Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s greatest resort hotels burned to the ground.

Stephen King once again proves he is the master of this game. This is a sequel to The Shining that is drastically different from it’s predecessor in terms of location, style and execution but in no way at all is it any less of a classic King novel.
Any lover of King will know that King has variations in his style of writing. He can execute bone chilling horror just as well as he tugs at heart strings, and this book is nothing if not an example of the latter.

Daniel Torrance, survivor of the horrors at the Overlook, is dealing with a past that haunts him. The Overlook and everything that happened since has brought him to a point in life where he wants to silence his mind and numb his Shining away by drinking. It wasn’t until hitting rock bottom on a night that will haunt him for years that he decides it’s time to fight his own demons and maybe other people’s as well. This brings him to a town where in time he will meet Abra Stone. A little girl so powerful that she could be dangerous, but blissfully unaware of her capabilities, which makes her a target for a cannibalistic group of soul eaters who prey on children with such powers.

Stephen King said there was some trepidation in writing a sequel to The Shining. His fear being that any classic as good as The Shining is very hard to live up to and chances are a sequel ruins things. He had nothing to fear because years later, even when the world has changed, King’s ability to push boundaries between supernatural and psychological horror has not. I also found myself inwardly squealing at the little nods to NOs4A2 by Joe Hill. When Charlie Manx and Christmasland were mentioned, I felt proud of knowing exactly what King was talking about.

What I wasn’t expecting, especially while reading a King book, was to fall in love. Daniel Torrance is such a beautiful man, and while I’m sure Mr. King won’t appreciate me gushing over his main character, I can’t seem to be able to help myself. The relationship of Dan and Abra is so pure that I was touched. Very few writers, and I mean VERY few writers, could have pulled it off with the beauty that Stephen King did. I’ve never read anything like it. There was so much substance to the story that I felt a deep emotional connection to it. My first instinct after finishing this book was to write a huge fan letter to Mr. King but it turns out I can’t. But needless to say Doctor Sleep is going to be one of my all time favorite Stephen King books and my unrivaled favorite read of 2016.

Have some Doctor Sleep fanart on your way out 🙂

doctor-sleep-art

Favorite Lines:
1. When you couldn’t sleep, when you were afraid to look around because of what you might see, time elongated and grew sharp teeth. (pg. 97)
2. There was something he hadn’t told Emil Kemmer; he was afraid that eventually he would get lost in a maze of phantom nightlife and never be able to find his way out again. (pg. 99)
3. That in turn made him think of some poem or other, one about how you could spend years running, but in the end you always wound up facing yourself in a hotel room, with a naked bulb hanging overhead and a revolver on the table. (pg. 569)

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Review: Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

Review: Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

Doomed
Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: Good and evil have always existed

The story of 13 year old, Madison Spencer stuck in purgatory, otherwise known as earth, after violating her curfew on Halloween, who realizes that a post-alive joke has now resulted in an entire religion in her name.
What can I say about Chuck Palahniuk? If any of you have read him, you’ll know that this man is capable of being intensely profound while absolutely bizarre at the same time. It’s the opposite of sugar-coated bullshit. His true to life narratives are wrapped inside some of the weirdest and hilarious stories I’ve ever read.
I’ve heard criticism based on the novel’s narration. I liked that the book was narrated through the eyes of a dead 13 year old writing a blog to all the good people of hell. A girl that was too cynical and smart-mouthed for her age and yet apparently more sensible than any adult in the story gave it the sense of irony I’ve come to love in Palahniuk’s writing. Keeping in mind that this 13 year old is in fact dead and has been through hell, literally, I’m willing to overlook any perspective that may have felt too mature for her and write it off as experience.
This novel has a great condescending perspective of atheism and religion, while making the entire thing seem like a joke.
To make room for a new world religion, Leonard had stated that all religions had to be discredited. Everything held to be sacred and holy had to be reduced to a joke. No one could be allowed to discuss good or evil without sounding like a fool, and the mention of God or the Devil must be met with universal eye rolling. Most important, Leonard had insisted, intelligent people must be made to feel ashamed of their need for a higher power. They must be starved for a spiritual life until they would greedily accept any that would be offered to them.
He called it. Long before I did. Which is why I was dubious of criticism that said there wasn’t much substance in the story. There were passages that often gave me food for thought and had me smiling in agreement. The following is another example:
The avant-garde in every field consists of the lonely, the friendless, the uninvited. All progress in the product of the unpopular.
People in love – with nurturing, attentive, non-movie-star parents, they would never invent gravity. Nothing except deep misery leads to real success.

In the face of things today, I have to solemnly agree with Mr. Palahniuk

I don’t know what it says about me that a Palahniuk book like this gives me more cause for discussion and debate than most classics do. Maybe it’s my love for the bizarre and macabre that draws me to his style. I know he’s not for everybody. The cover of the book proudly proclaims “Palahniuk doesn’t write for tourists” – The New York Times and I would strongly agree. If you’re looking for a Young-Adult style bed time fairytale, don’t bother trying to read this.

Here is my attempt at cover art for the book:

doomed-cover-art

Favorite Lines:
1. One of the chief torments of Hell is that we all know, secretly, why we deserve to be there. (pg. 10)
2. The dead have better things to do than respond to your dumb-ass Ouija board queries concerning lottery numbers and who’s going to marry you. (pg. 10)
3. Religions exist because people would rather have a wrong answer than no answer at all. (pg. 16)
4. It’s exhausting, the energy it takes to unknow a truth. (pg. 141)
5. You never know the complicated deals two people negotiate in order to stay married beyond the first ten minutes. (pg. 149)
6. When you’re feeling depressed about being dead, duly remember that being alive wasn’t always a picnic. (pg. 173)
7. The buzzwords of her life were tolerance and respect , and she was trapped between them as if crushed in an ideological vise. (pg. 200)
8. Leonard preached that mankind would always long for an organized system of religious beliefs, but, like a scared insecure child, people would hide their need behind a mask of sarcasm and ironic detachment. (pg 253)

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Dragon Tears – Dean Koontz

Dragon Tears – Dean Koontz

Rating: 2 Stars

Opening sentence: Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.

I never know what I am going to get with Dean Koontz.
I have to admit I was taken in by the name of the book expecting a dragon in it, knowing how Koontz likes his paranormal elements, and was sadly disappointed. Reminder to self : do NOT judge a book by it’s cover or title.
This is more like a pass-time read, which is a shame because I know Koontz can and has produced much better. Maybe the reason for my disillusionment was that I am reading this book long after the time it was written in. The story makes constant references to how crazy the 90’s are, reading it in 2016 just makes me wonder when the real craziness will begin.
There are different points of view throughout the story, though the only fully developed personalities and inner narratives seem to come from the protagonist, Harry Lyon, and a dog.
The back story for each character, even the main ones, was short and felt a little lacking. Maybe that was part of the plan to keep the story moving quickly. The story has it’s moments but has a tendency to go from being exciting to just feeling drawn out. I finished the book in little more than two days. partly to find out how it ends and partly to get it over with.
Here is what I will say about the ending without giving anything away, it felt like an anti-climax. The build up of the danger and power of the antagonist felt like it called for a bigger showdown than the one served.
I don’t have any outright complaints about the story, considering the time it was written in, and yet I can’t help but feel a little unsatisfied with it. As a paranormal horror story, which is what it is, it gets a lower rating from me than it would have if it was just a simple thriller.

Favorite Lines:
1. “These were the 1990’s, after all, an age of unreason if ever there had been one, when the bizarre was so common as to establish a new definition of normality” (pg.31)
2. “Only a sliver of blue sky remained to the east, fading as fast as hope usually did” (pg.42)
3. “Each survival was merely a short term triumph. In the end, oblivion for everyone. And in the meantime, nothing but pain.” (pg.89)
4. “These are the nineties, Connie. The premillenium cotillion, the new Dark Ages, when anything can happen and usually does, when the unthinkable isn’t only thinkable but accepted, when every miracle of science is matched by an act of human barbarity that hardly raises anyone’s eyebrow. Every brilliant technological achievement is countered by a thousand atrocities of human hatred and stupidity. For every scientist seeking a cure for Cancer there are five thousand thugs willing to hammer an old lady’s skull to applesauce just for the change in her purse.” (pg.122)