Later by Stephen King

laterHaven’t read a Stephen King book for awhile, but this one was recommended by my brother and hey, by Stephen King standards this thing is practically a short story, running just under 250 pages which absolutely fly by. It has none of the padding and excess that weakens so much of Kings work- he’s always been a great writer in desperate need of a good editor in my opinion but there’s no such problems here; this book is tight and concise and pretty much has all Kings good points and few of the bad.

It also finds King on very familiar ground, with shades of his own The Dead Zone and The Shining and, as commented upon in the story itself, the Brice Willis film The Sixth Sense (I suppose one could describe this as King’s own spin on the latter). The main character is a child who realises he can see and speak to the recently dead, a ghoulish talent that finds surprising exploits as he grows up. Its probably assisted by being published as part of the Hard Case Crime imprint, which is dedicated to pulpish crime potboilers and therefore the book is not being essentially sold as a standard Stephen King horror yarn. I actually kept on expecting the crime element to come more to the fore when it really doesn’t; its there but not as much as the cover painting might suggest.

As a piece of pulp horror in the guise of a crime potboiler its really, really good, and as I have noted its brevity is perhaps its best asset. Its so easy when reading this to imagine King going off on a tangent or two and spreading the same storyline over 600 pages or more but thankfully he doesn’t, although perhaps the endearing main character and the clever premise might have some of Kings hardcore fans wishing it was indeed a 600-page opus.

My chief concern with the paperback edition I read was some bad proof-reading, as there are some pretty glaring typos that really should be unforgivable in this day and age- or is it rather indicative of how books are electronic files these days and such things are somehow easier to creep in (when I would have thought the opposite was true)? I just find them very irritating- there’s a few instances of sentences missing words, breaking the syntax although when reading it your brain will likely fill in the blank, hardly noticing (I grimaced at one and asked Claire to read the paragraph and she didn’t even notice it until I showed her- which is an interesting point perhaps regards how our brains work when reading).

I’ll not go into the plot or its twists/developments as they are the rewards of reading the story. Suffice to say this is a great little read that doesn’t out-stay its welcome, I really quite enjoyed it. Wouldn’t surprise me though if it turned out to be the start of a series…

3 thoughts on “Later by Stephen King

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