Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Book Review: Dreamcatcher

I haven't read a Stephen King novel in years, I picked this one up recently as a discounted hardback for $5.99. Dreamcatcher was on my bookshelf next to IT. The sheer immensity of IT puts me off, so Dreamcatcher got the call.
Stephen King's own story behind Dreamcatcher is probably about as interesting as the actual novel - King wrote Dreamcatcher, during his recovery after being run over by a van. He wrote the 600 page novel by manuscript (for those of you shackled to your computer, that means a pen!)and under quite a bit of pain. You can almost feel his pain through his characters' experiences. There are many scenes of excruciating pain and physical exhaustion. More surprising though is the time King spends on passing gas. You see, Dreamcatcher is a story about alien landings and abduction. A side effect of the alien being implanted into a human is passing gas with a stench that is overwhelming. I haven't seen the movie adaptation of Dreamcatcher, but I can't imagine it dwells on this like King does.
Dreamcatcher, like many of his novels, centers around four close friends and how important events from their past come back to impact their future. Roughly, the story is about their hunting trip gone haywire after they bring in a stranger that acts and smells very strange. As King tells about the lives of each of the four friends, they become easily likeable, well-constructed characters. The problem is, and this is a spoiler, a couple of them die, just as soon as you feel you know them. After the four friends mishap with their "strange" stranger, the book shifts to a covert military group that is investigating the area in hopes of eliminating the alien threat. King loses me a bit here. Introducing the leader of the mission Kurtz, a cranky and somewhat crazy dictator among his troops. They bring the second section of the book to a screeching halt with too much tactical military conversation. Luckily, King reels his focus back to his central characters and adds more depth to his story with Duddits, the mentally handicapped friend of the quartet. He plays a much bigger part in their lives than they would have ever counted on. Sure, many scenes with Duddits are very hokey but I'm willing to give King some leeway here if he can spin it into the story. And spin he does, with a thrilling chase that makes up the third and final part of the novel. While all of King's novels I've read havebeen quick and satisfying reads, I'd have to say Dreamcatcher is probably my least favorite.


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