Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Dark Half

The Dark Half by Stephen King
Viking - October 30, 1989
431 pages

In 1985, 39-year-old Stephen King announced in public that his pseudonymous alter ego Richard Bachman was dead. At the beginning of The Dark Half, Thaddeus Beaumont does the same. Beaumont's pseudonym is not as docile as King's, though, and he comes back for his revenge.

Spoiler alert: Nonexistent

Ah, this was the perfect cure to the aformentioned bloated mess that was The Tommyknockers. 431 pages of large font, a quick plot, and an amazing execution. I love this book. It's one of my favorite Stephen King books, right up there with such great books as Rage, Cujo, The Eyes of the Dragon, and Misery.

This is in the same category as The Tommyknockers where it was not scary because I knew that it could never happen, but if I were put in the situation I would be running and screaming and naturally going insane with terror.

King brings back one of the things that I loved in Misery, which was the insertion of pieces of the book the protagonist was writing inside the actual book. The parts that were inserted were actually supposed to be of the next Richard Bachman novel, but Bachman was then revealed.

The plot moved extremely quickly, and there were a few tangents, but the story was always brought right back to the central plot so that you would barely notice the tangents if you were reading for fun and not reviewing. Overall, it was excellent.

Grade: A-

The Tommyknockers

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Putnam - November 10, 1987
558 pages

Late last night and the night before,
Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door
I want to go to sleep, don't know if I can
Cause I'm so afraid of the Tommyknocker man

Bobbi Anderson and the other good folks of Haven, Maine, have sold their souls to reap the rewards of the most deadly evil this side of hell.

Spoiler level: Minor

I have no idea what the summary is talking about; they didn't actually "sell their souls" by choice in this book. It was more like Bobbi Anderson found a spaceship in the ground that turned everyone into aliens that were given the name Tommyknockers.

This is one of the Stephen King novels that falls under the category of "bloated". Some of it should have definitely been left of the cutting-room floor and, on this count, I'm going to admit that I am guilty of page-skimming at some points. It wasn't until part two that I really got into it. That was when it got into the stories of the other townspeople, not just the unsympathetic Bobbi Anderson and Jim Gardener.

The Ruth McCausland story, however, was pretty bloated as well. Yeah, yeah, we get it, she was mysteriously killed and everyone's trying to call it an accident but in reality she was murdered by the Tommyknockers, but do we really need over a hundred pages devoted to this nonsense?

While I am calling it a bloated mess, there was also some horror in there. As someone who does not believe in aliens, it wasn't enough to pin me to the sheets with fright, but I always think in a book, "What if I were in this situation?" The answer to The Tommyknockers was run and cry. And then die because you're not allowed to leave Haven or you die.

Grade: C