I wrote my initial little placeholder review where I promised to have a full review up for this book by the afternoon approximately five minutes before I learned that Carrie Fisher had died, and to be up front about it, that news has completely done a wampus on my head, and the review I’d been planning on writing is now not going to happen, because my brain just wants to be sad right now. I don’t know what I’m about to write about this crazy book.
In many ways, this book is about addiction, but it’s also about finding redemption and new purpose in the hand that you are dealt, and finding solace in those around you.
I was immediately hooked on this book (fittingly enough). From the opening sequence when King maims the right (dominant) hand of his main character, a guy known as The Gunslinger, who can no longer sling his gun while missing his trigger finger, right through to that same character finding three doors lodged in mid-air, through which he can draw three companions to help him on his way to the Tower. (No explanation is yet given for how this can happen, or why Roland thinks it’s no big deal.) The book’s structure appealed to me. It’s split into roughly three sections, one for each of the three companions he will draw, and in between there are “re-shuffles” (there’s this whole deck of cards metaphor going on). And damn, I love a good structure.
There’s this kinda batshit contrast the whole book, between the nightmarish, symbolic hellscape of Roland’s world, where it seems commonplace for horrible, unreal things to happen, and the world he finds on the other side of those doors (our world), which is so normal and mundane to us, and yet so wondrous to Roland. I was endlessly fascinated by the way King played with those contrasts, putting Roland and his strange ways in our world, and Eddie and Odetta/Detta in his. It was playful, and yet also not. Like something out of a dream, but so weirdly real all the same.
I also loved the characters. Eddie Dean immediately crawled his way into my heart (he NEEDS to be played by Aaron Paul in the movie), and I found Odetta/Detta fascinating (but then, I’m always fascinated by dichotomies). The interplay between the two of them and Roland is the heart of the book, and Roland himself is clearly conflicted. He needs them and he grows to love them, but (like an addict) he knows if he has to to get what he wants (the Tower), he will sacrifice them, just like he did Jake in The Gunslinger.
This book was weird and in your face, and I really, really dug it. And if it weren’t for Christmas and my family not letting me just sit by myself and quietly read, I would have probably finished it the day after I started it.
I actually started this book the day Carrie Fisher had the heart attack, and for a while there even though I really thought she might make it, I couldn’t help meditate a little on her life as I was reading about Eddie Dean’s struggles (I also made my family watch The Force Awakens on Christmas, even though my mom doesn’t like “Star War”). I know this sounds dumb, but it sort of felt like as he was getting better and chucking that monkey off his back, that maybe she could, too, one final time. That’s magical thinking for you, though. (Maybe one reason I like this series, CHOCK FULL of magical thinking made real.)
I’ll definitely be finishing this series in 2017, maybe sooner than I thought if I like the rest of them as much as I liked this one.
[4.5 stars, rounding up just because]