I had a hard time trying to get myself to read Stephen King. I don’t know why. I guess mostly because I knew that he wrote horror and thriller novels and I’m not great with horror movies. I was convinced by a friend that books can never be as scary as something visual, such as a movie. There’s no way someone could describe the gore of The Living Dead remake! That blood raining down? The way a possessed girl slices her tongue in half? No book could ever describe that. I guess I was also torn because as a huge movie buff, I was torn between to loves: the cinema and literature. But I gave King a chance because as an English major, I know that the written word is true power.
My first novel by Stephen King was The Shining. I only picked this first because I watched the movie, which apparently was Kubrick and not enough King. In fact, I’m sure I read about how King did his own mini-series of the novel and it is very different. As someone that watched the movie first, it was not the scariest movie I’ve ever seen and it was not the goriest movie I’ve ever seen. But as a movie-lover, it was a cinematic masterpiece and, I’m sorry for the suffering Shelley Duvall went through, but she definitely delivered a chilling performance. Once again, as an English major, I knew I had to give the book a shot because the movie rarely does the book any justice. This was true with The Shining. I mean, the detail that goes into the novel goes beyond the movie. Not to mention some really important details about some random sequences thrown into the movie. The scariest and most haunting part of the film was the man dressed as a dog providing services to a man. Random? No, it is explained in the book! You would never truly understand the importance unless you read it, so I’m not sharing any explanations. But even though the book was amazing, it wasn’t the scariest book I ever read and I did stand by the claim that the book can’t provide the visuals like a movie.
Until Pet Semetary.
In one of my college classes, we read Pet Sematary. This book is crawling with twists and turns. It is disturbing but you can’t put it down! I already hate cats but this book will make you hate cats even more or make you skeptical about the furry feline rubbing up against your leg. I obviously don’t want to give too much away because you should really go out an buy the book, perhaps the physical copy? Anyway, there are some horrific things that happen in this novel that I can’t begin to explain. I honestly had a hard time getting through it. I think because the novel works with such personal themes of family, it is hard to pass off as just fiction. There are raw details in this novel that make it much more real. The professor teaching this class told us that King did not even want to publish this novel. It just sat in a drawer for a while until it somehow got published. Now, I never did a fact check on my professor but I believer her and I understand why King wouldn’t want this published. Now, there is a song by The Ramones that is the same as the title. You can watch the music video but it definitely doesn’t do the book justice and you don’t understand why The Ramones even recorded the song unless you read the book.
There is a movie version of Pet Sematary and it is kind of old from 1989. Keep in mind, the movie was made in 1989. But for what it’s worth, the movie is pretty good. Of course, in true book to movie fashion, the ending is a little different but I don’t completely write it off. I think if there would ever be a remake it could definitely be pretty good. Get the right actors involved and it could really be something. Plus, we have the amazing CGI effects. Sorry, I’m so off topic, but the bottom line is: the book is better.
In order to leisurely read anymore Stephen King, I had to get my diploma because it was nearly impossible to read anything else but the books assigned. But I finally continued my Stephen King kick with a classic, Cujo. Everyone always says after Pet Sematary that Cujo is his next best book. I definitely think that King is the only mastermind that could describe a certain character holding their intestines in their hands in such detail. It’s a pretty suspenseful book and at one point, I literally couldn’t put it down. I’m sure it’s the same in other copies, but mine had no chapters. There were only large breaks. That was such a smart tactic because it helps with transitions to different characters and you never want to stop reading. I usually help pace myself by waiting for a chapter or I tell myself I’ll put the book down after this chapter. But nope! There are no chapters! There is no stopping! I really loved this book. I think it’s amazing how he takes so many characters and storylines but meshes them together. For me, Cujo exemplifies that everything happens for a reason. Even if it is something tragic. Even if it something horrific.
Overall, I think that King knows how to really write a story. His movies are difficult to be made into a movie because the detail he puts into each character is so important. Every word matters and he has a lot of words. This is just a side thought, but I also love how he follows the old cliche “write what you know” but he takes what he knows and makes it better. He writes about Main, where he lives, but the way he uses Maine is so creative and crafted. At one point, I definitely thought Stephen King was overrated but don’t be like me and ignore his amazing work. After all, there’s a reason he has so many amazing titles that are New York Times Bestsellers.