Tag: stephen king (page 1 of 2)

2015 Book #14: It

itcoverI finally read It. It’s been on my tbr shelf (and my tl;dr pile) for at least a decade, maybe even longer than The Stand was. (I’m having a hard time keeping away from the obvious puns. Gah.)

If you read my review of The Stand, you know that I couldn’t get beyond the made-for-tv movie I’d seen so many times. It ruined the book for me. I was really worried that that would happen with It, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. I think that happened for a couple of reasons: 1. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie as many times as I’d seen The Stand. I’m pretty sure that I’d usually fall asleep by the time the second half starts, so there were parts of the book that I’d assumed I’d forgotten about in the movie that, as it turned out, weren’t even in the movie at all. 2. The movie is soooooo different than the book. What’s funny is that while it’s soooooo different, it’s essentially almost exactly the same. I’ll get to that.

You’re probably familiar with at least the gist of the plot, even if you haven’t seen or read it (I say that, but I didn’t know what Salem’s Lot was about…): A bunch of kids in Derry, Maine, are killed, including ten-year-old Bill Denborough’s brother. Bill and six of his friends track down the monster, who usually appears as the adorable (heh) Pennywise the Dancing Clown. They go into the sewers to fight it, and they think they killed it, but they aren’t sure, so they promise to come back if it reappears. Which it does, about 27 years later, when they’re all adults. Scary things happen.

So. In a lot of ways, It was exactly what I expected after seeing the movie so many times. In other ways, it was not at all like it. I won’t spoil the fun (heh again), but there’s a scene in the book when they’re kids, just after they’ve defeated It, that is…surprising – and, I think, shocking and unnecessary. (WTF, Stephen King? You know exactly what I’m talking about.) Otherwise, a lot of the differences between the book and the movie were probably made for budgetary reasons, especially when it was made around 1990, before the heyday of CGI. Which makes me excited about the new one in the works: It is the perfect movie for a CGI makeover. I’m generally not one to get excited about movie remakes, but this is an exception. There’s a whole world in the book that couldn’t translate well to film without CGI. The only problem, of course, is that Tim Curry will always be Pennywise in my head, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. For the rest? They can do better. The book isn’t half as corny as the made-for-TV movie. (I guess I should put a spoiler alert on this video, in case you don’t know what It is.)

This isn’t really a review, is it. (Are my reviews ever reviews?) If you’re a fan of Mr. Stephenking and you haven’t read It, you should. Yeah, it’s long. Now that I’ve read several, I think I can claim that it’s one of his best, though none so far can touch the Dark Tower series.

Oh! I forgot about the Dark Tower references! If you read my reviews regularly, you probably also know that I’ve become a Dark Tower (and Stephen King) junkie, and I get tremendously excited when I see a Dark Tower reference in a Stephen King novel. And there are lots. The turtle, one of the beams, makes an appearance, and It itself is some sort of relation to another important character in the series. There are also the little mentions peppered around just like in the rest of his novels. So much fun!

Is It a good place to start with our friend Mr. Stephenking, you ask? Yes, indeed. Possibly the best, though The Shining might be a little more accessible just because it’s shorter. And most people seem to like Salem’s Lot, though I didn’t. As much as I love the Dark Tower series, I wouldn’t start there. But God forbid, don’t start with The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon. I’m still annoyed at that one.

2015 Book #5: The Stand

thestandSo I finally read The Stand. It had a firm place on my TBR list for at least ten years, possibly since I saw the TV miniseries several years ago. Okay, so I’ve seen said miniseries more than once. Probably at least five times. Don’t judge.

Until fairly recently, most of my exposure to Stephen King was made-for-TV movies like The Stand, IT, and The Langoliers, all of which I love. I’d only read The Shining and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, one of which is good and one of which is in my top five Worst Books Ever. I’ll let you guess which one is which. Then, of course, the Dark Tower series happened, and all hell broke loose.

I can’t get enough of Stephen King.

I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t either read The Stand or seen the miniseries, so I’ll only give the vaguest of synopses: A horrible plague decimates society, leaving two camps of immune people: one drawn to a nice old lady in Nebraska and another drawn to an evil Walkin Dude in Las Vegas. They divide into their various camps and Things Happen.

See what I did there? Two sentences to explain a 1200-page book. Easy.

I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t seen the miniseries so many times. I couldn’t help but compare them. You aren’t missing anything super-important if you haven’t read the book. The main differences involve horror and sex that couldn’t be put on TV. Maybe it’s worth it for the real story on the dog named Kojak, but otherwise, you aren’t missing too much. (One amusing bit, though, involves Harold Lauder: he’s nothing like the actor. Imagine a young George R.R. Martin. Yep. That’s Harold.)

thestandmovie

What I did find interesting were the numerous references to The Dark Tower. First of all, there’s Randall Flagg, who is a character in the Dark Tower series. There are also mentions of ka, the unfound door, and gunslingers. Fascinating stuff! Otherwise, The Stand is okay. I don’t regret reading it, though I probably won’t do it again. That said, I still can’t stop reading Stephen King. I think IT is next, though I’m going to stick with smaller books in the short term, as The Stand took quite a while and I have a quota to hit.

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Featured photo credit: Kevin Schraer

2014: The Year in Books

Here we are at the beginning of another year. As usual, I read Lots of Things last year, and I plan to do the same in 2015. Here’s what I read in 2014, formatted as always: bold means I really liked it, italics means I hated it, and plain ol’ text means it was good enough.

Lots of bold this year!

So, you ask, what was the best? Sort of like last year, I’m going to list a couple: the BEST book I read (as in objectively the best) and the book I most enjoyed. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know at least the first book already.

Drumroll, please…

butcherscrossing

Yep. This is the second year in a row that John Williams has taken the prize. Last year, it was Stoner, which is in my top five Best Books I’ve Ever Read. I’m not sure that Butcher’s Crossing made its way that high, but it just might be in the top ten. It’s perfectly constructed and definitely the best book of 2015. I had to get it from the library’s ILL system because there was no local copy, and I liked it so much that I asked for my own copy for Christmas. It’s sitting on my shelf next to Williams’s only other novel, Augustus, which I’ll probably read this year.

Okay, the best novel is down. This second category isn’t quite as easy, and my decision surprises even me. Ready?

bernadette

What? I know. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was the first audiobook I listened to on my frequent walks with Zelda, and I enjoyed it so much that it made the top of the list. I somehow doubt it’d be here if I’d read the book, as the audiobook presentation made it for me. That’s one I’ll probably listen to again at some point.

Of course there are honorable mentions because I can’t make up my mind about this one. Butcher’s Crossing is my rock solid choice for Best Book, but I’m clearly fuzzy about Where’d You Go, Bernadette, so here are some close runners-up, in no particular order:

2014runnersup

So there you have it: Cosmicomics by Italo CalvinoThe Inverted World by Christopher Priest, and The Wind through the Keyhole by Stephen King. Oh so good! I’m reliving them in my head right now. I sure hope Mr. Stephenking finds it in his heart to write another Dark Tower novel…

Onward!

2015 is off to a slow start: I’m reading another novel by Mr. Stephenking, and it’s LONG, so give me a couple weeks. I’m trying to make myself suffer through the second half of a crappy audiobook so I have something to post, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’ve decided to dispense entirely with any extracurricular reading goals (beyond the Usual Fifty), so we’ll see what happens. I’m not even going to try making a TBR list because we all know how that turned out last year. Yay, 2015!

Photo credit: Jack

2014 Book #59: Revival

revivalI’m not quite sure what possessed me to read a Stephen King book the day it came out. I was just coming off of The Wind through the Keyhole, which was fantastic, and I guess I was more hopeful than I should have been. Revival, unlike The Dark Tower series, is King’s usual fare, and it’s not very good.

It’s about Jamie, who begins the book as a six-year-old kid and grows into an adult, always somehow shadowed by Charles Jacobs, a local pastor who was fired from his parish after three years. Jacobs studies electricity, performing experiments and wowing the local children with a table with electric lights and a model of Jesus that walks across water. Shortly after Jacobs arrives in town, Jamie’s brother Con has a skiing accident that leaves him unable to speak. Jacobs cures him with electricity applied to his neck. Jamie really likes Jacobs, and everything goes smoothly until a couple years later, when Jacobs’s wife and child are killed in a horrific car accident. Jacobs loses what little faith he had in God and delivers what Jamie calls the Terrible Sermon. He is fired and disappears. Jamie grows into a young adult, plays guitar in various bands, and ends up addicted to heroin. He wanders into a carnival, only to see Jacobs, now going by a different name, using electricity to take creepy photographs. Jacobs recognizes Jamie and uses electricity to cure him of his addiction, but Jamie quickly learns that such power has its consequences, and not just for him. Things Continue to Happen in a Mr. Stephenking sort of way.

All of that said, Revival moves surprisingly slowly. I should probably note here that most of my experience with King involves The Dark Tower, which appears to be a huge exception to everything else he’s written, but I was expecting more horror and more action. Which might mean that Revival is a better book than a lot of his others – not that I’ve read most of them. My last non-Dark Tower-related King novel was Salem’s Lot, which I hated mainly because (*spoiler alert*) I hate vampire novels. But I’ve talked about that before.

(And here’s where I put in the real spoiler alert.) I was excited about Revival because of the religious theme, and I was pretty well on board until about the halfway point, when I realized that this is a Frankenstein novel. Too many variations of this novel have been written since Mary Shelley had a good idea so many years ago. It’s overdone. A small credit to King is that it doesn’t turn out exactly as you’d expect, and it’s better for that. And there’s an interesting glimpse of a horrific afterlife at the end that, if it wasn’t, well, stupid, would make the entire book worth reading. Okay, end of spoiler.

So I’ve done a good bit of complaining, but I kind of enjoyed Revival. It’s really not very good, but I enjoyed myself through most of it. It’s certainly not one of King’s better novels, but it’s nowhere near his worst, either. (That honor just might be left to The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Ugh.). Which all means that if you like the kind of novels Stephen King writes, you might enjoy this one. He’s kept the horror to a minimum and veers toward (an attempt at) gothic near the end. It’s probably about what you’d expect because that’s good enough to fill Mr. Stephenking’s wallet, and with books like this, he seems only to be after the paycheck.

And here’s my own (very minor) spoiler alert: my annual template change is coming up, and if Elegant Themes doesn’t release their new blog theme in the next couple of days, Oh wait…I forgot will soon look like this. I think it’s perfect. Next year, my goal needs to be to learn coding well enough to make my own WordPress templates. These things are expensive!

2014 Books #54-58: Ridiculous. I know.