I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Okay, so I went into reading this book with the worst possible expectations. First of all, horror is NOT my favorite genre. At all. This is the third horror novel that I have read, and while the other two were good for the genre, they were not exactly my favorite books, so I wasn't really looking forward to reading it. But, it was on my book club's reading list, so of course I decided to give it a shot. Well, my expectations were worsened when I told one of my friends that I was about to read it, and her response was "Ew. That is one of the ONLY books that I haven't finished because it was so disturbing." So that got me even more freaked out. And the cherry on top of this lovely cake of dread was when my friend who was leading the book for the book club - who LOVES horror novels - said that it was one of the most terrifying books that she'd ever read. So by the time I finally started this book, I was extremely unenthusiastic about it, to say the least.
Well, then when I actually read it, I was pleasantly surprised. The first section is really pretty tame and it's actually pretty interesting. It's remarkably well-written - I've come to the conclusion that Stephen King is a literary genius - and the really cool thing was that you actually get to see the creative process. I think that the main character is somewhat based on King himself, and as the story follows him writing a story, you get to see King's own writing process, which is fascinating. The story line is very original and to my surprise, for the most part, I legitimately enjoyed reading this.
The major, major caveat to that is it really is a very disturbing book. The violence in it is described in excruciating detail and if you have a vivid imagination or you're skittish about violence, you may want to stay away from this one. What helped me more than anything is I actually was reading reviews on goodreads and accidentally came across a review with a MAJOR spoiler alert - I actually read about the most disturbing act of violence in this review - and while for most people, that would probably really upset them (as it would me in most cases), in this particular case it actually really helped because I knew what was coming and was prepared for it, and since I was prepared for it, I was able to appreciate how well it was written. For people who may be hesitant about reading this and might want to be forewarned about this particular part, I'm going to include that spoiler at the very end of my review, preceded, of course, by another spoiler alert for those who may not want to have this part of the story revealed to them before reading it for themselves.
I decided to give this book 3 stars, because, although it was very well-written and was fascinating to read, I didn't particularly like reading it. I didn't enjoy the content of this book and I doubt that I'll read it again. It's very violent and definitely messes with your head. Based purely on content, I would probably have given this book only 1 star. King's amazing skill with writing is what saved this book from such a low review. I wish that he had chosen to concentrate his skill on a more pleasant topic, but even so, this book was phenomenally written, and based purely on that I would have given it 5 stars. So I decided to give it 3, since that's in the middle.
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Okay so at the end of section two, Annie (the crazy woman who helps/kidnaps Paul, the main character) decides to punish him for trying to escape by chopping off his foot with an ax and a blowtorch. He does survive but obviously he's gone through some pretty significant physical and psychological trauma. This section is described in lots and lots of detail and it's pretty difficult to read. However, it is VERY well-written, and, in my experience, since I knew it was coming beforehand, it was much easier to get through and I could appreciate Stephen King's style and technique even though the content was quite awful.