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Desperation Paperback – 1 Sep 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; Airport ed edition (1 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034068271X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340654279
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24 x 3.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,924,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

A notice to those who feel that Stephen King has lost his magic touch: Desperation is the genuine goods. The ensemble cast of ordinary Americans thrown together by chance, including a disgruntled alcoholic writer and a child who is wise beyond his years, may be a bit too familiar. But the nearly deserted Nevada mining town with an enormous haunted mine pit and an abandoned movie theatre where the survivors hang out makes for a striking battleground, and the grisly action rarely flags. Best of all, though, are the characters of Tak, the ancient body-hopping evil who emerges from the mine, and of "God"--whom the New York Times describes as "the edgiest creation in Desperation. Remote, isolated, ironic, shrouded behind disguises, perhaps ‘another legendary shadow,' this deity forms a sly foil, and an icy mirror, to Tak." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Genuinely masterful (Daily Telegraph)

A massive volume of terror crafted creepily (Daily Mail)

King again proves himself the premier literary barometer of our cultural clime...The terror is relentless...deeply moving and enthralling masterpiece (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Crookedmouth HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A disparate collection of travellers are abducted by an insane cop and incarcerated in the jail of a small Nevada mining town in the middle of nowhere. It quickly becomes clear that the cop isn't just insane - he's posessed - and an ancient tunnel recently uncovered at the mine may hold the clue...

King's novels are rather variable in quality. I suspect that most careful and discerrning readers, even King's Constant Readers, will acknowledge that as true. I'll qualify the statement and state that I haven't yet read a single King that I *didn't* like but I *can* recognise their flaws. Perhaps that's the mark of a true fan (I'd like to think so)?

Now; I'm re-reading a lot of his old stuff and (slowly) coming up to date with his newer work so I can't claim to have a huge base across which to compare, but I think that Desperation has to be one of his better novels. It scores highly on a number of counts, the best probably being the atmosphere that King develops: the desperate, deserted, dusty desolation of the setting, the sense of rising foreboding as events build to a head, the terror and uncertainty evoked by the murderous cop, the helplessness of his victims and the sudden randomness of their deaths. This *feels* like a horror novel. The depiction of the mad cop is also masterful: he's not simply insane Tak, his problems go far deeper than that and his strange mannerisms and sayings convey his demonic posession rather well.

That said, King lets himself down somewhat with the dialogue he constructs for his other - less mental - protagonists and they frequently talk as if their lines had been scripted by a Hollywood B-movie dialogue coach; wordy and schmaltzily sincere.
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I'm actually going to sway away from popular opinion on this one. Even though it’s by no means a bad book, it’s not great either.
Desperation is certainly more of a gore-fest rather than a psychological horror. The book begins with a couple driving through a desert. As the pass a sign, they notice a dead animal nailed to it, this is the first scare, then a cop pulls them over, and then BANG! You’re into the action immediately. The story certainly starts very quickly, no time building characters or the scene too much with this one, oh no, the horror is fast paced and I’m sure that almost everyone will find the first 100 pages impossible to put down. But this is the big problem. How do you sustain this kind of pace for 700 pages? Simply, you cant. This is very disappointing, as I thought the first part really was some of the most intense storytelling that I’ve read in a long while, unfortunately, you pay for this because the story really does begin to drag a bit from there on in.
If you like blood, guts, severed limbs, and basically just downright gore, gore and throw some more gore in, then you wont be disappointed with this. But if you looking for a more psychological horror, then I suggest maybe Bag of Bones also by King.
A good horror story that maybe drags on a little too long, and maybe the horror is too in your face (which in my opinion is much less scary most the time) for some, but don’t let it put you off. A good read nevertheless, maybe a slightly average story made better by a great author.
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(contains spoilers)

I'm a big Stephen King and although this one had its moments, it wasn't one of his best.

That said, it was 700 pages long and held my attention throughout so it was enjoyable enough thanks to King's accessible prose. I also felt a real sense of place; the Nevada desert and ghost town were well described and realised, and King's descriptions of the beasts that dwell there were also very good. In fact, the book is at its best when the protagonists find an abandoned movie theatre and hunker down to avoid a raging storm; there was a intimacy and atmosphere to the novel at this point and I really enjoyed it.

Conversely, the characters here are stock King creations; wunderkind (David), alcoholic writer (Johnny), the solid guy (Steve) and a few others, none of them were particularly likeable or memorable; Johnny is almost unbearable and David is so earnest and both are very grating. The main bad guy (or thing) terrorising them is Tak; a evil spirit disturbed whilst mining the Nevada hills that can enter the body of people and control them; compared to King's other bad guys like Flagg and Pennywise (Shudder!) it isn't great and the novel suffers for it.

King is always a easy read but he's usually a lot more fun and clever than this.

6/10
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This has never been one of my favourite SK books, but it's still ahead of the other King wannabes by a country mile

Gripping plotline, well rounded characters that develop throughout the story and the usual insightful writing that shows the authors understanding of the human condition.

I make a point of not giving a synopsis of the books I review - I don't think my interpretation of a novel is any good to anyone but me. It's also a guaranteed way of sneaking in to another reader's imagination and colouring it.

If you enjoy excellent writing, are prepared to suspend disbelief and don't mind a little gore, this is definitely one to read
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