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The Shining / Salem's Lot / Night Shift / Carrie

de Stephen King

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1331164,833 (4.4)2
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The Shining:
The Shining is a complex tale combining the supernatural elements of a haunted hotel with the paranormal powers of a boy with the ability to shine and an intense character study of a man driven deeper and deeper into madness.
Laced throughout with an undercurrent of tension, the story moves us quickly on a roller-coaster ride of events that lead to an intense, action-packed conclusion.
The main story revolves around a man and his family who are trying to regroup their lives and take one last chance at attaining some stability. Jack Torrance has had a long history of drinking and rage issues that have threatened to tear his family apart and have recently lost him a prestigious teaching position. Taking the job as the winter care-taker of the closed for the season Overlook Hotel seems like the perfect way to re-bond with his family and to write his novel. But the hotel has other plans. Plans that send Jack spiraling doward deeper and deeper into insanity.
In a previous review, I mentioned that Salem's Lot is my favorite King novel. I continue to stand by that statement even as I say that The Shining is one of his better written novels. The depth of the story and richness of his description in this novel are at the top of his game.
Truly a great novel that I highly recommend.

Salems Lot:
As is common in King's writing, this is another fine example of great character development and descriptive prose. The story itself is a fairly simple plot revolving around a small town being over-run by vampires.
What brings this out of the doldrums of it's simplistic storyline is King's flair for making even the humdrum interesting. His discriptions of the scene and his styling of each character's mannerisms draw you into the story. The suspense is also gradually built up and culminates in a very satisfying finale.
Salem's lot is a very enjoyable read and has not aged much over the years since it was written. Some things are of course dated, but that's only natural. I really had fun rereading it.

Night Shift:
Overall – I really liked the first story, but after that the stories really seemed to taper off quite a bit until I got to Battleground. After that one, my interested was piqued and the book continued at a high level through The Ledge and on to the end with a few exceptions here and there raising my overall rating from a 6 to a 7.
Jerusalem’s Lot – The first story is an “historical” account of the events that take place when a man and his faithful servant take residence in his ancestral home and explore the shunned ghost town of Jerusalem’s Lot. The story is told through a series of letters and journal entries and is very different from King’s normal style. It’s a bit slow, but still creepy.
Graveyard Shift – A group of men who work in a factory are offered the “opportunity” to work over the 4th of July holiday cleaning out the basement of the factory. They discover a rat problem in the depths of the building that turns out to be worse than expected. This one was mildly amusing, not the best of the bunch.
Night Surf – Post apocalyptic preview of The Stand. The super flu has run rampant and wiped out most of the population. For all that this small group of survivors knows, they are the last people on the planet. So-so, maintains interest because of The Stand.
I Am the Doorway – A wheel-chair bound former astronaut with a strange affliction tells his friend about his vision of a crime that he is sure that he committed even though it is a physical impossibility for him to have committed it. This one took me much longer than it should have to finish. It did not keep my attention and frankly I was bored with it.
The Mangler – A police officer investigates an industrial accident at a laundry. What he finds there turns out to be more than just an accident. I liked this story. It was engaging and kept the tension going through the end.
The Boogeyman – A man speaks to a therapist about the deaths of his young children at the hands of the closet monster and the blame that he has taken upon himself for his part in them. Pretty darn good story…until the end. Just my opinion, but I though that the ending really sucked.
Gray Matter – A man gets some kind of illness from drinking a bad beer and it begins to change his physical form. Not bad, this one moved along pretty well and had some decent suspense.
Battleground – Excellent story. A hit man receives a box from his mark’s mother when he returns from a job. The suspense is built up really well and there’s a great ending.
Trucks – This one is pretty good. It centers on a group of people who are trapped in a truck stop by a mob of possessed trucks. The movie Maximum Overdrive is based on this story and uses most of the major parts of the story, but extrapolates upon the story quite a bit. Another one with which I was not too pleased by the ending.
Sometimes They Come Back – Well written story about a man who is having recurring nightmares involving the childhood murder of his brother. When the teenage murderers begin appearing in his class 16 years later, he knows that something unnatural is afoot and takes it upon himself to find out how to stop it.
Strawberry Spring – Best story in the book so far, although a bit predictable. I can’t really say why I enjoyed the story so much, it just seems to flow well. Told in first person, it is an account of a series of murders that take place on campus during the time that the protagonist is in college. I loved the ending of this one.
The Ledge – The Ledge is another solid offering. A tennis pro caught cheating with a millionaire’s wife accepts a wager to walk the 5 inch ledge around the 40th floor. Good build up of tension through-out and another nice ending.
The Lawnmower Man – After a string of excellent stories, this one is pretty weak. A man sells his lawnmower after a cat is accidentally run over by the kid he hires to mow his lawn. The following summer, he procrastinates hiring a service to do the mowing and the lawn grows out of control. When he finally hires a service, he gets a strange and dangerous surprise. Very odd and not really fitting in with most of the book so far, this story seems very random and I just couldn’t get into it.
Quitters, Inc. – Back to another excellent story. A man decides to follow a friend’s advice and quit smoking. The company that he goes to for help uses some rather unorthodox methods. I found this one to be very entertaining. The story moves well and keeps the reader in high gear.
I Know What You Need – This one was a fairly dull stinker. A guy uses his psychic/voodoo powers to charm and win a girl. It just didn’t seem to go anywhere and I was bored.
Children of the Corn – One of the longer stories in the book. A couple traveling through Nebraska has an accident and proceeds to the next town to take care of things. The town is mostly deserted and all that is left is a cult of psychotic children. It’s an excellent story and really creepy. This is another of my favorites in the book.
The Last Rung on the Ladder – This is another good one. This is a touching, sad story about an event that happens to a boy and his sister and where it has left them today.
The Man Who Loved Flowers – This story is not as good as some of the rest, but still enjoyable. This is a story about young love in the spring-time…or is it?
One for the Road – This was a fun one for a Stephen King fan. Winter in Maine and a terrible storm has blown in. Two men at a bar are surprised when a well dressed and frozen man bursts in. It seems that his car has been lodged in a snow drift a few miles down the road at the exit to Jerusalem’s Lot. His wife and daughter are waiting in the car for him to bring help…or are they?? Help or something else may have come for them already.
The Woman in the Room – Boy, what a downer to end the book on. It’s a well written story, but very depressing. The story is about a man whose mother is dying from cancer. It mainly centers around his feelings about whether or not she would be better off dead and whether or not he should help her to end it.

Carrie:
Extremely strong character development and strong dialogue mark all of King's work and Carrie is no exception. King is a wonderful weaver of tales. When I read this book while in my teens, I was bored with it and just didn't get it. Reading it again as an adult, I can better see all of the inner turmoil that the characters are facing. It's also interesting how he breaks up the narrative with exerpts from real sounding commission reports, news stories and post-event accounts of the events of prom night. Truly a well written story of the terrible things that adolescents do to one another and what might happen if the right person is pushed past her threshold of tolerance. ( )
  StefanY | Mar 8, 2007 |
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