Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some New Reads, A Few Old Reads


I know it’s been a while. I'm reading like a madman, literally.

Eight Stephen King books down...I give you Carrie, Salems Lot, The Shining, The Stand, The Long Walk, The Deadzone, Firestarter and Roadwork. It's been, to say the least, very interesting. I had never read Salem's Lot, The Stand or any of The Bachman books which include The Long Walk and Roadwork. The last two were written under the penname Richard Bachman which King had used for quite some time before someone blew his cover. Honestly, the more books I read the more excited I become about finishing all of his novels. His style of writing has become so addicting to me. I usually start a book intending to only read a few chapters and end up half way through the book before I know it.

So lets starts with a few old reads.

Carrie
Seriously. It's easy to see how King gained a following after releasing this as his first book .You could easily finish it in a day. Unfortunately in this day and age we know the story of Carrie, the telekinetic chick who was bullied in high school, goes to prom with the cool guy, has pig blood splattered all over her and then demolishes the whole town with her mind. When this book was released you had no idea what was going on BUT you knew something was wrong from the very beginning. You knew there was a tragedy because of the newspaper clippings referring to "The Carrie Incident." There was also clippings from scientific journals about telekinesis and notes from survivors. As the reader you just didn't understand the extent of damage that was going to occur. When everything began to happen your jaw dropped. I originally read this at a very young age and thoroughly enjoyed it this time around. It definitely set the tone for the books that followed. Well written, great story, page turner.

The Shining
I'll be the first to admit that the book is terrifying and the movie, though very different, is horrifying. I remember having nightmares the first time I read this book. I also had nightmares when I watched the movie. And yet again with this reread. This story is very complex. You have a little boy who is telepathic and has some visions of the future. You have an (recovering) alcoholic father who loves his family but feels like a huge failure. You have a mother who doesn’t understand her child, wants the best for her family but has to deal with a recovering alcoholic as a husband. And then you have The Overlook Hotel which becomes a character in itself. It's supposed to be their chance to recover as a family. It's supposed to be where they can start over again. It's supposed to be their safe haven. What it turns out to be is a possessed landmark where all of the tragedies that have happened within its walls have been absorbed and is somehow projecting itself unto its inhabitants. The evil that is in the hotel is literally possessing the father and trying to use him to capture the life and power of the son. The details put into the visual aspects of this story is what makes it so horrifying and brilliant. It is by far one of my favorite Stephen King novels regardless of the fact that it ruins my sleeping pattern.

The Deadzone
Now this book is different. It's not what you would consider a horror book. This is a nonhorror of Kings but it doesn’t take away from the book at all. This is the story of John Smith, a man who after a horrible car crash is in a coma for 4 and a half years. He wakes up with the ability to “read” people. He can learn their life story or catch glimpses of their life by touching them or objects they own. It's interesting to say the least. He is both overwhelmed by the power and confused by what it all means. The novel is a look at the man and how he deals with the issues. He ends up using this newfound ability to both stop a murderer and a crazy politician but the struggle of the man is what keeps you reading. How do you handle this gift, if you can consider it a gift at all?

Firestarter
My first ever Stephen King! To say I was excited to read this again is an understatement. I don't know how I got through this book at nine years old. It's intense. A lot of medical jargon is thrown around but basically this guy was in college and was part of an experiment, where he met his wife, that was supposed to test hallucinogens. What it really did was give him the power to influence people's minds and made his wife telekinetic. They gave birth to a child that can start and control fires with her mind and is slightly telekinetic. We meet the father and daughter after the mother has been murdered. They are on the run and have been on the run for a while. Who are they running from? The Shop. The government agency that is responsible for the original drug. What do they want? The 9 year old daughter, Charlie. They say you shouldn't play with fire. Read this book and you will understand why.

Lets move on to something new, well a few things new to me at least.

Salem's Lot
A vampire has come to the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot. A writer has also come to town obsessed with an old home he remembers from his childhood. The home stands on a hill and from that hill you can see the lay of the land. That home is where the vampire chooses to reside. Nothing seems wrong at first but then people begin to disappear. Things get strange. It's up to the writer and his motley crew to save the town. They don't but they try. It's like a plague runs through the town taking families out one by one. This definitely falls into the horror genre. It isn’t my favorite but its worth a read.

The Stand
Arguably, one of Stephen Kings most famous novels. This book is about a plague, the superflu. The government was testing biological weapons when all hell broke loose and the people testing the virus were infected. Of course one of the infected, a guard none the less, escaped with his family and spread the virus to unsuspecting civilians. The superflu then infected everyone…well, almost everyone. What made this book amazing was the battle that happens between good and evil. The survivors, who we meet from all over the United States, are having dreams. Most see an older black woman inviting them to come to her where they can start over. But they all dream of Randall Flagg, the man in black, who is a more ominous presence. Now you have to decide who you will follow. Many of them begin to follow the older woman and plan to rebuild society. Others follow Flagg. I read the extended version of this novel and honestly too much happened in this novel to go into much detail. I do though want to point out that one of King’s major themes is obvious in this book. Telepathy. He again plays with the idea of telepathy through the dreams that the survivors have. He also deals with faith, God and the idea of a living persona of the devil in this book. I couldn’t put this book down and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Stephen King.

The Long Walk and Roadwork
I understand after reading these two books why Stephen decided to print this under the penname. The first book published under Bachman was Rage. That book is no longer in print. King pulled it after students had studied it when planning school a shooting which is exactly what the main character did in his book. The Long Walk was the second book. Eat your heart out Hunger Games because the competition for these 100 teenage boys is to literally walk, and walk, and walk until the one person standing is the only one left alive. There are rules to this game: you have to walk at a certain pace, no falling or stopping, you can get water at any time but you get your portions of food once a day. You get three warnings and then you get shot. There are spectators lining the road. You learn how many people are left based on the gossip being passed down boy to boy and you can hear the gunshots when the kids are killed. There is no sleep. There is only walking until you can walk no more. The prize is whatever you want for the rest of your life. You, the reader, walk with them. As the days pass you learn the motives of some of the boys but mostly you just watch as they all fall one…by one. Now Roadwork moves like The Long Walk. There is a certain pace to the Bachman Books that becomes evident. This, the third book is about a man whose house is about to be destroyed because an expressway is being built through it. That same expressway is being built through his job. He hates it. He can’t deal with it. He is at a loss of what to do. So he does nothing. King’s delve into the reasoning behind our protagonist mind frame which has a lot to do with his son’s untimely death. Does he let them (the government, the builders, the system) take everything away or does he fight back.


So that’s what I’ve been up to. Those are the books that have been taking up my time. I have a long way to go. Let’s see if I can finish by the end of the summer. Here’s to trying.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

King


Stephen King

The next book on my list is Stephen King. Literally. Every Stephen King novel is on my book list this year. All 56 (soon to be 58 since he is releasing 2 new books this year) are on my list. To say the least, I’m anxious.

           My dad handed me Firestarter when I was 9 years old. I was really in to horror as a child. I loved Goosebumps by RL Stine and I had started reading Fear Street, also by RL Stine, until my dad gave me that first Stephen King book. I finished it in 4 days. I don’t know what came over me. I was consumed by the story. Looking back I don’t even k now if I completely understood what was going but his writing kept me going page after page. The next thing I knew I had finished Christine, Pet Sematary and The Shining. King became an essential part of my library.


The only place I was truly lacking in my Stephen King journey was The Dark Tower series. I conquered that battle last year and what a battle! The story of Roland, the Gunslinger, is a difficult one but it was an amazing series. King commented on the series being his Lord of the Rings, his magnum opus, his great work! Stephen King has stated “I am coming to understand that Roland's world (or worlds) actually contains all the others of my making...” He has even included characters from his other novels into the Dark Tower Series. Fans of his writing have made many connections with his series and his other novels. It’s obvious that he is pulling from the same place for all of his work. He draws attention to it in the series by even naming some of his other works and mentioning his old pen name, Richard Bachman. He wants his fans to understand his stories completely. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I am reading all of Stephen King’s novels. I want to watch his creative world come together. I want to see the characters come to life and watch how they unfold is his creative world.

So far this year I have read both Carrie and Salem’s Lot. The next on my list is The Shining, one of his most well known novels. Interestingly enough one of the main characters in the Dark Tower Series played a vital role in Salem’s Lot. There was also a strange man in black mentioned in character that I think I’m supposed to pay attention to. Hmmm…I’m starting to feel like I’m collecting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or better yet it’s a Stephen King scavenger hunt!