Newest Review: ... There are a few parts that made me feel a bit queasy, but nothing worse than I have read in other books. Desperation is a mining t... more
Desperation - Stephen King
Desperation - Stephen King
Member Name: cath_del
Desperation - Stephen King
Advantages: Some good characters, concept interesting, tense moments
Disadvantages: Not as gory, too much of characters past, not as good as previous work
Most of Stephen King's work has been on my to read list for quite some time, so I've started to go through all of his books, and when I saw Desperation at my local library, I picked it up to tick one more book of my list! Most of Stephen King's work can be found at libraries or picked up relatively cheap from 1p on Amazon, and Desperation is no exception to this rule.
Desperation is a pretty hefty book at around 730 pages, and was originally printed in 1996. Unlike his other pieces of work like Misery or Gerald's Game, I didn't find it to be that thrilling but on the otherhand I didn't find it as bad as Dreamcatcher. It does grab your attention from the start, but as it progresses it does start to lose your interest and doesn't leave you feeling as satisfied as a good horror novel usually does.
The plot itself is focused in a mining town which is called Desperation, quite a good name for the events that will occur within the town throughout the novel. It is situated in the middle of the desert, and is a small town, where everyone knows everyone and what they do. However, there has recently been some strange things happening in the town, no one is walking around the town and it is suspiciously quiet except from the one police officer who patrols the highway...
One thing I like about this novel is that King sticks to his writing style where he combines 4 different people or families into one storyline. Unluckily for them, in Desperation, the main families/characters are Mary and Peter (husband and wife travelling to their vacation), the Carvers (a family of four doing the same as Mary and Peter) and Johnny Marinville (an alcoholic writer travelling through the desert for interviews for an essay) all come face to face with this policeman who seems like he has no sympathy for them and frames them in a bid to arrest them.
Unfortunately, as most of King's books, this event only leads to misery and despair. In the first half of the book, there are gripping accounts of this police officer with evil entity that seems to be controlling him and what he does to those around him. Shocking twists and experiences that will make you feel so sorry for the victims will have you continuously reading to find out whether they can overcome the evil that this policeman has within.
The first half of the book was definitely my favourite, as they showed the group trying to survive, escape from the police officer and enter a lot of situations where the only thing that might help them have a chance, is faith. One of the main characters, David from the Carver family, recently found God after he believed a miracle was performed on his friend Brian. He becomes really involved within religion and God, and it is using this faith, that he guides the group and the rest begin to realise that it may be him that helps them escape from the nightmare.
The book raises many questions throughout the first half, like will they ever be able to escape from the police officer? Why has he turned into such an evil person? Will they be able to stop it? And is David's faith really what's keeping them alive or is it simply pure luck?
However, I was quite disappointed with the second half of the book, as I didn't think that it had the same pace as the others. It became a bit slower paced throughout this point, and it didn't keep me wanting to read on as much as it had in the previous chapters. They explore more into the characters pasts in this section, and while I think that it does work for King's work e.g. Gerald's Game, I felt it was a bit too much for the characters in this book and much of what we learn about them isn't all that necessary or interesting.
And after sitting through all of the 680 pages of this, I found that I was very dissapointed with the ending, it is not as climatic and well thought out as some of King's other works and it wasn't as interesting as it could have been. It seemed incredibly hurried and not thought out, as after learning about the evil thing in Desperation for 680 pages, it seems like it is simply faced in under 6 pages!
The characters that King has included within Desperation, aren't particularly memorable to me as others have been in previous works, and I think that while you do have sympathy for them and want them to escape, that you'll never want them to escape as much as you wanted Paul Sheldon to in Misery. Many of the characters seem to just fade into the background in my opinion, like Peter, Mary, Ellen and Billingsley as after reading the book I hardly even remembered them.
The two main characters though are clearly Johnny and David, due to the contrast King must have wanted to show between them. David is a religous and innocent boy who believes his faith will get him through everything, however Johnny is quite skeptic about this whole idea and seems to think that things only happen by chance. These two by far have the most interesting character developments by King, and it's good to see characters with interesting stories being developed.
For the most part, King's writing style in this does manage to make you want to read on and learn about the mystery of Desperation, however at times I felt he tried to hard to give you a super indepth look into the characters past, when he should have focused more on what he knows best - making every moment of his novel as tense or gorier than the last.
Overall, I would say that Desperation is not as heavily horror/gore focused as other works by Stephen King, however it does make for lighter reading. It does have some relatively interesting characters that will keep you interested in the storyline and with tense moments throughout the first half, you won't want to put it down. However, the second half is quite slow and the ending isn't as well done as it could be, so I'd say this book is only for those who could stand sitting through around 200 pages of mediocre King writing to get to the ending.
Summary: A novel by Stephen King that while good, could have been much better