Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Bummers

Blood, gore, demons, and demented characters . . .  These are themes that abound this time of year, but I am not a Halloween fan - in fact I pretty much skip the whole thing now that I don't have kids at home.  Thanks to two highly anticipated novels, I've had way more than my share this October, starting with Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall.  Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. (from book cover)

The friend who recommended this series said "Prepare to be addicted."  I slogged through 27 cd's waiting for the addictive part, but all I found were throat slashings, stabbings, severed bodies and heads on spikes.  True, there were a lot of plots and counterplots, but none of them made me wonder "what's next"?  This series is now a hit TV show, which I haven't watched, but I can't image how it translates to TV.  Not a hit with me.

Next was Stephen King's Doctor Sleep.  I pre-ordered my copy months before it's release and, when that copy was back-ordered, bought the Nook version because I couldn't wait to start. I even joined a read-along group so I could discuss it with other readers.  
Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death. (from book cover)
 I read Section I, just over 100 pages, and had to give up.  I'll admit, I read The Shining over 30 years ago, when it first came out, and maybe my memory isn't what it should be, but I recall it being psychological terror - the effects of isolation.  When this story involved kidnapping and torturing a child, I called it quits.  There is so much real-life horror in the world, I just can't fill any more time, space and energy with imagined carnage. 

Recovery from alcoholism also played a large part in at least the first section of this book.  I can't begin to get inside Mr. King's head (thank heaven) but I assume that writing about Dan's battle with alcohol was in some way therapeutic for his own struggle with alcohol.  One of my other favorite authors, Lawrence Block, attempted a similar catharsis through writing alcohol recovery into one of his popular series.  I couldn't finish that book either.  Somehow, one person's experience with AA and their inner demons doesn't translate to the page - or perhaps it just doesn't translate to me.  Either way, it translates into too much work to read.  I can't believe I put Stephen King in the DNF pile!

1 comment:

  1. I've had mixed feelings about Doctor Sleep. I did enjoy The Shining but, like you, I read it 30 years ago. I recall it being a lot about psychological terror, too. I suppose, given all of those ghosts, there may have been some discussion about the ways they died but I don't recall it. And I was a different reader then. I'm not into the physical assaults either; you're so right, we get enough of that in real life.