Doctor Sleep by Stephen King & In The Tall Grass by Joe Hill & Stephen King (Book Reviews)

With Doctor Sleep coming out tomorrow, I thought I’d repost my mini-review of the book. I have my ticket booked for the film and cannot WAIT to see it! It looks fantastic in the trailer. I probably won’t have time but I’m seeing it early afternoon so I’ll try to review it late tomorrow (it seems pointless to not review it on Halloween).

I’ve also done a very quick review of King & son Hill’s short story In The Tall Grass. My review of that Netflix film will be posted later today.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Years ago, the haunting of the Overlook Hotel nearly broke young Dan Torrance’s sanity, as his paranormal gift known as “the shining” opened a door straight into hell. And even though Dan is all grown up, the ghosts of the Overlook—and his father’s legacy of alcoholism and violence—kept him drifting aimlessly for most of his life. Now, Dan has finally found some order in the chaos by working in a local hospice, earning the nickname “Doctor Sleep” by secretly using his special abilities to comfort the dying and prepare them for the afterlife. But when he unexpectedly meets twelve-year-old Abra Stone—who possesses an even more powerful manifestation of the shining—the two find their lives in sudden jeopardy at the hands of the ageless and murderous nomadic tribe known as the True Knot, reigniting Dan’s own demons and summoning him to battle for this young girl’s soul and survival…

My Thoughts:

I gave some very brief thoughts on this book when I did a post of My Top Books Read In 2014 HERE. Here’s what I said:

Of course Doctor Sleep was going to be my favorite book read in 2014. No, it’s not as good as The Shining but I think it’s a decent enough sequel. I liked re-visiting characters from The Shining and liked the main girl, Abra, and her relationship with Danny. I also thought the “villains” (The True Knot) were very effective, especially their leader Rose the Hat.

This was the first book I read in 2014 so I finished it quite a while ago. I of course thoroughly enjoyed it while reading it but it’s already fading from my memory a bit as it just didn’t grab me in the way other King books have. I’m not sure why. It’s good but I think King has written better books in recent years. I think 11/22/63 is a better book overall plus I possibly enjoyed Duma Key slightly more than Doctor Sleep, although I’m sure I’m very much in the minority there. I also had a lot of fun with the book Joyland (check it out – it never gets mentioned!).

Doctor Sleep is certainly one of King’s better books overall but it’s probably not quite up there with my very favorites although I was hoping it would be. I’ve given it some thought and The Dead Zone is possibly my favorite King book although I also love Salem’s Lot, The Long Walk, The Shining, and The Green Mile plus I love his short story collections (almost more than his full novels sometimes). It would possibly be a big favorite except for one bit I really don’t like in it (I think everyone knows the bit I mean). Night Shift was the first thing of his that I read and that’s what got me hooked. I’m sure you all wanted to know my Stephen King history, right??

My Rating: 4/5

**Since posting the above mini- review in 2014, I’ve done a full ranked list of every Stephen King book I’ve read HERE.

In The Tall Grass by Joe Hill & Stephen King

What It’s About:
A brother and his pregnant sister go into a field of tall grass after hearing a kid’s cries for help. Then some fucked up supernatural shit happens because this was written by Stephen King & his son.

My Thoughts:

I clearly love Stephen King and am very happy that his son’s stories are almost as enjoyable as his father’s. I’ve maybe even preferred some of Hill’s writing, especially his short stories in the 20th Century Ghosts collection. As I loved that collection so much, I was very excited when his newest collection, Full Throttle, came out a few weeks ago. I’ve only read In The Tall Grass so far so I could then watch the Netflix adaptation. Well, I hope the rest of the stories are better than this one. At least it was short!

How could a collaboration between my two favorite authors go so wrong? It starts out great (as do most of their stories). It was eerie and I love how King manages to make everyday things so creepy. He’s made fields scary, for fucks sake! I’m never going into corn or grass ever again! Which is fine since I hate nature.

Now, I adore King and he’s one of my favorite people in the world and I want him to write hundreds of more books so that I never run out of Stephen King material to read. The same goes for Hill now as well. But every once in a while, although not very often, I think “this dude may be a little messed up.” There aren’t really any stories of his that I’ve truly disliked but some have been a little too gross or certain things have gone a bit too far for me. The group thing in It. The graphic rape in The Library Policeman, The Outsider & Under The Dome. The overall weirdness of The Lawnmower Man (nothing too gross there – just weird as shit from what I remember?). Hill also creeped me the hell out with a short story called Best New Horror, which was very disturbing but showed his skill at writing full-on horror. Well, I can add In The Tall Grass to the list of stories that went a bit too far for me personally.

To be fair, this felt very much like a King story so I didn’t hate it. The setting was good (I’m a rural girl so always appreciate the rural settings) but it was a shame we didn’t get to know anything about that church and the small surrounding community as the story was so short (I think around 40 pages?). I did very much appreciate the supernatural centerpiece to the story but we find out very little about that as well. We also don’t spend enough time with the slightly incestuous brother and sister to really care what will happen to them in the tall grass from which it seems they can never escape. Like most Hill (and especially King) stories, it just fizzles out at the end. Well, except for that super gross bit! As much as I love their writing, I do find many of their endings a little disappointing. In this case, as it’s a short story, I didn’t mind the loose ends so much as it added to the mysteriousness of the field. I just wish it had been a bit less… Icky.

My Rating: 2/5

**I’ll review the Netflix adaptation later today. FYI – It’s a dreadful mess and the short story is far better…

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Book Review)

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

What It’s About: (via the back cover)

Every Day The Same. Until Today.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens.

She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking, and in one moment everything changes.

Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see: she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

My Thoughts:

I pretty much hated this book. I’ve never read a book full of so many annoying & hateful characters! The characters in this made me almost like the people in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I’d rather be friends with everyone in Gone Girl than with any of these self-absorbed assholes. Why was there so much hype over this book? Between the hype & knowing it was going to be made into a movie starring Emily Blunt (I love her), I was really excited to finally read this one. Ugh. I’m never listening to hype again.

Rachel is our main character, the girl on the train. This is who Emily Blunt will be playing and I hope they make this character a little less pathetic for the movie. It’ll break my heart to see Blunt go from playing someone so kick-ass in the excellent Edge Of Tomorrow to playing a woman who spends the entirety of this book drinking & moping around just because her husband left her. Okay, it’s sad to be dumped but I think this takes place a year or so later and you just want to scream at her “Get over it! Move on!“. You’d maybe feel sorry for Rachel if she didn’t end up being so hateful.

At least we get some other characters, right? Luckily, the book also spends quite a bit of time on the characters in the homes that Rachel can see from the train. Unfortunately, though, they’re just as hateful. One thing I really can’t stand are people who are completely self-absorbed & I think this is actually a huge disturbing trend in today’s society (thanks, Kardashithingies – I refuse to spell that name out as I don’t want it linked to my blog). Each character is so “me me me” and cares only if their actions have immediate consequences for themselves. The women are obsessed with themselves & with their men (or lack of men). The men, who are secondary characters, are so one-dimensional. I felt like both the men & the women were written as gender stereotypes and I’ve never been so completely unable to relate to anyone in a story.

So what about the story? It’s hard to get into the story at all since it revolves around a mystery and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone still wanting to read this or to watch the movie. I’ll say that the story is okay. I’ll even say that I was very into the mystery at first & read this book very quickly as I was so eager to find out what was going on. But it falls apart at the end & I wasn’t happy with the direction it took. Predictable & silly. One character also does something so horribly unforgivable & inexcusable, naïve or not, that I was actually quite angry at this being used as a plot device. If not for that one thing, I’d probably be a little more forgiving of the story.

I can’t help but compare this to Gone Girl as both were huge best sellers involving a mystery & similar sorts of characters. But Gone Girl, despite its faults, was actually very well-written and a far better book. You have to give a little bit of credit to The Girl On The Train for obviously being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant Rear Window but, well, it’s certainly no Rear Window… Yikes. What an insult to Grace Kelly & Jimmy Stewart! Rachel is like the anti-Grace Kelly.

Hated Rachel. Hated Anna. Hated Megan. Hated the men whose names I can’t even remember as they were written as such shallow characters that I was insulted on behalf of men everywhere. But the story wasn’t the worst thing ever, I suppose. It moved along fairly quickly & would make for a good made-for-TV movie so the fact that it’s a big Hollywood movie with big stars must mean I’m missing something that everyone else isn’t. This book has very positive reviews all over the place online so, if it interests you, give it a go as my opinion seems to be an unpopular one. To be fair, this isn’t the type of book I normally go for so I may be slightly more negative because of that. I think I’ll just stick to horror, sci-fi & post-apocalyptic from now on.

My Rating: 2/5

*The film adaptation of The Girl On The Train comes out next week on the 5th of October if you’re interested…