boydom is the driving force behind the book. While I would say it is a miss, I enjoyed the hell out of it and would still recommend it with gusto. I look forward to reading book three.
Having seen the movie, I expected the book to be better than it was. That is not to say it was bad. King is a master of building suspense, and the suspense was captured nicely in the film adaptation. There isn’t a lot to say about this book that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It is King at the top of his game, but I didn’t find it scary, but I can tell he scared himself as he wrote it, and that is pretty awesome.
Annie Wilkes is a great villain. One of King’s strengths is creating complex, realistic villains, and Annie is probably his greatest creation. And the social commentary of a city man being kidnapped and tortured by a country woman is pretty great fun too.
This was the first book by Nick Cutter that I have ever read. And while I am quick to say that I didn’t like this book, I will say this, it held my attention and kept me reading. I will read more by Mr. Cutter, but I will have to let this one marinate for a while first. The story line was gripping and unpredictable, his use of suspense and human universalities was reminiscent of King’s work, and the horror was both gruesome and internal. While that would in most cases pull a four-star review form me, this book also failed for me in several aspects. Cutter’s use of descriptive metaphors often left me laughing rather than grossed out, a good trick, but not the intended reaction. The characters are more archetypal characters rather than real people. They are the standard child characters that can be seen in any Disney show, and that made me secretly hope that they all would die. The one thing that I can say about this book is that while reading it, any time my stomach growled, I thought, if only for a second, that I was being eaten alive by tapeworms. That feeling alone made it worth the time and money.
Eyes of the Dragon has been sitting on my bookshelf For more than half my life. It was a book I got in my youth during the long fantasy obsessed years of my life, a phase that eventually yielded to horror. I now find it ironic that the book sat unread through both stages. The lure of the Dragon was not so great to entice me during the fantasy years, and the lure of the (Stephen) King was not great enough to lure me after. So 25 years the book sat neglected, but now the deed is done, the book has been read. The only question is whether I will remember it enough to not forget that I’ve read it.
The book really is among King’s worst works. It is a mild story in every way. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and the storyline read like a fairytale. But there is a difference, in fairytales shocking things happened: stepsisters hack off their toes to fit their feet in the slipper, stupendous acts of magic occur that leave us spell bound and there is true suspense because you love and relate to the characters. This book has no shocks, no unexpected twists, and the characters are hollow and vague. The narrator paints the picture, but often refers to himself, breaking the suspension of disbelief. And every step through the story the most expected thing is the thing that occurs.
Now that I’ve slammed it really good, let me tell you about how much I enjoyed it. Seriously, I enjoyed the hell out of the book. The world of King is tied into the story in ways that I can’t say I fully understand. Rolland is the King and Flagg is his court wizard. As a fan of the Dank Tower series, this was a fun story to think of how it is meant to tie together.
If I missed any big links, please let me know.
I have not read much Joe Hill, but I have often thought of him as a privileged author that would be steered by a large team of editors to a guaranteed success. I have given his writing ability little credit in the past, often assuming that he has been counseled and edited by the best money can buy. I have read his most popular work, NOS4A2, and thought it was basically the same book as Dr. Sleep, using the same cheep sympathy trick of children killing and using stereotyped characters.
My hopes for Horns were low, but I found it to be far better than expected. The books main character is in many ways an anti-hero, but he is also the moral superior in the story. The villain’s character is perhaps the only one that I really had a problem with. He was supposed to be a clean-nosed goody-two-shoes, yet before introducing him as such you hear about depraved behaviors that would instantly get around any small town and have him labeled as a bit of an ass-hole.
The premise of the story was a fun one. A young man with a checkered past wakes up with horns one morning, and the horns make people tell their worst desires. There are many fun things that could venture off the basic premise, and Mr. Hill does have quite a bit of fun with it before getting into the real nuts-and-bolts of the story of finding out who murdered his girlfriend. Eventually, Hill wraps the story up with a nice resolution and an explanation of the horns.
The constant allusions to music (especially the Stones) was a fun diversion from the story. I give this book 3 ½ stars, a good showing that makes it worth reading.
On a side note, I also just read The Devil’s Lament by Kenneth W. Harmon, and I found it to be a far more serious and interesting look at the nature of the devil. Neither book is scary in the slightest though.