Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Mist by Stephen King

November Novella Challenge is underway and we finished our first selection, Stephen King's The Mist, while traveling over the weekend. We had mixed reactions.

A bazaar and unearthly fog moves across a small town in Maine, bringing with it a circus of prehistoric and fantastical creatures which spring out of the mist to devour whatever gets in their road. A group of locals and vacationers are trapped in a supermarket, devising various escape and survival plans.

Like all Stephen King stories, the pace was fast. Only once did we feel him "rabbit trailing" and then only for a couple pages. The background info on the main character, David Drayton, and his feelings of inadequacy as an artist when compared to his famous father may have been pertinent and useful in a full length novel, but in this formula there wasn't time to develop the character that far, so only served to slow things down.

The various cliques that developed among the refugees trapped in the market were an intriguing microcosm of society: the "flat-earthers" who chose to deny that anything was happening, the blood sacrifice group which was willing to sacrifice someone to appease the evil - as long as it wasn't one of them, those who just sat back and allowed others to make all the decisions...

Of course the gore level was too much for me (Tami) but I had to concede that point somewhat on the grounds of "What did you expect from Stephen King? If you don't want gore, don't open the book." However, even the gore was freakishly fascinating in it's originality. No two people were decapitated, dismembered or disemboweled in quite the same manner. Definitely no points off for predictability.

Our biggest complaint was the ending - or lack thereof. King has a tendency to let his readers form their own ideas of what happened to the creatures he creates, and that approach is great - in theory. But we had a serious desire to call Mr. King and ask, "But what about....???"

Starting with a scale of 5 stars for the perfect book, I took off a point for gore and a point for frustrating ending - but then had to give back a half-point because it wasn't like I wasn't warned in advance that there would be blood (I read every King book I could get my hands on in the 70's). So I rated this novella as 3 1/2 stars. Dave - who uses King's Gunslinger series as the gold standard for the 5-star book - only gave it 3 stars. "The measure of a good book is you can't stand to put it down and can't wait to pick it back up. I couldn't wait to get home from work to get to the next chapter of the Gunslinger books, but I didn't have that feeling with this one."

On to the next novella on our challenge list: Animal Farm by George Orwell.

1 comment:

  1. Well, it definitely sounds like it was a good choice for Halloween!