Archive | Horror

The Regulators | Richard Bachman

Bachman’s been referred to as King without a conscience. The Regulators certainly fits this description. Released concurrently with King’s Desperation, Regulators deals with the same cast of characters in an alternate reality. The entire book is essentially one big blood-bath.

The fast-paced excitement is also the problem with this book. With only one chapter of character development to set up the story, you’re taken on a thrill-ride with one-dimensional people you just can’t seem to care about.

The story’s redeeming value for me was the tie-in with the Dark Tower myth. The villain, Tak, is clearly a creature from the space between worlds (although it’s not made clear in the text). The alternate version in King’s Desperation supports the Dark Tower’s multiple universes idea.

The book’s exciting, but the day after I finished it, I’m already forgetting the characters. Hopefully Desperation will prove to be a little more substantial.

The Passage | Justin Cronin

  • The Passage © 2010
  • Doubleday Canada: Random House
  • 766 pages

I have to agree with most of the other reviews on this book. It’s an interesting take on the vampire motif that grabbed you at the beginning, slowed down a bit in the middle, and ramped up at the end.

Many people compare it to Stephen King’s The Stand. I see the comparisons, you shouldn’t expect the same reading experience here. The Stand delves further into the minds of the characters than Cronin manages. Also, the ending of The Stand is far more odd and satisfactory than the somewhat predictable ending of The Passage.

The Passage is a great read, though. It’s the first in a series, so maybe I’m judging the story arc prematurely. I’m looking forward to see if Cronin can keep the series interesting. He’s sure created a fascinating world with a lot of questions to be resolved.

Under the Dome | Stephen King

Stephen King’s at his best when he lets the page-count roll freely and the cast of characters climb. That’s why I decided to give this book a try. It’s the first new King book I’ve read since Volume VII of The Dark Tower.

This book answers a question: what would happen if your small community was completely cut off from the outside world. In a sense, it’s akin to Lord of the Flies. In both books you watch society degenerate in isolation. In particular, I loved King’s grasp of religious fundamentalism and the blind hypocrisy it generates. His command of the subculture right down to it’s clichés was masterful (“Wanna get kneebound with me?”).

While the plot wasn’t too involved, it did move along briskly. I would have liked to see more about the dome’s origin (sorry about the cryptic sentence—I’m trying not to let any spoilers slip). However, the ending was well foreshadowed and this story was about the townsfolk.

This was a solid effort from one of the masters.

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The Green Mile | Stephen King

This is more than generic horror: It’s a human story that makes you question your views and values. Does a death-row inmate deserve respect? Is capital punishment justified at all? What is the significance of the electric chair when it just speeds up the inevitable? Is human vengeance ever warranted?

I thought this book might loose something by being released in serial format. Now I’m convinced that its progressive released helped the story. In order to draw the reader back into the story each installment, King used a frame-narrative. An old man in a home for the aged spends the entire book writing out his memoirs (which become the book). In the end, the frame-narrative and the main story interact in marvelous ways.

King is prolific enough to have some stinkers under his belt (like Rose Madder). Fortunately, most of his work shines. While this story doesn’t quite stand up to the scope of The Stand or The Dark Tower, The Green Mile (along with his other prison narrative: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) is one of his best.

Black House | Stephen King & Peter Straub

Having just finished The Talisman, I decided to jump into the sequel. This book surpasses its predecessor in every way possible. The writing style is mature and polished. The horror is truly horrifying. The plot is captivating. The character development is rich, without slowing the pace of the narrative.

To make things even better, there are no subtle allusions to the world of the Dark Tower: it’s explicitly part of the plot. Hearing about the beams, the Crimson King, the Gunslinger, and the breakers all over again brought me right back into that world.

If that last sentence made no sense, you should really read the Dark Tower books followed by The Talisman before opening up this one. It’s worth the time.

Now we wait for the anticipated third book of the trilogy.

The Talisman | Stephen King & Peter Straub

I took a break from Stephen King for a while after finishing his brilliant Dark Tower heptalogy (yes, I had to look that word up). Having heard that The Talisman dealt with similar themes, I decided to give this King/Straub work a chance. It was quite interesting.

If you’re new to these works, the theme centers on a plurality of worlds that some people can flip between. Traveling Jack, the hero of The Talisman is one such person.

There were moments that really shone, such as the depiction of ultimate evil as an evangelistic preacher and the sensation and subsequent rejection of being God.

As a stand alone book, it’s a little weak—a bit of an overdone quest story. As someone in Dark Tower withdrawal, this novel brought me right back to the world of the gunslinger.

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