I may have said this before, but I had never really been a Stephen King fan before now.
My first experience with King’s work was back in the 90’s, when tv-movie adaptations of some of his books were released. I enjoyed the on-screen versions of “The Stand” and “Sometimes They Come Back”– just to name a couple. I found the stories and characters engaging.
Of course, as most people often say (myself included), the book is usually better because it includes ALL details that fully bring the character or a story to life. Movies are limited to a 2-hour runtime, so the little things (and sometimes some of the bigger things) are left out to compress the main point into a 2-hour time block. Which sucks, because sometimes those little details are important to the relationship between characters or helped define a certain character’s direction. Take “The Hunger Games” series, for instance. In the books, Katniss remembers Peeta as the boy with the bread. It was a pivotal moment between the two characters (in their past) that helped forge the initial bond between them in the story. That was lost in the movie but I digress.
I had tried to read “The Stand” more than a couple of times. It was hard. My young mind couldn’t wrap itself around all of the complications that surrounded the telling of a good story. There were so many details and characters to keep track of. Just when I was taken down one rabbit hole for a character or group of characters, another character would be introduced and so I had to re-route. In that way, I found it was hard to care. For me, I have to care in order to keep reading. Needless to say, I couldn’t muster up the same curiosity and care for “The Stand” in book form as I had with the movie, so I put it down — never to be reopened.
I stayed far away from Stephen King novels after that. Despite that he was a huge commercial success, I just wasn’t that into his work — though I loved the movie adaptations of his novels.
Then came King’s novel 11/22/63. The premise of this story fascinated me. I am a history-buff. I have always been fascinated by the JFK assassination and all of the theories that surround it.
This book had been rated highly on Amazon (I consume book reviews because I don’t want to waste time on a bad read) and there seemed to be a lot of excitement in the lit community about it. I decided to give Stephen King another chance. I am so glad that I did!
11/22/63 is probably one of my favorite books, ever. If you are interested, you can read the review I wrote. Only after reading this novel did I decide that maybe… just maybe all was not lost with Stephen King. At 30 years old, I could pick up another King novel and get through it… couldn’t I?
Then, I read Mr. Mercedes and Salem’s Lot. I genuinely liked both books. However, i’ve gotta say, while they both embrace King’s unique and polished writing style, they were written differently. In Mr. Mercedes, the story (similar to 11/22/63) focused on the characters. In Salem’s Lot, the story was focused on building the town and the characters were fleshed out through that development, but mainly the story centered on the town. In 11/22/63, the story focused on the characters and plot first and then developed further around a wonderful little town in Texas.
I enjoyed Salem’s Lot and Mr. Mercedes but I didn’t enjoy the stories more than 11/22/63. In fact, neither King book inspired me to want to read another one the way that 11/22/63 did. With that novel, I read for hours straight. I couldn’t bear to put it down.
Here’s the thing… I don’t just want to like King’s books, I want to love them! So far, out of the 3 books that I have read (well, 4 if you count my attempt to read “The Stand”), one was a heavy favorite while the other two were just “okay”. They had moments where I couldn’t put them down, but more moments where I struggled to read more than 10 minutes at a time. I want to get lost in a book and not just feel like I have to give it an obligatory read.
Will I ever become a Stephen King fan? I don’t know. At this point, i’m still too new to his work to really make that judgement. I do know that i’m not ready to give up on him yet.
Are you a fan of Stephen King? What are your favorite books?