I think before I start this review I need to begin with two disclaimers. The first, I’m not a fan of Stephen King. I’ve read a couple of his books and they just doesn’t wow me. I don’t hate his books, but I don’t really read them unless they’re one of the few choices in some beach rental and I’ve forgotten any other reading material. To give you an idea, I stopped reading Salem’s Lot about halfway through because I got bored and didn’t feel like slogging through the resto of the book to get to the plot. My other issues is that I don’t find his stories particularly memorable, while he does craft strong images those images, and the plots and characters of his novels, don’t really stick in my brain. I can read one of his books and completely forget that I’ve read it less than a week later.
The second disclaimer is that this is not the first time I’ve read this book. I read it back when I was a freshman in high school. I don’t remember much about it beyond that I read it, but I do remember thinking that I maybe ought to try it when I was older, and the series was finished, because I didn’t really like it, but I was kind of intrigued by it. Plus I had the sneaking suspicion that there was some grown-up secret that other people were in on and I wasn’t. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to pick this back up, along with the rest of the books in this series, since that first reading and I just kept putting it off (see above how I’m not really a fan of Stephen King). As the movie is coming out and The Sword and Laser picked this as the August book I decided now was the time. Unfortunately, that grown-up secret that reveals to me how amazing King and his writing are once again failed to materialize and I’m unimpressed. For a long time I was stuck at the halfway point, staring at the first few words of the next section in the book and then going to find something else to do. I hate feeling like that, reading is one of my favorite things and this book made it feel like a chore. And yet for some reason I felt a lot more guilty about abandoning it then I do other books and so I actually did finish it.
And that is my long winded explanation of why this book just wasn’t for me. I could go into detail about how much the random (very 1970s) sexism really bothered me. Or I could talk about how I didn’t find the writing all that appealing, the prose is a more than a little purple. But honestly it really comes down to the fact that I just don’t like the book. It bored me, and it took a lot to push through.
There isn’t much of a plot, not really. It’s four short stories that have been combined into a novel, so technically there are four plots, but even that is pretty tenuous. In fact, the plot could easily be summed up with the opening line “The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” Along the way the gunslinger encounters various people, and does some things that makes me wonder if he’s actually the hero of this piece.
I am probably just going to skip the rest of the books. Maybe if I have some random free time and I have all of them for free then I might read them again, but right now I’m pretty good with not finishing them. It’s a fine novel, just not for me.