Short Book Wrap Up #2

Sunday 3 November 2019

It’s time for the second Short Book Wrap Up and this one has a theme! It’s all Stephen King books so yay! That’s right, while Stephen King may be known for super huge books (like The StandItand Under The Dome), he does quite a few short novels and novellas too. I’ve read a few of those in the past year so why not put them all into one blog? If I’m being honest, Carrie is closer to a standard size novel than the other two, but compared to some of his epic tomes, it’s a short book.
Full disclosure, I’m a huge Stephen King fan. You may already know this if you’re a fan of my podcast Future Flicks with Billiam or if you read one of my other King reviews like my Dreamcatcher review. So I went into all of these books with a love of King and his work and while I try not to let my preconceived notions cloud my judgement, I still feel I must admit that I’m a huge Stephen King mark. So here we go with three short books from the master of horror and thrillers, Stephen King.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
This book has a very simple premise that we’re all quite familiar with. A kid named Trisha goes on a hike with her dysfunctional family and gets separated from her family and thus, lost. She has only two things to help her find her way out of the forest. Her wits, and Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, number 36, Tom Gordon. Along the way she must overcome many obstacles like hunger, thirst, injury, and a mysterious creature she’s never seen, but leaves behind bloody animal bits as proof of its existence.
This is and isn’t your typical Stephen King book. It is, because his writing style is very unique and unmistakable. It isn’t because it’s more of a standard fiction/moderate thriller book than anything remotely scary. While this book isn’t his best work, not by a long shot, it’s also not bad. It was an quick enjoyable read.
Trisha is a good main character who I came to like and support as the story went on. Her struggle and her well being became important to me as the book went on. She’s a kid and you never forget that. She’s not some wilderness expert or magically has a wealth of information that saves her life. She learns, makes mistakes, and she grows while taking you along for the ride.
If you like Stephen King, then pick this book up if you haven’t already. If you’re not a huge fan, maybe this is one of the few you’ll like due to it’s more general fiction nature. Either way, give it a shot.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon gets a 7 out of 11
Quick note about the books in this blog. Just something fun I noticed. They’re all linked to Castle Rock. If you’re not familiar with it, Castle Rock is a fictional town that King loves to use in his books kind of like Derry, Maine. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon has a brief mention of Castle Rock while the next two books take place in the fictional city.
Gwendy’s Button Box
Don’t own a copy of this one… yet.
This was a book that I stumbled upon at my local library. I had no idea this book was even released. I snatched it up as soon as I saw it and cracked it open once I got home. What I read… was weird.
What? Stephen King, weird? I know! Crazy, right? But this short book (clocking in at 171 pages) was based off an odd idea, but as usual, King spun a well written and thought out tale.
So this book is about twelve year old Gwendy who one day meets a mysterious man in black (Randal Flagg anyone?) in the park who gives her a magical box that has two buttons. Each button does something different and will change her life in different ways. The box and it’s powers seem innocuous but can have lasting consequences.
This story may have been based off an odd idea, but it turns into an enjoyable book. It’s one of those stories by King that’s good, but not great. Will I read it again? Maybe. Just because it’s short and has fun references to his other works. But I do believe that once is good enough.
I think this is a book that’s best saved for a fan of King instead of a fist venture into the pantheon of his work. It’s good, but I think I was ready to like it more than a non-King fan would be.
Gwendy’s Button Box gets a 7 out of 11
This was Stephen King’s first book. The one he famously threw away after rejection after rejection and his wife Tabitha took it out of the trash and convinced him to keep trying. Lo and behold, he got published and thus started his journey to becoming one of the most prolific writers of the current era.
You probably know what Carrie is about, especially since it’s been turned into a movie twice and has been around since 1974. But just in case, here’s my version of the premise. Carrie White is very unpopular is school. So much so that she gets relentlessly bullied, even by people who normally wouldn’t partake in such cruel acts. Her home life isn’t much better. Her crazy evangelical mother swears that everything in a sin and forces Carrie to repent for everything, including the powers that Carrie has that must be a curse from the devil. Can Carrie keep her cool despite all the outside influence? Or will she break, unleashing her powers?
Okay, we all know the answer to that question. To be fair, you probably know the answer to that question even if you’ve never read it or seen one of the two movies (three if you count the sequel).
The important difference that I noticed between the movie and the book is how well developed the character of Sue Snell is. Sue, if you’re not familiar, is the popular girl in school who finds herself taking part in teasing Carrie and later wonders what came over her. In the movie Sue is a basic character. Not bad but not overly developed. But in the book she’s much more relatable and just a better character.
What impressed me about this book is that King didn’t make Christianity one of the bad guys seeing as a crazy evangelical is one of the main characters. He makes it clear that it’s not Christianity that’s inherently evil, but the person who’s practising it that warps the teachings into fanaticism. People are the bad guys in this. People are what drive Carrie to the edge.
If you enjoyed the movie at all, if this seems even a little interesting to you, pick this up. It’s a quick read that tells a good story and does a better job of fleshing it all out. The movie isn’t bad at all. The 1976 film is a classic. But the book is better.
Carrie gets a 9 out of 11

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