Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review—Doctor Sleep

I've been reading Stephen King for about 30 years. Started reading him at what a lot of folks might say is too young... but my parents, fortunately, were not among them, and they had no problem with me reading Cujo and  Pet Semetery at the age of 10 or so. The fact that my Grandma gave me these books to read probably helped.

Anyway, as the world knows, Stephen King's written a bazillion books. And when you write that many, some will be brilliant and some will be terrible. His latest, Doctor Sleep, isn't brilliant (although it certainly has a few moments of it at the start and at the end), but it's consistently good. It's less concerned with horror than it is with character, and since character is where King is the best, that's fine with me. It's also interesting that, while there is a large cast of villains in the book (a band of road-wandering child-killing vampires who drink psychic powers, not blood) who are pretty reprehensible (what with the child killing and all that)... you kinda end up feeling a little sorry for them. In fact, the villains of Doctor Sleep are strangely out of their league against our protagonists, which is an unusual way to tell a story about child-killing mind-drinking vampires.

OH! It's a sequel to The Shining also. One of the scariest books King's written, and one of the best, perhaps THE best book about a haunted house I've read—it's only competition would be Nazareth Hill or The Haunting of Hill House. As he mentions in is afterword, Stephen King was a very different person when he wrote The Shining, and it shows. And not in a bad way! But... I love The Shining, and it's hard to top it. King doesn't try to top it—Doctor Sleep tells a VERY different story that just happens to be about Danny Torrence, the same little boy, now all grown up, who once saw something very bad in the Overlook Hotel.

Doctor Sleep...
  • ... needed only 7 or so pages to give me the chills. It never really equals the dread of those first few pages... but then again, it's not really trying to. The dread is a cool carry over from The Shining to ease you out of that book's world and into the world of Doctor Sleep.
  • ... will confuse folks who only know the Kubrick version of The Shining. King's version is pretty different.
  • ... makes me eager to see King do squeals to other novels. Pet Semetery, in particular.
Grade: B+

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