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Humanity Slowly Rotting Away
Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands - Stephen King
Member Name: GoFigure
Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands - Stephen King
Advantages: Well-written, mysterious, captivating story.
Disadvantages: Long-winded, coarse language and repetitive dialogue.
Finally, having managed to survive the beach from hell with its three doors and monstrous lobster creatures from 'The Drawing of the Three', the second book in this extremely long-winded and time-consuming series, Roland and his new companions, Eddie and Susannah [aka Odetta - aka Detta], have taken a bit of time off their search for the Dark Tower in order to recuperate.
During their brief 'time-out', Roland teaches Eddie and Susannah how to shoot, and they learn how to survive in Roland's unfriendly world... which is a good thing, because lurking in the forest just within reach of them, is a bear, who like every other creature in Roland's world, has grown beyond its 'natural' size and possesses a really bad temper.
When Eddie is targeted by the humongous bear from hell, salvation comes in the unlikely form of Susannah... she may not have any legs, but she definitely knows what to do with a gun.
With their lessons learned, the bear as dead as a doorknob and Roland feeling better than ever, the trio carefully make their way to the bear's den, hoping that from there they will be able to pick up the trail to the Dark Tower. Unfortunately for them, nothing is simple in Roland's world, and although they are heading in the right direction, fate is playing another of her mysterious and dangerous games with them... Jake, the young boy who died in Roland's world in the first book, but then was saved from ever entering Roland's world in the first place in the second book, makes yet another appearance in 'The Waste Lands'. Confused? Don't be... it actually makes perfect sense in the books.
Jake, like Roland, is now slowly going insane... he's hearing voices in his head... one voice keeps telling him that he was hit by a car as he walked to school... the second voice is telling him that he obviously never died [after all, he's still breathing isn't he?] and that he must be going crazy... but then he has these strange memories that couldn't possibly be real of Roland and a strange world, and he is plagued by strange dreams...
Roland is also slowly going insane... the voices in his head keep arguing with each other... 'Jake died'... 'you let him die' a voice shouts at him... the other voice tells him 'there is no boy'... but Roland has memories...
Eddie is having dreams. In his dreams he speaks with a boy... a boy named Jake... the boy wants to cross over into Eddie's world in order to be with Roland and to join the search for the Dark Tower...
Susannah, contrary to her two companions, is neither hearing voices nor having dreams, which is probably just as well because that would be an added ten chapters, in the very least...
Although Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' series revolves around some really great characters that are incredibly realistic, and although the story itself keeps you wondering how it's all going to end... unfortunately... the end is nowhere in sight. In fact, there is no end to this book - it just stops in the middle of a chapter, and is followed by a note by the master himself, Stephen King, telling his readers that if they like the third book and want another, and if he's still alive to write a fourth, then he will... at some point.
Now, if I had read this book when it first came out back in 1991 and had turned to the final page only to discover that there was no ending and that the author might or might not write a fourth book, I think I would have been royally pi**ed off. As it is, although a bit annoyed at the way this book ended, I can at least reach for the fourth book which was published in 1997.
Never a great Stephen King fan, I suspect that if I had been a fan back in the early 1990's, and had immersed myself in Roland of Gilead's adventures only to discover that not only did the third book not end, but that there might not be a fourth, I know for a fact that I would have been fuming. I felt, as I read King's note at the end of the book, that it was a bit of a copout, that it wasn't the readers' interest he needed in order to pursue the series, but more was it inspiration that was needed... even he admitted in his author's note in the first two books that he had no idea how it was all going to end, or even what was coming next.
It was ever so obvious during the reading of this 580+ page book that the author didn't really seem to know where it was all going. With the fillers [useless prattle meant to fill up space] increasing in number as I read and beginning to eclipse the story itself, I found myself losing interest and had to put the book down for a few days in order to recuperate from the mind-numbing prattle. I was reminded of the reason I stopped reading King in the first place... the useless jabbering.
I can say, in all truth, that although the story still intrigued me, I found it extremely difficult to finish this book.
Unlike the first book which was much shorter and focused on Roland, or the second book which was, although a bit longer, intriguing enough with its mysterious doors to make you go on regardless of the increasing prattle... 'The Waste Lands', although interesting, would have been a really good book with the fat trimmed off, which, in my opinion, would have amounted to 200+ pages of excess and unnecessary prattle removed. Stephen King obviously does not live by the 'less is more' motto... or even the 'short and sweet' motto. Unfortunately for me, the fourth book in the series [Wizard and Glass] is 840 pages long, and the other 3 books are even longer!
The reason these books are getting longer is because there are more characters - within each chapter there are 'sub-chapters' which are focused on one of the main characters. In 'The Waste Lands', within each chapter are 'sub-chapters' that focus on Eddie's 'dream' world, his 'awake' world, Jake's 'dream' world, Jake's 'awake' world, and then there are portions allocated to Susannah so that the reader can see things from her perspective, and then, of course, there are chapters allocated to the hero, Roland of Gilead, and his recollections of a world long gone - and, let's not forget, there is the story itself that is comprised of all the characters. There's a lot to take on board, and although interesting, sorting through the numerous 'sub-chapters' does tend to become quite a tedious task - not to mention the fact that there is repetition in dialogue because of different character perspectives, but also because a lot of the dialogue has to do with the first two books.
Although I really enjoyed the first two books, this one wasn't as good and I had trouble focusing... at one point I'd actually turned two pages before I realised that I had no idea what I'd just read. When I re-read the pages, I realised I had tuned out because the only thing appearing on these two pages was an extremely long-winded description of a city. I also noticed, as the book went on, King's use of the 'F' word took on a life of its own. King is obviously quite fond of the word, and a few other juicy expletives to go with it...
I have removed the fourth book in the series from the cupboard, but the sheer size of it is putting me off because I know that within this book there will be more 'sub-chapters' and long-winded descriptions of birds, creatures, cities, the weather, and whatever else has managed to capture King's imagination. Reading a Stephen King book is often like listening to a broken record that keeps jumping and repeating the same melody over and over again.
Summary: Roland of Gilead's adventure continues.