Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My worst 5...

In the interest of balance, having posted my top five King books, below are my worst five. There are not many authors with a sufficient enough back catalogue that you could dislike five books, and still have so many left that they remain your favourite author...and even after taking my top five out of the equation, there was still a huge body of work to review. I should note that these are not necessarily bad books – below-par King is still better than many other authors – but, for me, they fail to hit the mark, falling below the quality of S.K.’s other books, or are just not to my taste. I am more interested in exploring why some work speaks to me yet some does not, especially when the books that I am less fond of are other’s favourites...this is not just an exercise in being rude or mean!  So, in no particular order, my least favourite King books are;

To me, this already felt dated when it first came out. No doubt entranced by the zeitgeist at the time of writing, it was inevitable that King would latch on to the idea of cell ‘phones (that’s mobile ‘phones to us in the UK) as a product for evil, but it felt a bit overdone and unoriginal by the point of publication. It was an entertaining enough read, but I don’t suppose I’ll be compelled to reread it any time soon. (To be honest, I even got bored writing this little section, and took a break to search for a custard tart recipe...) My hope for this book it that in twenty or so years it will become charmingly vintage, a tale of a simpler time with simpler technologies and worries.

Lisey’s Story

Oh Stephen, I really wanted to like this one. I loved the premise, a story about the secret language that builds up within relationships and marriages, how this is a private means of communication and how this can be used to save one another, and how it can even transcend death. But you really lost me with the giant telepathic worm. Sorry.
From a Buick 8

Not a bad book if taken alone, good and creepy, and if you are new to King a fair starting point. But I felt that it was too much of a rehashing of the better novel ‘Christine’. Clearly King had more to say about supernatural cars (one wonders if there is a phobia being worked through here...) but for me it was a postscript to a much more evocative earlier work. Too same-y, I suppose, for me. I will, though, be interested in the movie (if rumours about one happening are true), as good special effects could turn this into something special.

The Eyes of the Dragon

When I perused my Stephen King bookcase in preparing this piece, I became convinced that I had not actually read this, that some disastrous oversight had happened and that it had been sitting, unloved and unread, for many years. On closer inspection, I had read it but had forgotten, not an auspicious start for this poor book when I can to pick my worst five. Doubtless, others will love this as it ties in with the ‘Dark Tower’ series (previous posts will tell you I am not a lover of the series, though I’m prepared to try again at some point). It does work as a standalone, but was very un-Kinglike in style and just not very memorable. This is a fantasy book, rather than horror or sci-fi, and so was never destined to be my favourite, but I can see that others will appreciate it more than I do, those who enjoy the genre as their favourite. I will say, though, the writing is good, it’s just not for me.


Part of me loved this book, it was so lurid and grossly descriptive, and I did get caught up in the story. I was torn between this and ‘Firestarter’ for the last one, but in the end I felt that Firestarter offered more to the reader (and, frankly, had far less graphic descriptions of poo). The awful film version went a long way towards souring this book for me (much as I love Morgan Freeman, those dreadful overacting eyebrows will haunt me forever – and not in a good, spooky, way).
King wrote this when recovering from his car crash; perhaps this prompted the intense physicality of many of the scenes? It is popularly known that he wanted to call the book ‘Cancer’ but his wife talked him out of it, this more brutal title would, I think, have captured its essence better, but possible have resulted in poorer sales.
 It does contain snippets of classic King, it’s a true buddy story, it’s gross, it’s horrific, but you’ll remember the worst bits and not the best after reading.
 Do try it, make up your own mind, it is worth a read – as I’ve said before, bad King is often still good reading – but don’t settle down with it right after eating.
Do you agree? Are you incensed that your favourite is among those listed above? Let me know!

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