Book #20

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

In Derry, Maine, four young boys once stood together and did a brave thing. Something that changed them in ways they hardly understand.
A quarter of a century later, the boys are men who have gone their separate ways. Though they still get together once a year, to go hunting in the north woods of Maine. But this time is different. This time a man comes stumbling into their camp, lost, disoriented and muttering about lights in the sky.
Before long, these old friends will be plunged into the most remarkable events of their lives as they struggle with a terrible creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past - and in the Dreamcatcher.

I’d like to begin by stating I am immensely relieved to have come to the end of this novel. Not only was getting through the plot an arduous journey in itself, the physicality of the mammoth hardback edition I chose to read made life (and commuting) painfully difficult for a while. It could easily have been 300 pages shorter, and I’d have been saved a whole load of back pain, time, and frustration.

As someone who has only ever read the King greats (think The Shining, Misery, The Green Mile, that stuff), I have never been anything other than impressed with his work. Holy grey aliens from the skies, how the mighty can fall. This was awful.

For starters, although partial to the odd bit of sci-fi, I am yet to find a novel on aliens which really blows my knickers off. I knew I’d be slightly outside of my genre, but I was happy to take a risk. Turns out aliens aren’t actually the problem.

The plot was a mess. King dabbles in launching us backwards and forwards in time, showing the four guys as adults, then kids, then back again. I usually like this type of narrative, but it was completely chaotic, confusing, and mind-numbingly repetitive, with King showing us scenes numerous times, for which reason I am yet to determine.

A lot of the central storyline focuses around noxious farts and peoples’ arses with holes blown in them. There was too much of this, just too much. We understood; we got it. Stop describing the smell of farts, please.

His characters also left a lot to be desired. With barely any depth to them, they’re plunged into this nightmare, pontificating, skiing, reading minds, killing extraterrestrial beings, and the whole time I just thought, so fuck. I didn’t care what happened to them. I didn’t know them. I was completely and utterly bored.

I also want to mention the racist and ableist remarks which spilled from the characters mouths infrequently. Although racist characters are a given when telling certain stories, there was absolutely no need for any of this here in order to characterise. It added nothing, other than a slight feeling of your teeth being set on edge. The characters’ treatment of a disabled boy, although masqueraded as a heroic friendship, also wasn’t quite treated as it should be. Some remarks were simply disgraceful, and I checked out.

I’m left with this question: has King now reached such heights of stardom that they will literally publish anything? He’s an excellent storyteller, and he’s proven that. But this book is like the alien disease our characters fought so hard to keep contained - who the fuck let this one out into the wild?