I was one of those people who did not read Stephen King’s books simply because he’s popular. Stephen King attracted the ‘other’ crowd and I was not one of them, until I decided to. Earlier this year, I wanted to read a horror novel and Stephen King, as the blurb on the covers of his book say, is THE ‘King of Horror,’ he was the first of my choices.
Here are his novels I’ve read so far, not including the Dark Tower series.
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man. (Goodreads)
I don’t even know how to begin talking about The Stand. It was my second SK novel and it blew me away. The Stand deserves a review of its own. I don’t think I could explain this novel in short review but one thing to look forward about it is its characters.
The Stand begins with a slow, disorienting start where the reader gets thrown back and forth through different perspectives; from characters you could either like or hate to the growing chaos of an unstoppable virus that spreads throughout the country that gave me restless dreams for days. In this novel, King turns stereotypes into real and relatable people and does not hesitate spending a lot of time building them as troubled, complex characters. Unlike King’s other novels, this novel carries a heavy but profound message about humanity that is somewhat both pessimistic and hopeful at the same time.
Eyes of the Dragon
A fantasy of heroic adventure, set in the kingdom of Delain. It involves a king who is poisoned, a young and beautiful queen, a prince locked in a high tower while his younger brother assumes the throne, and an evil magician who harbors terrible secrets and malevolent plans. (Goodreads)
Reading the Eyes of the Dragon was a jarring and underwhelming experience. King’s voice didn’t fit with the medieval-fantasy setting of the novel and some parts were too good to be true even for a fantasy novel. It reminded me of Stardust, which has similar dark themes and an eerie, casual tone. I’ve read better ones, I told myself. Yet, after finishing it, I realized I wanted more.
In Cell King taps into readers fears of technological warfare and terrorism. Mobile phones deliver the apocalypse to millions of unsuspecting humans by wiping their brains of any humanity, leaving only aggressive and destructive impulses behind. Those without cell phones, like illustrator Clayton Riddell and his small band of “normies,” must fight for survival, and their journey to find Clayton’s estranged wife and young son rockets the book toward resolution. (you guessed it, Goodreads)
While Cell isn’t one of SK’s memorable works for me, it does its job well to keep the pages turning. The story quickly dives into total destruction and the characters are always thinking and acting out their next moves, creating a good solid thriller. I think it would look better as a movie than a book because so much action is going on in here.
College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.
King’s mystery, YA novel. Joyland is alive, brimming with hormones and personality. Despite being a mystery novel, it didn’t entirely dwell on that, but instead, builds up the fun and colorful atmosphere that is Joyland. You could feel the novel.
Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.
Before I went on reading Wolves of Calla, I decided to scan Salem’s Lot because I heard a certain character appears in both books. I ended up reading it whole in two days.
It starts off with this.
“Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.
They crossed the country on a rambling southwest line in an old Citroën sedan, keeping mostly to secondary roads, traveling in fits and starts. They stopped in three places along the way before reaching their final destination: first in Rhode Island, where the tall man with the black hair worked in a textile mill; then in Youngstown, Ohio, where he worked for three months on a tractor assembly line; and finally in a small California town near the Mexican border, where he pumped gas and worked at repairing small foreign cars with an amount of success that was, to him, surprising and gratifying.”
And my eyes just kept absorbing each sentence. I never got tired reading it (not until my eyes started to drop at 6 AM in the morning) and I couldn’t stop myself even though I had to (to eat or take a bath). King did it. I don’t know how he did it but he did well writing this book and ruining my life for two days.
And it’s about vampires! The real, scary ones that exist bringing death and anemia, not like the glimmering, sexy vampires you see these days. I didn’t even think it was about vampires until the characters started pulling out crosses. I was completely clueless when I picked this up and I’m glad I was because I had a bit of leeway wondering what sort of monster King had created.
The main characters are interesting and complex, each with a memorable trait of his own, particularly Father Callahan, Susan, Mark and of course Ben Mears. Callahan is a priest with a drinking problem who is struggling with his faith, Susan is a bright and open-minded woman who has a complicated relationship with her mother, and Mark is a most down-to-earth kid whose feet are practically buried into the earth. Not even the devil could bring this kid down. Ben Mears is your relentless but haunted hero.
Despite being King’s second novel, it was fresh and new to me. The novel is comparable with The Cell’s pace and Joyland’s vibrant tone. It builds the small town and all its drama and nuances. King explores all its nooks and crannies and the people that make it up, portraying a town that absorbs all things, both good and evil, and we read it slowly poison itself with fear and paranoia; Salem’s Lot is a character and you’ll end up rooting for it.
While I read SK’s novels for the horror, I haven’t actually read his famous horror novels (Carrie and IT, particularly). With what I’ve read so far, King’s novels are terrifying not in a horror movie kind of sense, but a horror that is more personal and familiar to our own fears.