Tag Archives: Stephen King

Mile 81
Mile 81 by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great story for a quick flight from Logan to New York. I’m not going to say too much about the plot, since the story’s so short, but I’ll say that, once again, it’s the people not the monsters that King draws best. Something bad happens at an abandoned rest stop, do you really need more? Most of the characters meet a terrible fate, and it’s King’s ability to make you care so quickly about them that steals the show. Also, the atmosphere of the abandoned rest stop is outstanding. Loved every creepy detail.

All that said, the “big bad” of the story, to borrow a phrase from the Buffyverse, is laughable. King writes the hell out of it, of course, but it’s still an embarrassing concept. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but I do want to say that there’s a wobble effect described here that seems like King’s trying to describe some really terrible CGI. Two things about that: 1.) when writers start letting CGI color their imaginations, they need to be slapped and told to work harder; 2.) even if you want to let the modern abomination that is Hollywood CGI color your imagination, at least write about expensive CGI. The effect King sells in this story is some Syfy Channel-level work, at best.

Giving this one four stars for being compelling and filled with great details and characters; docking it a star for having a worthless, uninspired (and rather recycled, in terms of the King-verse) central villain.

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Full Dark, No Stars
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Almost a four-star review, but not quite. I enjoyed the stories overall, but I feel like the ideas just weren’t good enough. When I think of the stories in Different Seasons, or Four Past Midnight, or even the Bachman Books, I feel like this collection of four novellas comes up lacking a bit.

The collection start with “1922” — the story of a haunted man and his equally haunted son — begins in unbelievability, wanders into decent horror story territory, and then waddles off into a muttering, clumsy puddle of half-baked plot before whimpering to its conclusion. But hey, some of the details were cool (loved the rats! loved them!), so I wasn’t entirely bored. But I didn’t in the end find much to believe in this one. Might’ve been better as a real short story.

Next comes “Big Driver” — and this one pretty much follows the plot of films like Last House on the Left (itself rented and viewed by the main character) and would have seemed really derivative to me, had it not been for King’s striking ability to write well when the mood suits him. I wound up having a blast with this story, even if I wanted to reject its very premise from the moment I realized what it was going to be about. The conclusion was suspenseful, and if all the stories were as good as this one, I’d probably have given the collection five stars.

“Fair Extension” was absolute garbage, and King should be ashamed of himself for it. This deal-with-the-devil story has the devil go by the name of George Elvid. Yes. That’s right. Elvid. One look at that name, and I wanted to slap King on the wrist.

Finally, “The Good Marriage” continued King’s habit of writing long stories of women alone in a house sifting through their husband’s stuff. This one discovers a nasty secret about her husband. It was interesting, and decent enough, but rather long-winded at times for my taste. Nice ending. Also, though, I feel like this one could have been better as a real short story. There’s a lot of fat on this one.

So I guess I liked half the stories here, barely liked another, and full on mocked another. And yet … it was all so very easy to read and King kept me turning the pages.

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