Top critical review
A good book to study as a writer!
on 2 November 2015
This is one of the most difficult reviews I've had to write. But before I go into that, a spooky story happened to me just after I started writing this book. For some reason, at about page 80, I stalled on reading the book because I was too busy at work and I wasn't really enjoying it. I went away on business for a night and stayed in a suite at the Marriott Swindon hotel and on arriving at the suite, there was a strong smell of antiseptic/Germolene in the bedroom which, upon thorough investigation, the hotel manager could not locate the source or provide and explanation for the very pungent smell. So I climbed into bed and picked up The Shining to read before going to sleep. And on page 86, it mentioned the horrible things happening in room 217. So you can imagine my horror the next morning when I checked out of the hotel that the receptionist handed me a copy of my bill with the Suite's name printed next to the room number - 217!! Aaaarrrrggghhh......
Anyway, back to the review, I desperately wanted to enjoy this book for several reasons:
1. It's a Stephen King book so it's bound to be good
2. I've always wanted to read a Stephen King book and this one is one of his most famous
3. I really enjoyed his book 'On Writing' so I thought I would learn a lot about how to write a novel
So where to start?
Well from a structural perspective, this book hits all the beats of a horror/thriller novel - a 'monster', an enclosed space, vulnerable characters, threat of death. I enjoyed analysing the beats and doing a post-mortem on the set-up and payoffs, foreshadowing etc. If I was to rate the book on this quality alone, it would be 5/5.
The characters of Wendy and Danny were enjoyable to read and I rooted for them both from start to finish. Even Jack - I wanted him to overcome his inner demons once and for all so he could be the man he desperately wanted to be. I now want to read Danny's continued story in Doctor Sleep and on my list for the 2016 reading challenge.
Pace - I found it terribly slow at the start and really until about 80% of the way into the book. It lacked real tension until this point and some of the descriptions were too long and prolonged the telling of the story. That said, some of the descriptions were fantastic - very graphic and sensory and I learned a lot about descriptive writing from those paragraphs.
Tension - there was a hint of terrible things lurking round corners throughout the book but it was only in the last 20% of the novel that the tension built to pressure cooker level. I really enjoyed the last 100 pages. But I only got to that point by sheer perseverance and the determination not to give up on a Stephen King book.
I feel like I've been a bit harsh with my 3 star rating but it does reflect the points above and my overall enjoyment of the novel.