on 6 November 2003
I am a huge Stephen King fan. I own and have read most of his books, and yet for some reason I bought this and it simply sat on the shelf for about 2 months before I thought about reading it. I think I felt a little let down by Mr King's most recent efforts... Dreamcatcher just didn't work for me. So when I finally did pick it up and start reading my first feeling was one of immense relief. The King is back!
I love the way King writes about cars. Everyone who has read Christine must realise that here is a guy who likes his cars. So 'Buick 8' was always going to be 'from the heart'.
It wasn't what I expected either. Having struggled through Dreamcatcher, I was expecting something similar, so was pleasantly surprised to find a book that was more like King's older works. Not wanting to spoil it for others, but it deals with a menace that all the characters know about but is never fully realised. The horror in the book is the horror of each character's own experience with the Buick. The way the book is written is also very clever, central narration with single person perspective from lots of different characters.
What can I say, I love this book. My favourite King? Possibly (and I do not say that lightly). Take my word for it, if you thought King was past it, try this book. You might be surprised.
on 4 January 2004
I love Stephen King's writing - I think he has a style and a class all of his own. I buy everything he writes because I have never been disappointed by anything he has written and I know that I am not buying something that will take me weeks to trawl through. Buick was not disappointing - just flat and a little below what King's fan's are entitled to expect from him.
His command of language and interesting comparison is usually second to none - but here it seems clumsy and forced. I appreciate that this is because the story is being told from the viewpoint of characters who are not by nature narrators; nonetheless it plodded in parts and seemed weak in places. Some of the analogies and descriptions were downright cringing worthy - falling straight into the traps King warns would-be writers of in 'On Writing.' Perhaps that is the problem - perhaps King has given us an insight into what we are entitled to expect from him and this misses the mark.
It won't stop me buying his other books - but if you are thinking about this as your first foray into the amazing world of Stephen King then I'd strongly recommend you opt for 'The Stand' if you have the time to read it - or something like the 'Different Seasons' novellas. Those will give you a real taste of why he is truly the King!
on 3 September 2002
Well here it is .... this years Stephen King release, I always look forward to it and after the release of some of his shorter stories earlier this year -- this is no doubt his main course.
A claustrophobic affair more in keeping with Geralds Game or Misery than his epics like The Stand. Not set in Kings Country and he explains the reason at the end ... the main characters are Troopers who have a secret sitting in the shed behind their Station --- in the form of a Buick 8, an odd looking (and feeling) car. The book is basically the troopers telling their tales to a son of one of there dead compadres .... and this fills out the story so well. Odd animals and disappearing people all linked to the mysterious vehicle in shed b. What is it? Where is it from? and more questions asked -- are any answered? Maybe.
This is one of Kings sojourn into the Dark Tower backdrop ... but lets be honest - aren't they all! So for a first bite of King I probably wouldn't recommend it. To his constant readers this is a great read. Very well written ... maybe as a literary offering its one of his best .... maybe a little frustrasting for his older fans who yearn for Salems Lot or Pet Sematary ... but these have been done so each new book is a piece to the jigsaw that is Kings Universe.
King is the best ... end of story -- this is a good book and is a must for his constant readers --- as a mainstream effort I ain't too sure.
From A Buick 8 has been on Stephen Kings back burner for the past few years, and its perhaps easy to see why other projects would have taken priority. The most surprising thing about this novel is that the tale itself is so slight – a mysterious car shows up out of nowhere and strange occurrences surround it, that’s about it. Fears of comparisons with Christine are redundant, the fact that the mysterious object here happens to be a car is the only similarity – it could easily have been one of a dozen other objects without altering the story too much.
The story is told predominantly in flashback, not unlike Dolores Claiborne, and this has the effect of making a lot of the supporting cast rather faceless and interchangeable. Beyond the core main characters there is a large cast of cops who drift into and out of the story over the span of years, and these very thinly sketched characters often remain little more than names.
The main problem with From a Buick 8 is its length – it’s far too long, and much of the middle 200 hundred pages are taken up with repetition. Young Ned is impatient with the rambling nature of the story being told, wanting to get straight to the meat of the story – after the third ‘flashing light show, appearance of Lovecraft-ian creature, examination’ sequence in a row the reader sympathises. King also stoops to using the lowest possible form of reader misdirection I’ve ever read in the last chapter, which manages to end things on a sour note.
This is by no means a bad book, and there is still plenty to enjoy – plays on the attraction of dangerous objects, the chain of events that stretches between people and events over the years, the authors usual trait of a repeated phrase (“Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought him back”) – its just a bit of an uneven ride, and certainly a let down after the brilliant Black House…
on 14 August 2003
Trying to compare any recent Stephen King novel with his earlier works such as "The Dead Zone", "The Shining", "The Stand" or "It" is a hopeless task, as nothing he has written since will ever match those books for sheer genius.
However, trying to leave that prejudice aside, this was a highly enjoyable novel that restored my faith in King after the quite awful "Dreamcatcher" which must rank alongside "The Tommyknockers" as the worst books he has ever written.
I approached this with some trepidation after reading the synopsis, as I was dreading what I thought would be another futile attempt to introduce us to an alien world, as in my opinion, King can't get this to work...his tedious Dark Tower saga being a case in point. But, work it did, mainly due to the strong narrative and the fact that the "other world" was just skirted around and never truly explored, leaving the reader to make up his or her own mind about where and what it was.
King writes better in the first person and it showed here. He regained the knack in this book of lulling you into a false sense of security, where not much is happening, before hitting you with a chunk of unsettling horror and then just as quickly leaving it alone for a while. It was all the better for not having a huge build up into what is normally a disappointing, badly written, climatic scene which King is fond of lately.
Altogether, a return to form and it bodes well for future novels.
on 24 June 2007
I can't say From a Buick 8 was one of the best S King books i have read, but I didn't exactly hate it either. There isn't much of a plot, just a collection of incidents that have taken place around the existence of this car, that isn't a car. I felt I wanted to know more about the car and where it came from, but then again so did the characters in the story, and I suppose the mystery of it's existence is what this book is all about. At the end of the day, I guess, some things just remain mysteries.
However, the characters are all very much alive on the pages and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. I am just not too keen on the monsters myself, but that doesn't mean others won't like this book.
on 4 July 2008
I'm not a Stephen King addict but I've read enough to know what he's about - and in this case I found myself haunted by his tale which is a good recommendation for a horror story. I noticed "From a Buick 8" on a shelf in our rented holiday villa and I pretty much didn't put it down until I'd finished it. I confess that King's wilder flights of horror don't appeal to me but here he is again effortlessly creating and moulding these good ol' boy characters, making them as real as you or I and then making the reader care what happens to them as they are faced with the everyday problem of how to deal with something that is so horrific yet for which no explanation exists either for them or for the readers. I love King's deliberate refusal to dot all the "i's" and cross the "ts" in this book. He deliberately doesn't explain everything - you must accept the situation no matter how bizarre, and of course we do, because King is just about the best storyteller around. There is an air of suspense around the mysterious Buick and around the story. Every page turn makes you wonder if something is about to explode. And sometimes it does, but often just the stillness remains, waiting, into which we drop our own nameless fears, and sometimes King serves them right back to us. King makes brilliant storytelling seem effortless and I'd recommend this book as one of his best.
Perhaps Stephen King wrote FROM A BUICK 8 after gagging on too many installments of the way-too-cute HERBIE THE LOVE BUG film series.
Here, it's 1979 Pennsylvania, and a vintage 1954 Buick Roadmaster in pristine condition is left behind at a rural gas station by a sinister man dressed in black, who subsequently disappears. Troop D of the State Police is called to investigate, and, while it never finds the man in black, its officers discover that the Buick is exceedingly curious. For one, the car is self-cleaning; dirt doesn't stick. For another, it's incapable of running: there are no battery cables, generator, alternator, distributor, or distributor cap; the control knobs on the dash aren't functional; the steering wheel doesn't turn. Anyway, Troop D impounds the vehicle, locks it in a shed, and keeps it the Troop's private secret. But the Buick isn't quiescent. Periodically it drops the temperature in the shed, erupts into a fiery display of violet light, and spits otherworldy plants and creatures out of the trunk, which decompose and die in a matter of minutes. Occasionally, test animals and insects left in the shed disappear - as did Trooper Ennis Rafferty. Trooper Curtis Wilcox becomes obsessed with the nature of the Buick. After Curtis is killed in 2001 by a drunk driver, his teenage son Ned becomes the Troop's mascot, so to speak. The plot of FROM A BUICK 8 cycles back and forth from "then" to "now", as Ned is told the story of the Buick, still isolated and perfect in its shed, and his father's obsession.
The biggest problem with this book is the length - it's a long short story or novella run amok to 351 pages. Though King throws out enough weirdness every once in awhile to perhaps keep the reader interested, I got the impression that he (or his publisher) just prolonged a mediocre storyline to justify its publication as a full length novel, with a novel's exorbitant cover price. (I bought it used on the cheap from a third party seller. Neener, neener, neeeener!) In any case, FROM A BUICK 8 lurches along to a relatively unsatisfyng ending that I began to anticipate halfway though the book, when it became difficult to summon the interest and energy to continue reading. The dodgy Buick might just as well have been a haunted PortaLoo or microwave oven for all I finally cared. After all, both have doors that creepy things can pop out of unsuspected.
If you're a speed reader and can finish this novel at one sitting - say, on a cross-country flight - then it may be better than the over-edited in-flight movie or the dog-eared airline mag in the seat pocket. Otherwise, I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.
on 14 June 2003
I have read nearly all Stephen King books and my first thought about this was, oh god a book about a car it's Christine 2. This is definatley not Christine 2.
The son of a recently killed Police officer is helping out around the police station where his father served, while looking around the back of the barracks, he see's the secret of the Station. A Gleaming Buick 8 motor vehicle. It has no battery, the engine could not possibly work, no key and it repairs itself if scratched. So how did this car drive onto a garage forecourt years before, this is a car that draws you towards it.
This book without doubt is responsible for my reignited interest in Stephen King. It is extremly well written and a pleasure to read. The story is involving and you feel for all the characters involved.
This is a book that should definatley not be missed, hopefully this will not be lost in the shadow of the dark tower books due for release this year.
Miss this book at your peril. It's Official King is like a good wine. He is getting better and better with age.
on 29 December 2002
I am writing this review only 5 hours after finishing "from a Buick 8" and i have to say that it is one of the best Stephen King books i've ever read! (and i've read nearly all of them). the story is wonderful in its simplicity and narrative and, while not quite up there with "Dreamcatcher", is definetly worthy of praise and a place among this years literary highlights.
most people seem to have dismissed this novel out of hand, claiming that "its boring" and "nothing much happens". to me, this is what it's all about. it shows that things can, and often do, happen for no reason, and that not everything needs a purpose, an ending or even a beginning, sometimes, things just happen. it also shows how, even in the most dire situations, you still just need to get on with your normal life and not let this control you, or you'll pay the price of obsession. troop D is what the carachters in this novel hold onto, keeping themselves sane, allowing them to lead their private lives, despite the fact the Buick keeps trying to intrude.
another common complaint about this book is that it's just another "Dark Tower" spin off, leaving it meaning less to the casual reader. however, this is blatantly not true. i personally detest the dark tower series, but i still managed to enjoy, or, even, love this book. it isn't even directly connected to the dark tower series (as Insomnia an Black house were). it seems that, nowadays, if King so much as hints at an alternate reality to ours everyone immediatly cries "another Dark Tower spin-off!" which is a shame, as this is a wonderful novel, with not one hidden reference to the dark tower books.
personally, i urge anyone reading this to rush out and buy "Buick 8" as i thoroughly enjoyed it, it's just BRILLIANT.