Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
Having read just over half of King's books, I have to say that Desperation ranks up there with Wizard and Glass as one of my favorites. That said, this book is not for the shallow or the feint of heart. Desperation is a tale of hope and love in the darkest hour--and the hour is dark indeed. Desperation is a desert town in Nevada. This place, where on the good days the people can be 'intense,' has been turned into a wasteland by an ancient evil. A group of unsuspecting strangers drawn to the town must survive their encounter with this force and in the process make a decision that will forever change their lives. King's set-up to this story is long, gruesome, and grim. There are parts that any decent person will recoil from--as they should. The evil in this book is not glamorous; it is evil in its most fallen and base form. Once the dark 'collecting' of the opening is through, the novel finally hits full stride. Good appears in the most unexpected form. Evil is engaged in a battle to the death. Usually 'good vs. evil' type novels suffer from too much of a 'black and white' didactic moralism. The beauty of Desperation is that the heroes of the novel must first engage the evil and good within themselves before they can lift a finger to fight the real enemy. King never fails to amaze me with the craft of his words and his honest description of the glory and shame of being human. Desperation is a stand alone novel. However, it ties in (as do many of King's novels) with the Dark Tower series. It also has a bizarro 'sister book' in the late Richard Bachman's The Regulators. I give Desperation my heartfelt, highest recommendation--don't be scared off by a little blood and guts. There is a lot of despair, desperation and cruelty in these pages. There is also faith, hope, and most importantly--love.
1996 must have been a heady year for Stephen King--coming off the critical and commercial success of his excellent six part serial, The Green Mile, he followed up with a pair of hard hitting, well-written novels, Desperation and The Regulators. Desperation was clearly his best work since Misery. The Regulators, written under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman, was less successful, but pleasurable reading nonetheless.
The Regulators is King's version of the classic Twilight Zone adaptation of Jerome Bixby's It's a Good Life. The denizens of Poplar Street, located in the small town of Wentworth, Ohio, find themselves sealed off from the rest of the world, trapped in a pocket universe created by the imaginings of an autistic child who has been possessed by a demon. Neighbors must band together to fight off killing machines that seem to have sprung from the television screen.
Desperation features many of the same characters who populated The Regulators, albeit in altered form. Desperation, a small mining town off Route 50 in Nevada, is also under attack by a demon, but here the devastation is far worse. Instead of tormenting a few folks, the demon, after destroying most of the town, has taken to pulling people off the highway to satisfy its perverse longings. Again, a disparate group of people must cooperate to save their lives.
The contrast between these books is startling--if you never noticed the difference between King's and Bachman's styles, reading these two books back to back will be a real eye opener. Bachman creates the aura of immediacy, but we never really get to know his characters. King, on the other hand, hews to his tradition of giving us characters we really care about, people we would like to get to know.Read more ›
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Having just slogged through "Bag Of Bones", my expectations for this book were pretty low. Basically, I was anticipating another seven hundred page turkey; my only real motive for reading it was making room on my bookshelf. Imagine my surprise to find it to be one of the best King novels I've ever read. At first, it looked like Jim Thompson-style noir. The villain, a six-foot seven small town Nevada psychotic cop, prowls U.S. 50, "the loneliest road in America", rounding up innocent motorists, kidnapping, imprisoning and killing them. So far, so good. The pure simplicity of such a storyline, especially in the hands of a master storyteller such as Steven King, can't fail to draw a reader in. The brute evil of Collie Entragian, the cop, combined with the isolation of the abandoned western mining town in which the story is set, creates a powerful, suspenseful conflict for the group of travellers Entragian has waylaid and locked up in the jail of the town of Desperation. But there's more. It soon becomes apparent that the supernatural is at work (what Steven King book would be complete without the supernatural?). Entragian speaks to the coyotes, buzzards, scorpions, spiders, snakes and other desert creatures in an unknown language, commanding them to help him carry out his nasty business. He has made good use of them so far, doing away with the entire population of Desperation, and will soon be turning his efforts against the travellers in his jail. For all of it's atmosphere and suspense, this novel is actually a return by King to the exploration of good versus evil, the nature of God and the mystery of faith which he delved into in "The Stand".Read more ›