The Stand by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 9/14/20-9/26/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

When I asked my Facebook for Stephen King recommendations, almost everyone encouraged me to read this book. I put it on the back burner because it was over a thousand pages, and that’s a commitment I wasn’t ready for, but I finally took it on, and man is it good.

It seems like a normal day until a man named Campion, in a car with his wife and daughter, drove through gas pumps in Texas. Campion was working for a secret government project that focused on making a “superflu” that was incredibly contagious and extremely fatal. From the 4 men who found the bodies of the Campions, a terribly quick domino effect infected the entire world. After a few weeks, very few people were left, and those that were had dreams of a farm in Nebraska.

So at this point, we follow a bunch of survivors as they come to terms with their new reality. For the sake of posting a readable review, I’m not going to breakdown the characters unless I truly think that it will affect the rest of the review.

To narrow down this story into a simple sentence, this book is a game of good vs evil, specifically God vs. Satan. Since so much happens in this book, I’m not going to go into more specifics, but like, 1000 pages worth of stuff happens, so it’s a lot. Compared to the other books I have read by King, this book was probably the best, though it is A COMMITMENT.

Reading this book in a pandemic is interesting to say the least. The beginning of the book was rough, mainly because I saw a lot of parallels between how the government handled the superflu in the book with how the US handled the coronavirus in real life. Once the flu has eradicated the majority of the Earth, it gets a little easier to stomach.

Into my personal preferences, I enjoyed this book more than the other ones of King’s I have read. Part of that was that it was based on a theme that we see in A LOT of other books, so I had a point of reference as to where the story was going. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending, but you win some you lose some. Since I listened to the majority of this book as an audiobook, I definitely zoned out many times. There are a lot of characters that we follow, and many of their storylines are red herrings for the actual story. It is easy to get lost in them, but that is one of the things that King excels at in his writing. It’s a Catch-22, because if he didn’t give those characters light, we would already know where the story was heading. It keeps the story interesting by just inundating the reader with details about every character.

Now to a rating. I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t say that this book was the greatest thing I have ever read. I stand by my rating for Doctor Sleep, so I’m going to give this book 4.25 out of 5 stars, but that might be a little generous for my liking.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/4/20-9/10/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

I debated with myself a lot about whether or not I should make separate posts for this book and The Shining. While the main character is the same in these two novels, the large majority of this book is its own entity, so I felt like it deserved its own review.

Following the events at the Overlook Hotel, Dan finds himself falling into his father’s footsteps, becoming a raging alcoholic in his adult years. When an event happens that Dan can’t seem to shake, he takes off, ending up in New Hampshire. Thanks to his shine, Dan finds a place to live in the small town called Fraser, where he also finds the help he needs to get off the drink. But soon Dan meets Abra, or at least her mind. See, Abra also has the shine, but hers is so much stronger than his, even when they first meet when she was 2 months old. I feel like I am describing this really badly, but I also don’t know how to describe this better.

Abra ended up having a nightmare where she saw a young boy (called the “baseball boy”) getting tortured and killed by a group of vampire-esque people. Again, hard to explain without reading the book, but these people, called the True Knot, are eternal people who survive off of people’s shine, most often children. Struggling with this information, Abra searched out Dan in her mind to figure out how to rectify this situation. They began to formulate a plan in order to both protect Abra while also finding a way to break down the True Knot so that they can no longer hurt children.

And while I have given probably a terrible synopsis of this story, I am going to leave this one here. As someone who has read both books, I can say that each book could stand on their own, meaning that even if you didn’t read The Shining, you could probably, based on the context clues given about the first book, be able to fully understand everything that is being explained in this book. I also think that The Shining is complete without needing to read Doctor Sleep. I will also say, I think The Shining is more of a horror story, while Doctor Sleep is more thriller-esque (imo), which is part of the main reason I see these books as worth separate reviews.

When it comes to forming an opinion on this book, I keep finding myself comparing to the first book. This book (and to an extent The Shining) are more within my range of books I like. I am quickly realizing that King enjoys writing about telepathy, which is something that I find intriguing, but am quickly feeling is played out. I’m not sure if I just ended up picking the lucky few of his books that feature this element, but of the 5 King books I have read in my life, 4 of them have a telepathic/telekinetic theme (The Institute, Dreamcatcher, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep all have this element, Under the Dome (404: review not found) is the only one at the time of writing this review that does not, as far as I can remember). This book, since written in a different era, also no longer has the many problematic things that I noticed within The Shining. All in all, it was a really good thriller (and book for that matter), but some of its legs to stand on are a little overplayed and outdated. Ultimately, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Shining by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 8/31/20-9/3/20

How I Found It: Personal Recommendation

FINALLY! I was really starting to question whether I should do a Stephen King month, but finally we found one of his books I really enjoyed. At the time of writing this, I’m not sure if Doctor Sleep will be part of this review yet, but I’m hoping that this will be a good precedent for the rest of the King books I have planned.

When Jack Torrence loses his job, he takes his wife, Wendy, and 5-year-old son, Danny, up to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Overlook Hotel. As the hotel is getting shut down for the season, Danny talks to the cook, Dick Halloran, about his ability to see glimpses of the future and to know what people are thinking. Dick informs him that he has that ability too, and his mother called it “The Shining”. Since Danny has a much stronger Shining, they make a plan to call Dick if he is ever needed and he will come. And I know that this all seems like really useless information, especially because I won’t really touch on it later in the review since, ya know, I can’t give you too many spoilers, but I think you could figure this one out.

So this hotel. With a very bloody history. the hotel is fraught with ghosts of its past (see that SAT word there?). Immediately, we feel the dark presence(s) that are in the hotel, which provides this really creepy haze over the story. And then we get these paranormal experiences (which I am not going to explain for maximum creepiness when you read it) that definitely activated my goosebumps while I was at work.

Jack has a history of being an alcoholic, and with the added stress of the hotel, he is constantly going back to his habits from when he would drink. Sadly (or not), the hotel is completely dry, so he is continuing to struggle with his need for a drink with his inability to get one. On top of that, the longer that he is in the hotel, the more his anger comes out, causing him to react at a pindrop. It becomes so much that Wendy and Danny want off the mountain, but the sheer amount of snow prevents them from doing so.

And while I need to stop because I will keep talking and giving away WAY too much, this book is super creepy and fun to read. And while I am giving this book a lot of praise, let’s get into some nitty gritty things. This book was published in 1977, which means that some things that could easily be ignored then can’t be as easily ignored now, so read at your discretion. I will also say that I think a lot of my praise comes from reading his other novels and not being overly impressed. However, this is a solid book, and I am so happy that I finally found one of his books enjoyable.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 8/12/20-8/15/20

How I Found It: Facebook/ Personal Recommendation

Okay, so normally I wouldn’t give you guys a heads up this is what I think is going to happen, but here’s my heads up this is what I think is going to happen. So, SPOILER ALERT? Maybe?

At the current moment, I am at the end of chapter 11, which translates to about 9 and a half hours of listening. Now, I have only read Under the Dome and The Institute (which the latter is a review on this site), have never seen a Stephen King novel adapted into a movie or TV show (other than Under the Dome, I definitely watched Under the Dome, mainly for Colin Ford), but I have a pretty good idea of what Stephen King endings are like. So, with a finger wag of a eureka moment into the air, my primary assumption of this book is that the main guys’ friend, Duddits, was the home for an alien species, and since Duddits has leukemia, I am assuming that he is the reason why the alien stuff is going on. With all that being said, I also think that the book will end by the alien fungal stuff or whatever being killed (potentially by a big wildfire), and since the fungal stuff is killed, Duddits died. Quote me on it, this is my prediction made on August 13th, 2020 at 8:04 PM EST. So, by the power of the Internet, I will see you guys once I finish the book, which will only be a page break for you guys.

Hi, I’m done now. Okay, so my guess was not completely off, but wasn’t great either. But not the point of this review, let’s get into it. Firstly, this book is about aliens, and describes very aggressive bodily harm in extreme detail. If those are triggering for you, then maybe this ain’t for you, chief.

So there’s these 4 guys, Beaver, Jonesy, Pete, and Henry. They were friends from middle school, connected by a friendship from the early 80s with a boy named Douglas (goes by Duddits). They go hunting in Jackson Hole in Maine, USA when a guy named Rick approaches their hunting cabin. Quickly, things hit the fan as a creepy alien-thing that looks a lot like a weasel drags itself out of Rick’s number two hole. Yea, it’s gross. Oh, and there’s like UFOs and the government starts freaking out. So, I don’t really want to tell you who lives and who dies here, but uh, we are only going to talk about Henry and Jonesy now.

So Jonesy gets possessed (?) by the alien called Mr. Gray. But Jonesy is immune, so he doesn’t completely lose his brain function to the alien, causing a huge conflict. But Mr. Gray is essentially just trying to infect the water supply, thereby eradicating the human race as we know it. Which like, I got some issues here. Firstly, aliens supposedly have had UFOs in this are for decades, and they still decided this is where they are going to stake their claim? They know what the weather is like, and they are acting all surprised when the fungus can’t grow in the weather. HUGE plot hole in my opinion.

Right, Henry. So Henry, realizing that Jonesy is dealing with his own demons, goes to try and find him. But he finds himself in the middle of the military outpost. With the help of a military man, Owen Underhill, Henry gets out of the post, and they are quickly searching for Jonesy. For the sake of having a better connection, they go to find Duddits, using his connections to get inside of Jonesy’s head.

Right, there’s this ESP thing going on. Apparently Duddits had ESP for a really long time, and the fungus also gives you ESP. So when the two are put together, it gets really strong. And we are just supposed to accept that homeboy can hear people’s minds and get into them. IDK man, Stephen King is weird. (Side note: I was looking for a gif from a Smosh video where Shayne Topp yells “Stephen King”, but was unable to find one. Please know, I care about you guys enough to try tweeting out into the universe so I could get it).

As for my thoughts, maybe I’m just not an alien person. Like, aliens are cool and I totally think they exist, even if not the whole blue-humanoid-ET-phone-home, but I believe in life on another planet in another galaxy. But I just don’t enjoy books where we make aliens into horror tropes, I guess. Just not my cup of tea. With that in mind, I thought this book was good, but not something that I consider amazing. Character development is out of this world though. Take a lesson from Stephen King, make your characters as round as possible.

So the moment we are all waiting for: I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Institute by Stephen King

How I Read It: Audiobook/Print

Dates Read: 10/4/19-10/8/19

A week and a half ago, I was in the car with my dad to go get groceries (I know, cool story bro). My dad is also an Audible addict (put that on a shirt!), so I was forced to listen to this book. A few days later, he comes home and tells me that I need to read this book, and I was hesitant. I read Under the Dome a couple of years ago, and I was completely unimpressed with the ending. Trusting that my father, who had to listen to my complaints the first time and wouldn’t do me dirty this time around, I purchased the book, and ultimately the audiobook thanks to my complete lack of self-control.

Okay, so we got this dude, named Tim Jamieson. He was a cop in Sarasota, until he fired a gun in a mall in an effort to stop a fight. No one was killed, but a bystander was injured, effectively ending his career there. He planned to go up to New York to do security work, but he ended up losing his seat on his flight, causing him to begin hitchhiking north. He meets a woman who gets him to DuPray, South Carolina, a hole-in-the-wall town in the southern part of the state. While there Tim gets a job as a night knocker with the police force.

Then we got this kid named Luke Ellis. Luke is a genius, with the opportunity to do a double enrollment at Harvard and Emerson at the age of 12. He had the habit of accidentally knocking empty pizza platters to the ground or turning pages without touching anything. These things did not go unnoticed, and one day a group came and kidnapped him, killing his parents in the process. Luke wakes up in a room that is like his room, but isn’t.

He leaves his room and finds other kids there. One of those kids is named Kalisha. Kalisha helped Luke meet the other kids, Nick, George, and Iris. They informed him that he was in the Institute, a facility in Maine that was testing kids who were TK (telekinetic) or TP (telepathic). They often give “shots for dots”. meaning that they give you shots that are both supposed to help see dots and suppress them. Those dots help build the TP/TK power. They also use an immersion tank, which is supposed to bring you close to death so you see more dots. Luke also meets Maureen, the housekeeper in charge of the kids in Front Half. When a kid is done testing in Front Half, they move to Back Half, where they are never seen from again.

Luke learns that Maureen is in need of financial help, so he begins researching ways of helping her. Since Luke continued to provide help for her, Maureen began to look at him as a son. She became very close to him and worked on finding ways to help him, even eventually calling him son.

A few days (weeks?) after Luke came to the Institute, a 10-year-old boy named Avery was brought there. He was extremely TP, and he could have full conversations with people in his mind. He had the mindset of a 6-year-old, and often wet himself and had to sleep with someone else in the bed. Kalisha took him under her wing, and soon Luke was also close to Avery.

When Kalisha was taken to Back Half, Luke took over for Kalisha with Avery. Luke was forced to do the Immersion Tank and his TP and TK powers became a lot stronger. With that information, and his ability to hide that from the people in charge, Luke begins to plan ways of escaping the Institute, using Avery as a sounding board and conspirator. Maureen provided an escape plan through Avery, and Luke was able to escape. As a distraction, Maureen killed herself in one of the kid’s rooms.

When they learn that Avery knew of Luke’s escape, he was forced to undergo the Immersion Tank. That process only honed in on his powers and gave him a resilience against the Institute. Avery was then taken to Back Half, where he realized that the more people they could get connected, the stronger everyone’s powers become. The Institute was using this information to kill terrorists, but Avery wanted to use this information to destroy the Institute from the inside.

Luke escapes down a river, which eventually led to a shore by railroad tracks. Luke was able to get inside a boxcar, which took him to Massachusetts, Virginia, and eventually DuPray. Luke meets Tim Jamieson, and using a flash drive containing a video from Maureen, he is able to convince him of the Institute. While in DuPray, an extraction team was called in to capture and return Luke to the Institute in Maine. That mission ultimately failed, but Luke wanted to find a way to save his friends in Maine, so he began making his chess moves to make that possible.

Okay, so I think that the book as a whole was extremely interesting and complex. At a whopping 557 pages, I was slightly disappointed that I was 100 pages in before we even met Luke Ellis. It seemed like there was way to much backstory on Tim Jamieson, but I also recognize that King was trying to set the story around its hero.

As for the story surrounding the Institute, I found the different areas slightly confusing, and I didn’t fully understand what they were saying about certain things until the last 100 or so pages (which probably was the intended effect). I did think that there could have been more focus on the workings of Back Half, but I think overall King did a good job of both describing the horrors and the power of the Institute.

I will say that I probably wouldn’t have gotten into this book if I hadn’t listened to the beginning on Audible. Once I got into Luke’s story, the book was a lot easier to get into, but Tim’s initial backstory would have deterred me from continuing with the book. With all that being said, I will ultimately give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!