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When I started re-reading this recently for the second time, I'll admit I was a little worried. I could not really remember much about the plot and that did not bode well as usually I can remember all of his books and what they are about. Still, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised and this is actually a very clever and original novel that combines King's normal scares with a sci-fi plot concerning alien invaders coming to land in the remote woodlands of Maine.
Four friends come together in their childhood to save a downs syndrome child from being tormented and this act of benevolant altruism has an affect that lasts them through all the rest of their adulthood. From then onwards, each of the four seems to posess some kind of limited psychic ability that enables them to "see the line" and this has repercussions for each of them personally as they attempt to merge this ability with their everyday lives.
On their annual hunting holiday in the woodlands of Maine, the four hear tales of missing hunters and mysterious lights but dismiss them out of hand. Jonesy and Beaver, two of the friends, stumble across one of the missing hunters and lead him to their cabin- not realising that this is one of the very worst things they ever could have done! The hunter appears confused, thinking it is about a couple of weeks earlier than it actually is, and suffers from some of the worst flatulence ever experienced. And when he dies on the toilet, his body gives up a frightening force that is obsessed only with its own survival!
Meanwhile Henry and Pete, the other two friends, are returning from the local store when they encounter another of the hunters and crash their SUV. Leaving Pete behind badly injured, Henry goes for help but becomes increasingly aware that something bad is going down and that all of his friends are now in danger! On the other side of the woods, US forces are gathering with the intention of containment following the crash of an alien spacecraft infected with something called Byrum; which the army have labelled "Ripley" in a nod to the Alien movies. But the byrum is just the beginning......there is also a breed of alien parasite which closely resembles Ridley Scott's chest-burster and it has a very unique way of exiting the human body as Jonesy, Beaver and Peter soon discover!
Colonel Kurtz, the leader of the military force who bases himself on the character from Apocolypse Now and is every bit as insane, is determined to keep news about the invasion a secret and begins confining any humans that he believes have been infected. He becomes very interested in Henry and his friends especially when Jonesy escapes the quarrantine, intent on his own mission and now possessed by Something Else he recognises as "Mr.Gray". Suddenly it all becomes a race against time as the future of all humanity is put at great risk and only one person seems able to save it. That person is Duddits, the downs syndrome lad the four boys once saved themselves, and it soon becomes clear that that one simple act of kindness has very far reaching and serious consequences for the future!
This is something of an ambitious novel and the first that King completed following his infamous accident that almost left him dead way back at the beginning of the decade. With plenty of nods towards all manner of sci-fi movies from the past, some of which I have mentioned, the book is a bit of an oddity featuring elements familiar to fans of The Tommyknockers but with much more of King's trademark scares included. But it is a bloody good and engrossing read that does not disappoint!!
Set around Derry, there are also lots of references to It, King's greatst novel to date, Pennywise the clown and events that occurred in the closing chapters of that book that will leave knowing fans nodding and smiling just as they did in Tommyknockers. More subtle is a couple of references to the number 19, which features heavily in King's Dark Tower series! Certainly there is lots here for hardcore Stephen King fans to enjoy.....
But, with much of the action taking place at times solely in Jonsey's head, the book has a surreal element that may cause some readers to tune out and drop this like a hot potato. For that reason, it may not be for all readers though it is certainly a book that I enjoyed and has much relevance to the experiences King had during his own painful recovery process.
Does it entirely work? There are times when I am not so sure but, taken as a whole, there is little doubt that this is far from the worst thing he has written! Amongst my personal favourites now I can actually remember it, Deamcatcher is written at times in a similar style to Hearts Of Atlantis but the more fantastical element played down there has a much bigger influence here!
Overall, this is a book you will either love or hate- there is no inbetween- and, for me, is one I would have no problem reading again!
Stephen King has never been an author I have sought out, but if I happen to come across a book of his which appeals from the blurb on the back then I'll take a look. Some of his books I have enjoyed immensely and others I've hated, he is my Marmite.
I bought Dreamcatcher from the charity shop some time ago and decided to start reading it last week, I can honestly say this is the best Stephen King book I've ever read; from the first I cared about the characters and empathised with all they went through. While I found the novel gory in places it's certainly from a more humane angle than his earlier works such as Pet Sematary or Salem's Lot, it has a psychological slant and dwells on people's reactions to events more than actual bloodshed.
Jonesy, Henry, Beaver and Pete have been friends since childhood. Every year they go on a hunting trip in a huge woodland in Maine, staying at a hunters cabin owned by one of them. Jonesy has recently been in a car accident in which he almost died so for this reason this years trip is even more of an important event, Jonesy and Beaver go off shooting deer while Henry and Pete head to Gosselin's Store for food supplies and beer to see them through the approaching storm.
In the woods Jonesy comes across a man who is lost and has become ill in the woods, he takes him back to the cabin to get warm when the man suddenly becomes more and more poorly. Just when Jonesy and Beaver, who has returned from his own hunting position, decide it's time to get the man help the army helicopters arrive to quarantine the area.for unknown reasons. Henry and Pete are having a similar experience with a woman they almost run down in the road, she is obviously suffering the same illness as the man Jonesy is nursing.
The story progresses into a struggle for survival for all four of them, they don't all make it and this becomes apparent early on in the story but the strength of each of their characters enables the others to carry on not only saving their own life but eventually the lives of every person in the state. Did I mention the book is about aliens and the four men all have a form of ESP? There is so much going on in this novel that it's exciting throughout, the storyline is interesting and it's told in such a way that however preposterous you find the idea of aliens there's always a little part of you asking 'what if?'.
There's another important character I must tell you a little about, Duddits. He is a boy they saved from bullies when they were all children, Duddits has Downs Syndrome but the boys are drawn to him and they all become firm friends. Over the years they have grown out of touch with Duddits but each of them are increasingly having thoughts of him, which eventually they link to the alien invasion and seek this gifted mans help. I cannot really say more about Duddits, he's an integral part of the story but there are so many twists and turns surrounding him that anything I say could spoil the surprises learned about this character. Needless to say, King has produced an extremely recognisable Downs character without ever being cruel or generalising too much about his illness.
All of the characters are very strong in Dreamcatcher, I particularly like the story behind Henry Devlin who is a tormented soul. A psychiatrist who recently lost one of his obese patients to a heart attack after belittling him during his counselling session, although King doesn't dwell on the guilty emotions Henry must be feeling he brings it across by giving him suicidal thoughts. I enjoyed this characters development because as the threat from the aliens grew worse so his self preservation instinct kicked in and he became a driven and slightly deranged man on a mission.
Jonesy was also a very interesting character in lots of ways, he is ultimately the most expressive role in the novel as it is he who becomes intimately involved with the aliens. King has given him a little-boy-lost personality but he is a thinker and it's through Jonesy's thoughts and solutions that the novel is able to progress at such break neck speed.
The 'baddie' in Dreamcatcher, Abraham Kurtz, is a high ranking officer in the military and it's his job to contain the aliens and keep the news of the invasion out of the public domain. He has his own harsh ways of dealing with the situation and is portrayed as a mildly mad but extremely malevolent character. Definitely madman rather than supernatural being, but King has made this character as scary as any monster in his previous novels.
Most of the action takes place within the woods, but this area is so huge that the characters are able to be separated and as the reader we can see each of them going their own way but at the same time drifting towards one another. I particularly enjoyed the thread of the story which recounted the hunt for Jonesy by Henry, there were other reasons for Henry's pursuit but the love between these two men was refreshing and really made me believe that a friendship this deep would surely make everything alright again.
There are lots of flashbacks in Dreamcatcher as the friends' remember their shared childhood, as the present crisis deepens they rely more and more on snatched memories of simpler and happier times. The flashbacks are done in a way that they add to the story rather than distract from it, I never felt they intruded in the pace of the novel and helped me to better understand why certain people acted in different ways. They also introduce Duddits into the story, which is great as he doesn't physically appear until much later on but the build up to his arrival is so good that I couldn't wait to meet this sweet and special man.
I thought this was a wonderful novel; interesting and exciting with a good level of tension throughout. While the story is fairly slow to begin with it soon picks up speed and within a few short chapters it's become fast paced and continuously shifting between the perspectives of the main characters. There are a few stories told within this one novel and they all overlap and wind around each other, amazingly all coming together in the final couple of chapters to leave no loose ends whatsoever. I was so disappointed when I finished this book that I immediately went to the library for another Stephen King novel that I've heard good things about, Duma Key.
Dreamcatcher help my attention throughout and kept me awake late several nights running as I read 'just one more chapter' or 'I'll just find out what happens to Henry next' before putting out the light. The main thing is that I cared about the characters, they were written in as ordinary men who happen to have strange gifts and at no point did I grow weary of their chatter or reading about how they acted when odd events began to occur around them. Indeed I found their naivety rather endearing because as the reader I could see how events were being mapped out, but they were insulated from the outside world and were initially confused before eventually grasping their fate and working together to form an alliance against both the aliens and human bad guys.
You can buy a copy of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher for £5.99 from Amazon which I think is a bargain price for such an exciting and entertaining read.
As a very brief aside, I got so hooked on the adventures of Jonesy and his friends that I popped along to Ebay and against my better judgement bought the 2003 movie adaption of the book. The review is to follow, but to sum up my thoughts on the film: DON'T BOTHER.
Dreamcatcher is a hard book to make your mind about because of the author's name, fame and reputation. Stephen King is undoubtedly one of the best horror authors of our time, acclaimed both by the public and by the critics.
However, Dreamcatcher marked a point in this author's career and you can tell that just by reading the first chapter of the book. In this alien novel, four friends meet up with Douglas (Duddits), a mentally challenged kid who sees the line. Stephen King constantly makes references in his books about such a thing, so what's different in this one?
Well, for one, the pace is very different to his usual pace, his rapport isn't gone but it's not quite the same, it's not as enthralling. One can say that maybe he wanted to make a more serious book but he's done plenty of that before. It might have something to do with the fact that he had an accident right before writing the book which has apparently changed his entire outlook on life.
The book isn't bad, though, if you're willing to forget who is writing it, if you're not constantly comparing it King's old style - while that is there, the stream-of-conciousness that isn't really s tream of conciousness remains, the book ends up leaving a sweet taste in your mouth, something some people think a Stephen King book should never do.
I'd say give it a try but remember you're reading a book by any author, not by the King you're used to and know and love.
The plot of Dreamcatcher is reminiscent of 'It' in that it's set in Derry Maine and revolves around childhood friendships, facing and overcoming your fears and redemption. Unfortunately that is where the comparison ends, it is not a good as 'It' and probably would benefit from some cropping of the 597 pages as the middle sags losing pace. It is still an interesting read despite this; I am always willing to give King the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fiction. The four main characters are believable and engaging and you do care what happens to them, some of their expressions are a bit silly, but you can overlook this if you try. Four childhood friends, now men, meet for their annual hunting trip. When a storm blows in and a stranger staggers out of the woods you just know the monsters can't be far behind and that their past is interwoven somehow with current events. Strange lights in the sky, vivid recollections of an heroic childhood act and a shady, mad, bad, dangerous to know government agent or two all help to make this book worth a read.
Its light in the sky time again as Stephen King drags us back into those woods again for a little more scaring. It does retread some of the Tommy Knockers territory although its no where near as original as my fav King read so far. The first two hundred of the overly long six hundred page read are the usual King character study and scene setting which I really don’t like with this author. Its slow to get up to gear as we follow and find out about four middle age friends who get together once a year for some serious hunting. The guys commemorate an event from their child hoods that at the time changed their lives, and would indeed be re lived as they meet up in the Maine woods outside of Boston for one more time. But this time its no ordinary November the eleventh as events are set to recall that faithful day all those years ago. The boys are out shooting deer when an old man acting weird stumbles into their serene beer-drinking trip. But the guy has stories of lights in the sky and some severe flatchelance that really does smell fishy. The old man is not on his own out here as the guys run into others from his hunting party that also have problems with their botties. Deep in the woods a hard ass military man is trying to contain a situation that could threaten more than a few hunters going through a mid life crisis. He to is very interested in the lights in the sky as he’s seen them many times before, and doesn’t like anyone else to tell tales. The ancient spooky forests of America are no strangers to these mystical dancing illuminations. As the title of the book suggests, anything can happen in the old Indian lands. Something’s out there, and it’s a threat to national security. The middle of the book drags and reads like a 60s acid trip. You begin to fast and speed read if your not his biggest fan to see an end to the mammoth book, especially if you are lumping the hard back around like I ha
ve for an age. Theirs lots of Kingesque flashbacks as past and present are woven into the plot. That is ok if the author doesn’t disjoint the read by bunging in more irrelevant character development. One doesn’t want to know about old ladies at this point, but where the PCP plot of the book is going to go. Im sure after Stephen Kings road accident, he may have been experimenting himself up in small town Maine where he lives and writes, boy does it show. Unusually for King,he puts real life names and events into the sub text to bring his work into the real world that you can relate to.One can almost sense some bitterness here to the world that put him in a wheel chair.You just don’t expect him to mention the Bosnian / Kosovan conflicts. For all the quality here in writing and plot, the book is subjugated and messy with the reader wanting it to finish well short of the half brick it is in your rucksack, grrrrrrr. The last third of the book re-unites the books three protagonist groups in a battle to defeat the evil against the odds. No it’s not Bin Laden or Jeremy Sprake.The guys retarded friend from their childhood seems to have the unlikely solution. Theres a cheeky reference to the authors brilliant IT in this book as it follows the same themes of reliving terror from the childhood. But I have to be honest and say it was a real chore reading this and im still a fan of Dean Koontz more frantic style over Kings fastidious scripting and plot. The dust sheet is interestingly full off acclaim for everything but the book Its hiding if you look carefully I would only recommend it to intricate readers who like detailed plot and character. King heads will love it and won’t hear of my peasant critic im sure. But im telling you know that this wont be a movie starring Tom Hanks or Tim Robbins.More like a TV special with Gary Busey and one of the old Charlie’s Angels. <br> <
After reading Dreamcather, by Stephen King, I was very pleased. It is different from novels he has written in the past, in that his writing style seems more mature. He also has more detail in this novel than I've seen before in his writing. He describes how the red mold from the aliens affects humans by growing in their system and creating a huge worm with teeth that has only one thing to do... kill. He parallels some of the characters to events which have occurred in his own life (i.e. the car accident a few years ago). Jonesy, the main character in the group of civillians in this novel, was struck by a car which was being driven by an elderly schoolteacher. Readers really have to pay attention to catch the events which he included in the story. For example, at one point, there is an inscription in a building in Derry, Maine, which is linked to "It", also by Stephen King. I feel it is very rewarding to finish a novel and know that you found something the author placed in it conspicuously so you would have to be alert to catch it. I think maybe King does this on purpose to reward his loyal fans, which I am one. I could not put this book down. It was one of his best novels yet. I can't wait to start reading another one of his novels. Although I do not think they will have moldy aliens who are trying to inhabit our planet and destroy humans, His novels are something to look foward to.
I've now read practically every Stephen King book to be had and this is one of my favourites. It's not so much horror as sci-fi with suspense. It tells the tale of four boys who perform an heroic deed that changes their lives forever. Everything they do in life after this is affected by a young man with down-syndrome. The story is split into two parts, the first being an introduction to each of the four characters and the second a race against time to save mankind from an alien invader. It's got a feel-good start with the bonding of five young friends with big plans for the future and the promise to stick together. However, as always they grow apart and only get together once a year for their annual hunting trip. Unfortunately the depression sets in with age and when they meet for what is to be their final hunting trip, all have problematic lives. Enter the aliens. Chaos ensues and there's a good build-up to the climatic end of part one. Part two then introduces some new characters, an alien survivor, a crazy army commander and a few red-fur covered escapees. The climax to the story is nail-biting and had me on the edge of my seat. It's a must for anyone who enjoys Stephen King's descriptive style of writing and enjoys being drawn into the life of his characters. I found it very hard to put down. As usual there's a little something for everyone, aliens, scary parasitic monsters, lifetime friendship, social issues, physic powers and lot's of snow! If you've ever had a really bad stomach-ache and a fear of alien invasion you shouldn't be reading this book!
I had never heard of a DREAMCATCHER before and thought that it was something Stephen King made up. A couple of weeks after reading the book, we went to Blackpool on holiday and visited Lytham St Anne's on the last day. We walked through a shopping mall and found a shop selling all sorts of weird and wonderful things. I turned round and found.... a DREAMCATCHER! How SPOOKY! This is the BEST piece of King's work in all the years I have known him. It was the easiest book to read and I felt as though I was actually in there with the characters. Wonderful imaginative and creative story. Loved it
Dreamcatcher is Stephen Kings latest novel which blends classic horror with touches of the X-Files built in. A kind of cross between the Stand and The Tommyknockers. Four childhood friends united by secrets are caught in a quarentine zone when someting crashes into the remote forests of Maine. Two die quickly but will the other two survive the alien fungi or be torn inside out by alien ferrets, be posessed by alien minds, or be used and killed as pawns by a macho egostical psychotic military commander? The Earch is is peril but much of the book is taken up by the exploits of the survivors. How can their secret help to save the Earth ? Synopsis Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes very funny this is a story of invasion and battle, survival and heroism. It is a story of how men remember... and how they love. Once upon a time, in the haunted city of Derry (site of Stephen King's IT and Insomnia), four young boys stood together and did a brave thing; something that changed them in ways they hardly understand. A quarter-century later, the boys are men who have gone their separate ways although they still get together once a year, to go hunting in the north woods of Maine. But this time a man comes stumbling into their camp, lost, disoriented and muttering about lights in the sky. Before long, these old friends will be plunged into the most remarkable events of their lives and a terrible struggle with a creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their past and in the boys they once were.
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors. I have read every fiction title that he has written and l have never been disappointed. Perhaps my only criticism is that l have difficulty putting his books down and end up loosing sleep until l have finished the current read. Dreamcatcher is a story about four friends who are now in their mid thirties, but have been friends since they first started school. As usual with Stephen King (SK), things are not straightforward. When the friends were young they helped save 'Duddits', a downs syndrome sufferer from, bullying bordering on torture by older boys. Duddits has a special psychic gift that his new friends acquire in a mild form through their friendship with him and is perhaps a major reason why they have remained friends despite having gone their separate ways as they grew older. Their friendship is maintained by a yearly reunion in November when they meet up to go off hunting for a week together. SK in his usual style develops his characters by moving from the present to the past, to reveal events that have been decisive in determining their development into their present day selves. The present day story concerns the contact between the friends and alien invaders. As usual SK weaves you deeper and deeper into the lives of his characters, so that they become real, three-dimensional people. That less of them survive than usual was perhaps a surprise, l was expecting some twist in the tale, that would lead to their survival. This is however a nearly 600 page read, that draws you into the story. The more you read the harder it is to stop and put the book down. Without revealing what happens, the story revolves around friendship, alien invasion and psychic powers. It includes SK's usual insights into facets of human behaviour that help to make the characters human. Including the inhuman Mr Grey, who with a little help develops a taste for bacon, which he l
ater regrets! I dont intend to reveal any more of the plot. Read it for yourself, you won't be disappointed. One last point. The cover price of this book in hardback is £17.99. Most of the major book chains are discounting the book by £4.00, but if you have an ASDA supermarket near you, the price is £9.99.
Pick up a Stephen King novel and you're guaranteed a mind-bending jaunt into a wonderful parallel universe. Until Dreamcatcher, I would have agreed with that. One just needs to read Dolores Claiborne or the like in order to observe his pure talent. So what happened this time? Was it the effects of alcoholism on the author, or perhaps blame should be levied at his tendency to become over familiar with his special. . Hahumm. . ciggies, or maybe he is still recovering from his own near-death experience?. . . But talk about dragging it out. 200 of the whopping 599 pages could have been lopped off this novel. Then, and only then, would the usual King tingle and nerve-ending anticipation have stood a chance of really coming through. Now, don't get me wrong, the story idea is wonderful, even if titbits have been somewhat 'borrowed' from elsewhere, but did it really have to be so complicated and drawn out? The notion of a group of male kids protecting a Downs Syndrome child from the bullies is wonderful, even extending their friendship over 3 decades is fine; binding them with a thread of ESP works for me too, but intergalactic invading fungus, complete with Dracula-style teeth, lights in the sky and 'set' in the woods. Tut, tut. Shame on Mr King. If I wanted to see 'Aliens' again I would turn the video on; I don't expect to read it in a King novel, especially when Ridley Scott did it far, far better. The plot of Dreamcatcher is just too complicated and the characters too numerous. I want a story to entertain me, to stretch my imagination, not give me the symptoms of a dry headache akin to the morning after. The story is self-indulgent, rampant and sprawling, and in places out of control, especially when one has to remember the details of: the (main) protagonists man in the woods entity in residence in one's own brain a masochistic military leader & his deputy
body-snatching fungus the woman in the road the man at the shop ESP astral-connections the woman who committed suicide in the reservoir the impregnated dog and let's not forget bacon butties and the President - or even the conduit, Duddits (Douglas), his mother, her husband and the Scooby-Doo lunch-box. Confused? I was! It's just a great pity that the complexity of the novel failed to reach climax. For simplification, here's the synopsis. . .five friends share a spiritual and communicative connection from boyhood. Twenty-five years later and while four of them are 'a-hunting-in-the-woods-don't-ya-know' an alien fungus arrives which needs a living host. But it's cold and they start to die. One fungus mutates when it comes across a 'special' (of course it's one of the protagonists) host. It devises a plan to procreate and then the chase is on. ..add the military, area-wide ESP, exploding heads and orifices for twists and turns, a virtual ticking clock for build-up and you've got the plot of Dreamcatcher. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself 'Surely it's not all bad'. Well, it is and it isn't. It is as far as dragging it out goes, but it isn't in terms of the ideas. Now when I refer to 'ideas' in the plot, what I really mean are King's original thoughts, such as the wannabe ET holding Jonesy hostage in part of his own brain while it takes up residence in the remainder. This is terrific, is King, is storytelling. But scary woods, glowing orbs in the sky, "They're here" in Poltergeist-blond-haired-child style? No! No! No! and No! We'll have no plagiarising here. I really must blame Tabitha for this, Tabitha King, that is. She reads all his novels prior to submission. I don't know how this one got through in its present state. It needed to be dramatically edited back to get rid of the chaff in order to s
imply leave the wheat. The story is there, complete and ready, and yes, is as good as King can be but to get it takes too much work. He may be the most prolific and talented of contemporary horror writers but on this occasion I would mark his report card 'Can do better'. Save the eighteen quid hardback price and even the ten quid paperback price, as unless you are a die-hard King fan and need it for your collection, wait and borrow it from the library and only then - if you really must have it - spend your hard-earned cash. It may be 599 pages long but you are being sold the King reputation rather than his usual undiluted talent. The choice, as is said by someone, somewhere, is yours! ~~~~~~ NB I have risked permanent damage to my person by writing this. User (sic) Nikkisly has pre-warned me that yes, I should write a review, but if I write anything untoward about the 'Master' punishment will be swift and absolute ;-) ~~~~~~ This review relates to the paperback picked up outside the UK which is not on general release here as yet. Prices: Amazon: P/B £8.79 (+ P&P) H/B £17.50 (+P&P) Alphabetstreet P/B £10.00 (free delivery) Bol.com P/B £9.00 (free delivery)
Telling the story of a haunting experience in Derry city (will no doubt sound familiar to those who have read King novels in the past no doubt! It certainly did with me!) where a group of young children endured a life changing ‘experience’ that would later be reflected in their adult life hood, this book is very much in keeping with a lot of Stephen King work, and the familiar style of writing is there for all to see. As the Children (now fully grown adults) embark on their annual hunting expedition, the come across a disillusioned man, claiming of lights in the sky and paranormal activity that sets the scene for Dreamcatcher to take the level of bizarreness to new heights, as we soon see men being invaded by ‘aliens’ that spread something of a strange fungus that causes telepathy and other side effect, ultimately ending in a great deal of flatulence! It really is as crazy as it sounds, and only a Stephen King novel could pull this kind of concept off and produce a half decent novel worth the read. Few times in the 600 pages of crazy and at times quite funny content did I find myself thinking “why am I reading this” and I always felt the book was going somewhere, even if at times this direction seemed to change quite drastically. After all, one moment this book is sounding something like another written version of “Men in Black” and other times it is giving a deep thought into friendship and moral standards. This diversity might not suit everyone’s style and taste in books, but for me, it was actually far more enjoyable than I had anticipated, and a worth few hours spent doing what I enjoy – reading a good book. Some people have criticised the high price tag of around £20, although I think the RRP is about £17.99. This can be cut dramatically with a little searching, and I have seen this for sale for under £12, which does represent a bargain indeed. Stephen King, possibly the b
est known horror author around today, and its not hard to see why. In this story of battles, a fight for survival and most of all of friendship we see Stephen King taking the most bizarre concept in a horror book seen for some time, and making it into a truly enjoyable and half-convincing read that I very much enjoyed and certainly would recommend. This is by no means classic Stephen king in any sense of the word, and is very different from some of his ‘better’ works, but nevertheless, this is a good book that I never regret purchasing.
The day Dreamcatcher was released I faced a challenge. I couldn't buy it on the net because I didn't want to wait that long, and the same went for waiting till the paperback edition came out - but how could I avoid the hefty £17.99 price tag? A trip around every bookshop in town (W H Smiths (who sometimes slash the prices of new hardbacks), Ottakars, James Thin, and even in desperation Just Books (long shot) and Book Sale (even longer shot) came out with one clear winner. James Thin £12.99 WH Smiths £14.99 Ottakars £14.99 So clutching my huge hard bundle of the bizarre in both sweaty hands, I headed home. Before I bought the book I had no idea what it is about, having the rule of thumb that any Stephen King book is worth the ride, even if it doesn't come up to the same standard as my favourites: Insomnia and It. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So what is it about? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Unsurprisingly, Maine features. The woods that Maine is famous for to be exact, and that have been central to King's fiction for many years. Unsurprisingly again, from a writer who salts his works with cross-references and repeated themes, the plot involves a group of adults who experience a moment of life-changing collective strength as children. Losers truimphing against bullies seems to thread through King's work, from Carrie onwards. This is the modern day version of good triumphing over evil, probably one of the oldest and most prevalent stories known to humanity. Flashbacks to childhood inform the story right up until the final pages, another classic King technique. Although I felt like I knew practically nothing for most of the book, King's storytelling talents kept me reading, eager to solve the puzzle and find out what the heck was going on. There are monsters to battle in this book, as there are in every King book - in this case heralded by an
ill wind. The worst flatulence I have ever experienced was in a caravan after consuming a lethal and evidently horribly unstable combination of bitter and chilli. If you think that is bad, the gassy and toe-curlingly scary monsters in this book will have you scrambling away from the merest whiff when in a confined space. The other manifestation of the monsters in this book will ensure rocketing sales of Flash Mould and Mildew Cleaner for bathrooms, and the mass emptying of student fridges and breadbins. A fungus infects things and people...with strange and horrifying results. Fart gas from outer space and creepy red fungus are not the only manifestations of monstrousness in King's latest novel. When a space ship is found deep in the woods (remind you of TommyKnockers anyone), and scores of local hunters start to read each others minds (TommyKnock...well you know King), the army is called in. This is another manifestation of the big bully theme that runs through King's work (that man sure has issues). There are shades of Heart of Darkness here, with the homicidally crazy chief even called Kurtz after the malignant character from Conrad's novel (filmed as Apocalyse now). There are shades of Vietnam (another big theme emerging in King's work - see Hearts In Atlantis), with helicopter gunships cutting through the air laden with Kurtz's Imperial Guard and Blue Boy troops, surgically dealing with the problem of alien invasion. Typically, there are other levels to this story. Who is Duddits? What is the mysterious link between the four men we meet at the beginning of the story? What do the aliens want? Will the meeting of minds undermine authority, or make it easier to oppress? Will anyone survive? It astonished me that Stephen King managed to write another novel so soon after his accident. Has the accident change
d the way King writes? Well there is definitely a preoccupation with physical pain. This is probably the most graphically written of his novels. I wouldn't say that King is back on top form yet - but the characters are believable, although none has yet matched up to Ralph Roberts in Insomnia for me - although none of his other characters have ever matched up to Ralph Roberts in my eyes. The common themes are there, the monsters are there, and the "shit weasels" definitely rank up there with some of the most skin-crawling of any in the horror genre. However, I liked this book better than Hearts In Atlantis, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, his two latest offerings. I don't think we will see the last of King for a long time yet, and while this novel is not among his best, it is still a damn good read. Having bought my first hardback King novel, I will not buy paperbacks as a matter of course. I have gone through three copies of It so far - I could have bought a hardback easily for that price, and it would have been easier to weigh down the lid of the toilet when my imagination was running away with me.
Four men, reunited every year since childhood, face something terrible in the woods.