Saturday, June 21, 2014

German engineering

Stephen King keeps doing this thing where he writes really awesome books and then I read them and then I'm done reading them and I'm sad. Not because the books he writes are sad (though sometimes they are) but because I'm all out of new book to read. Whenever a new Gaiman or Gibson or Stephenson or King book comes out I'm incredibly giddy right up until I realize that it's all gone and I have to wait for the author to write some more.

I suppose this is a problem that many avid readers have.

When I first found Mr. Mercedes I nearly bought it on the spot while trying to kick myself for not knowing that King had a new book out. I resisted the temptation for both the purchase and the kicking and waited until my mom gave me a Barnes & Nobel coupon which I then combined with a member discount and a gift card. I may really love reading but I'm also really cheap.

But anyway, the book.

The story is fun, and pretty fast-paced. Mercedes is somewhat shorter than many King novels, coming in at just over four hundred pages, and the story isn't any more expansive than it ever has to be so it's surprisingly trim.

Some of the King trademarks seem to be missing; the characters aren't as aggressively developed as King characters often are and I think that takes away a bit from the novel. There's also something a little bit strange going on with diction with one character in particular that is potentially offensive, though I think it may just seem offensive because the character isn't as deeply developed as secondary characters usually are in King's hands.

It's also pretty clear that the main character's confusion about computers is shared by the author. Crumbs in the keyboard won't cause a screen to freeze and I don't have any idea how you'd get peanut butter in a CPU (most people who are technically incompetent enough to smear peanut butter on computer components are too technically incompetent to get access to the part of the box that has important components in it). That lack of knowledge is troubling because there are at least a few characters who are supposed to be good with computers. King admits in the acknowledgements that this is his fault and his fault alone but it is still distracting.

Other than those minor problems the novel is, by and large, very good. There's a lot of control, chaos, darkness, and madness explored here. The contest of wills between a retired cop and a supposedly retired mass murderer is fraught with suspense and, I will admit, nearly kept me home from work so that I could read it in one sitting.

Well worth picking up if you're a fan of King, and by far a better book than some of his recent efforts.

Also, look at how awesome that cover is!

     - Alli

King, Stephen. Mr. Mercedes. Scribner. New York: New York. 2014.

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