The Dark Tower

Pere Don Callahan had once been the Catholic Priest of a town – ‘Salem’s Lot had been its name – that no longer existed on any map.

I did it, I finished it – all seven of them. I’ve changed sides and am one of Those that Read Them now (applicably for many other book (series) of course). I’m done, and I feel slightly run over.

I don’t often review series, especially following books, because I feel like you won’t start a series if it’s only the third (etc.) installment that interests you, nor that it’s easy to discuss plot lines without spoiling those still starting. But it’s been five minutes since I’ve finished the last book and I need to get things off my lower ribs (it’s always my lower ribs over my chest).

For a large part of the last novel, I felt impatience and frustration. Because honestly, how much more world-building is necessary, how many pus-filled pimples on villains need to be described. I was still a bit uneasy about the meta twist of things (Stephen King getting involved), and basically felt almost as tired as Ronald to just get to that damn tower.

I’m glad I stuck with it. No novel is supposed to be stale, and even though you could view some decisions as made for shock value, you might realise that the ending motivates all those decisions made. And what an ending.

So this isn’t really a review for a series, it’s for the ending(s) of one.

The Dark Tower, Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton 2004

Black Swan Green

Do not set foot in my office.

How do you review a book in which “just” life happens? Teenage life, to up the ante?

In this semi-autobiographical bildungsroman (Wikipedia’s words, not mine) the reader looks over the shoulder and into the mind of Jason Taylor, a child in the early eighties. At first he’s a floater, not a hero but not a loser either. Things happen and he sinks to the bottom of the food chain. Bullying wasn’t more or less cruel in past years, it still destroys a life.

I really like David Mitchell’s work, how complicated and intricate the story lines are. With some authors it’s risky of them to move from adult to YA/teenager stories, but with Black Swan Green it never feels like Mitchell keeps his foot on the brake or dumbed down his style. There is a feeling of magic realism to all of it, without any hint of the supernatural. The stories of the ordinary, viewed through a new lens.

Black Swan Green, David Mitchell, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 2006

11.22.63

I have never been what you’d call a crying man.

Stephen King is one of those authors I’d like to read more from, but somehow never end up doing so. But with 11.22.63 came time travel, and if there’s something I’m fond of ..

Jake Epping is the time traveler who can move back to 1958 by stepping into ..something in the back of a diner. Whenever he goes back to 2011 the past overwrites and he can start over again, but he’s not traveling for that. He wants to prevent president Kennedy from being killed. Because that doesn’t happen for another five years, he has to fit in. Become a person of the sixties and lay low, because the past doesn’t want to be changed.

Jake (George, in the past) fits in, maybe a bit too well. He gets a job, he gets friends and falls in love. More and more he gets entangled in this version of the world, while at the same time he wants to keep his distance. He’s here for something very important after all and doesn’t want to spend another five years doing it again if he fails. Because of that there’s this underlying tension throughout a large part of the book that itches underneath your skin. I liked that, because you know there’s something building up and either way how it ends, a lot will change. It also makes you take the story with you even after you closed the book.

I wish that the book was like the story, so that every time I’d start again there’d be a slightly different story. I need to get another chance for a different ending. I finished this book four days ago but it’s still moving through my head. And I like that.

11.22.63, Stephen King Hodder & Stoughton 2011