Doctor Sleep - Stephen King Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft  - Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez Rose Madder - Stephen King One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz The Stand - Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones / A Clash of Kings / A Storm of Swords / A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin The Shining - Stephen King

"Do I really have any other choice?"


Rose shrugged.  "Only bad ones, dear.  But it's better if you want it.  It will make the Turning easier."


"Does it hurt? The Turning?"


Rose smiled and told the first outright lie.  "Not at all."




Doctor Sleep - published a very short while ago, making it one of the newest works that I've read in a long time.


How did I manage to read it - borrowed from work; figured that I do a bit of "extra credit" by figuring out if this was worth recommending to hapless customers.


I've already talked about the price consideration, when it comes to this book, but as promised, I will talk, now, about the obviously more important aspects of quality, in terms of this book.


I mean, if you're like me and you cringe at the $30 price, it is still possible to borrow from the library or get second hand, sometime down the road, so the REAL question is this - is it worth your time?




The  good news is that if I ever imagined Danny as an adult, this book manages to defy anything that I thought that he would be doing.  In fact, I think that Stephen had the right idea, in making an entire third of the book about Danny - let's just say that I believe that Stephen had his heart in the right place while he was writing the first draft.  This is a Danny-centric story, and he gets that right - at times.


I also enjoy, as I almost inevitably always do, the ease and familiarity that his prose is.  You won't likely be digging through paragraphs with a spoon, looking for deeper meaning or the meaning in general - unlike some... OTHER authors who I won't name.   it's a quick read - good for a long ride somewhere, especially if you're a die hard King fan and want a little bit of suspense and some action.


Its other star, a young girl named Abra (can I just say, for the record, that I love her name?  Because I do.)  manages to not be one of those child character that consantly makes you grind your teeth, wishing that you could give them their medicine.  After having read all of the Locke & Keys that King's son has written - which were written with simply the most MARVELOUS children characters that I have ever read, anywhere - I can see where Hill built off of the knowledge that his father gave him on writing characters.   I also love how downright savage she can be, when pissed off - reminding me of the protagonist of Rose Madder on more than one occasion.  Every time that she sheds the innocent little girl facade and shows her downright monstrous side, I felt a little titter of glee, and got the feeling that somewhere, somehow, an avid Jane Austen fan just got a sinking sense of unease.


Without going too far into the opposition that Danny faces in the book - I love the concept of it.  It is just one of those things that King is so famously imaginative to think of, and when it comes to that part of the writing, I feel as though King exercises that "less is more" mantra that is a similarity between all of his best stories, especially regarding that part of the background and the exposition regarding it.  If we're reading a part regarding Danny's opposition, then we're reading a part of the story that is wonderfully grotesque and moving rapidly.


I love the community that these people have built up, and in many instances, I can say that I actually grew to care more about the opposition than the "good" guys.  Which leads me into some other issues...


Now, here's the problem -


I can't kid myself - this is not a good book by any standard by which King's best works are judged.  It's not particularly compelling (sorry), because the stakes are simply just not believably high enough for my liking, I find any characters that Danny teams up with to be dull, boring people that make me feel as though I am reading the equivalent of the adult performances in the made-for-tv miniseries of IT and, I frankly felt that I was reliving a less hammer-it-into-your-head Christian proselytizing version of one of my most hated books - Dean Koontz's One Fucking Doorway from Goddamned Heaven.  


King, I've almost always gone up to bat for you - with the exception of The Stand, I regard you as sort of my mentor for the foundation of my skills as a writer.  On Writing quite literally saved my life when I was so very depressed that I saw no way out of my self hatred than by doing something potentially drastic.  Your memoir/guide book on being a writer taught me that I could write from my heart, that horror is, truly, the most noble and truthful genre of writing, the closest to the truth of humanity, be it good or evil, and taught me how to take to writing in an instinctive manner, writing my first drafts as though allowing the story to take over my body during the first draft, then worrying about everything else in the re-write stages. 


That's why it hurts to be THAT person right now - but truthfully, after having read this, I feel awful for mistakenly recommending this to customers at the bookstore where I work.  This is missing very crucial ingredients in what is present in your best, your most revelationary, work.   It feels like a sad caricature of what you've proved that you're capable of, multiple times in the past - it's a tin man without a heart or a hope.


Where Koontz in One Doorway Away from Heaven bizarrely throws his own feces at what he considers to be Utilitarianism and praising God, so much so that I thought that I had mistakenly found the only known novel to be written by Jack Chick, you rail against substance abuse and praise the widely-known broken system known as AA.  Not only is it uncomfortable for someone who knows that that system just doesn't work and that it is archaic and needlessly religious where it should be welcoming of all philosophies regarding mortality or the idea of the afterlife, but the worst offense of all is that it doesn't fit.   The story would have been shorter - better - and a good deal more focused without King swearing by the broken magic of AA.


King, what were you THINKING?  I would ask myself that, if King did not make it ABUNDANTLY clear where his intentions were in the afterword of the book itself.  This is not Danny's story, but rather, a love story to the wonders of AA, with a supernatural sub plot tossed in.    This is King's view of AA - and showing what could have happened to Jack Torrance, if ONLY he had turned himself over to God and learned to loathe himself for his own failings.  


Make no mistake about it - Danny has almost NO discernible character traits that differentiate him a good deal from his father.   On many levels he is a hopeless man who is ENSLAVED by alcohol - oh, and he happens to now have less power that he did when he was a kid.  Tell why, WHY am I supposed to are about adult Danny, who seems to me to be a shadow of the interesting personality that he exhibited as a child?


The ending also feels horribly unsatisfying - I only briefly felt as though the main characters were in a situation that they would have to struggle desperately to get out of, and when the ending came up. I had to shake my head at the way that King ended it.


And as for Abra - I have always said that King writes women better than many women writers I know of, but this girl oftentimes felt like a character written by an older man.  The references to other real-world fiction almost broke this character in half, for me - in particular, Abra imagining Daenerys from A Song of Ice and Fire did two things - first, it made me facepalm, hard, and two, it made me wonder why I am not finishing book four in that series instead of finishing THIS book.


On a last note - King, Kubrick is dead.  Even though he is dead, he was a true artist that many would argue made an aesthetic imprint on the world of cinema that beats any lasting influence that you would make in the long run like a squalling child.  I am certainly not one of those people, but I do hate it that you chose to end the book on a smug note that managed to both insult the intellect of the audience you most certainly share with that dead genius, while also rubbing a dead man's nose into the fact that you will ALWAYS reject his re-visioning of The Shining.  


King, two things - one, the movie version YOU put your stamp of approval on (and made for TV, no less!) is one of the most laughable pieces of shit that I have ever laid eyes on.  It is a stiff caricature of what you wanted, it is uninspired, the acting and the effects are COMPLETE GARBAGE, and, oh, did I mention that once you see Kubrick's The Shining, there's no way that you could ever look at that pile of shit and not burst out laughing?


Two - Even though it shouldn't NEED to be said, Kubrick's film is a horror masterpiece, with the acting being superb, containing within it possibly Jack Nicholson's most deservedly remembered role as Jack Torrance, and certainly Shelly Duvall's most remembered, the effects still standing up decades later and the wonderfully crafted imagery and symbolism still capable of scaring people anew today and, oh, still managing, arguably, to contain some of the most clever subliminal massages ever conceived, nestled within so many frames of the movie that it staggers the mind?   (In case you haven't, rent - don't buy - the documentary Room 237, a documentary with brief moments of startling intelligence sprinkled amongst the batshit crazy, the best parts, arguably, being the concept of Kubrick creating the subliminal effect of thinking of horrific atrocities committed by humans).


You never gave that movie your precious stamp of approval, but it's played at film festivals and beloved by people the world over.


Do you know what you put your stamp of approval on?


The Langoliers.



LOOK AT IT.  Rice krispies, indeed, Mr. King.


But here's the fun part: in Kubrick's film, he crushed what was then your car into a semi, in his film.



I think that, because he's dead and can't defend himself, this should stand as the ultimate fuck-you to King's nonending whining and jabbing. 


Kubrick totaled your car.


As a die-hard King fan. writing this review hurt waaay more than it would have, if I had been breaking some other author apart, but if the emperor needs to be told that he is not wearing any clothes - isn't it better if the news comes from a friend?