Time to do some quick reviews again, because I haven’t done one since February (wow!) and how will you guys know what to read? There aren’t any book review sites anywhere on the internet!
By Stephen King
Characters: 2 Writing 7 Story 1
Yeah, Stephen King came out with a new book. I was very excited for this since it’s about Danny Torrence after the events of THE SHINING (which will forever in my home be known as The Shinning), but that excitement was tempered. His recent works have been hit or miss, and mostly miss at that. On one hand you have FULL DARK, NO STARS, filled with one incredibly good novella and three very decent ones, and then there’s 11/22/63 which wasn’t very memorable. In regards to Dr. Sleep, surprisingly enough for a book that’s over eight hundred pages long, there’s not a lot going on with it. The writing is as rich and absorbing as ever, but the plot takes FOREVER for anything to happen and the characters, even Dan, are bland as white bread. Honestly, the character thing could probably be forgiven (see the next section for why) but again, the plot is just non-existent. The first half of the book is nothing but the main characters, Dan and a similarly gifted girl named Alba, doing stuff. Literally all it does is set up for the second half of the book where there’s actually stuff going on. But it’s Stephen King, so people will still buy it.
Characters 4 Writing 7 Story 7
Another one by Stephen King. I got this one last Christmas (I think) and yes, I’m only just getting around to reviewing it. Oh well. I don’t think it hurt him any. Anyway, I think this was a much stronger effort than the above Dr. Sleep, and not only because it’s like half the length. The story is tight, surprisingly not horror, and with only a trace of supernatural in the supposed haunting of the above named Joyland, an amusement park. It’s really along the lines of a mystery with a touch of thriller, and I have to admit it surprised me in places (in a good way, too). The only downfall is the main character, who is flatter than the screen you’re reading this on. It doesn’t detract terribly from the story, which is interesting and most enjoyable, but it is rather disappointing considering that the other characters have more oomph to them. He’s our POV guy and he just seems like a lovestruck teenager there to witness what’s going on. Kind of a shame, but definitely a better read than Dr. Sleep.
Characters 2 Writing 4 Story 5
By Christina Baker Kline
In a nutshell, this book is about two orphans, one from the thirties (who was on the eponymous orphan train) and the other from two years ago and stuck in foster care. It wasn’t a terrible book, but the fact that it’s very short probably helps things. Both the characters and the writing are weak, and the overall story is just average. The modern day orphan, Molly, dresses as and says she’s a goth, but the author obviously has no idea what goths are (at best, she’s emo). And because she’s caught trying to steal a book from a library, she gets threatened with juvie instead of just being kicked out, because that’s realistic. It does mean she has to do community service at a crotchety old lady’s house, whose past on the orphan train (an actual thing, scarily enough) makes up the other POV. It’s the alternating POV that probably saves this book. Neimh/Dorothy/Vivian in the past is a far more interesting and likable character. People also don’t always automatically hate her when they meet her, like they do with Molly for some reason. Seriously, everyone hates this girl except her foster father and her boyfriend, the latter of whom is kind of a jerk and I have no idea why they’re together because all they do is fight.
I Know This Much is True
Characters 10 Writing 9 Story 7
By Wally LambFinally, something I can recommend. Be warned: this book is eight hundred and fifty pages long and is character driven, meaning there isn’t much plot. However, don’t take it as similar to Dr. Sleep. This book is one hundred percent about who Dominick Birdsey and his schizophrenic twin Thomas are. It also happens to be one of the more realistic uses of schizophrenia in literature, showing Thomas as an oversensitive child, paranoid teenager, and crumbling (although not incapable) adult. Dominick, an angry, depressed man who struggles to take care of his brother, also gets his hands on his grandfather’s autobiography about a “great man from humble beginnings”. Seriously, the man writes about himself like that. Anyway, if you like character driven stories or literary fiction (and don’t mind the word count), pick it up.