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on September 1, 2011
You'll probably hear this a lot in the coming days and throughout what's bound to be a long list of reviews, but I'm going to say it anyway because it's the truest thing I can think to say: MILE 81 is classic Stephen King.

With only a few exceptions, most of King's more recent work (everything since NEEDFUL THINGS really) has been more mysterious, paranormal, or suspenseful than horrific. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, and I've enjoyed most of what King's written from CARRIE all the way through FULL DARK, NO STARS, but MILE 81 is a welcome return to a purer kind of horror for those readers who fell in love with King back in the CUJO, CHRISTINE, and IT days. I'll save the plot rehashing for other reviewers, but I will say that I think this novelette is what King might have written if he'd gotten the idea for FROM A BUICK 8 25 years earlier.

It's a fantastic story. One of my favorite King stories of all time. And maybe that's all I really needed to say. If you're debating whether or not to buy this, stop. Go click that 1-Click button as fast as your fingers can move.

**Note: Although the novella earns a solid 5 stars from me (I'd give it ten if I could), the formatting could have used some more attention. There are missing section breaks, and the dedication--which should have been on a page of its own--comes immediately after the last line of the story. Somebody needs a slap on the wrist for that one. Or a kick in the teeth.

Also, MILE 81 ends at the 80% mark. What you get after that is a long excerpt from 11/22/63. That's just a heads-up for readers who like to know how close they are to the end of a story.

I'm not taking anything off my rating for those things, but I thought some of you might like to know.
1919 comments479 of 496 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Stephen King's story, MILE 81, is a delight for any of his readers with memories of the classic stuff - CHRISTINE and PET SEMETARY and CUJO and great stories like "The Mist" and "The Body." This is King at his best, with characters so real they remind you of people you've known for years. I've always felt King did his best work with his shorter fiction - here his prose is tight and perfect, giving the story itself a chance to both terrify and delight the reader.

MILE 81 is about a long-abandoned rest stop on Rt. 95 in Maine. Ten-year-old Pete Simmons, who has been left behind when his older brother runs off to play daredevil bike stunts, decides to explore the old rest stop to see if he can scare up an adventure of his own. What happens is something he never could have imagined. A succession of other travelers also pull into the rest stop, each investigating a strangely muddied station wagon inexplicably parked there. King's story is divided into sections, each one giving us a brief glimpse into the lives of these varied characters before they are sucked into the horror of what awaits at the Mile 81 rest stop.

The story is both colloquially fresh and intensely exciting. I liked Pete, and I understood him completely. I liked the others, too - insurance salesman Doug, horsewoman Julie, the Lussier family, and Jimmy the cop. These are real people who find themselves in Stephen King's "Twilight Zone" world on a perfectly ordinary afternoon. And you know it's true - horror seems more horrible when it happens in broad daylight, with the traffic whizzing by and the sun shining.

Great story - classic King. Highly recommended.
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on September 3, 2011
You know an author is deeply embedded into popular culture when he references one of his own books in a subsequent effort (and gets away with it). In Mile 81, King returns to the road and car covering ground similar to Christine and From a Buick 8 (the latter which is standout for me). This short story moves with speed and entertains but is not iconic King. There is no deep thinking or message here with the exception that good samaritans are often not well rewarded. Still worth it though - it is the perfect length for a quick road trip ... as long as the reader is not behind the wheel.
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on September 5, 2011
I just got my Kindle a few months ago and have been reading a lot of the lower priced (or free), self-published authors lately. While some of them have been decent, reading this story reminded me why I love and miss the work of Stephen King. There's just nobody quite like him. Anywhere. Not even close.

Not wanting to give anything away but as other reviewers -- who are obviously familiar with his body of work -- have stated, this is typical Stephen King. His stories make you smile, look over your shoulder, cringe, laugh, wrinkle your forehead, and say, "Are you serious?" -- all in the same story.

If you must have logic and tidy endings then perhaps this isn't the story for you. As for me, I appreciated the story; it suited me just fine.
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on October 4, 2011
I don't get all of the negative or even mediocre reviews. I was highly entertained and couldn't have predicted the ending. It definitely has a big "what the #$%& is going on here" feel to it, and I mean that in a good way, and it resolves itself in the end. Well done, Mr. King. I hope you keep pumping out short stories on Kindle!
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on October 6, 2011
With a few minor exceptions, I love most everything Stephen King has ever published. I was super excited to see this story, which I thought would be just right for a pre-bedtime reading session. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the end, I was so disappointed that I had a hard time falling asleep. I thought the writing was clunky, the plot disjointed and repetitive, the characters unbelievable, and the conclusion completely unsatisfying.

This is only only SK work I genuinely regret spending money on. I'd recommend people spend the extra few bucks and get one of his previous collections, like Night Shift (The Mangler, The Ledge, The Last Rung on the Ladder), Skeleton Crew (The Mist, Word Processor of the Gods, The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet), Everything's Eventual (The Man in the Black Suit, 1408, Riding the Bullet), or Just After Sunset (The Gingerbread Girl, Rest Stop, Stationary Bike).
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VINE VOICEon September 12, 2011
For a longish short story, "Mile 81" manages to cram in some decent characterizations (even among the several victims who are only briefly seen) and many scares. The scares, not so incidentally, are generated by a pretty well-crafted piece of imagination: essentially a monster from space who (at least currently) is shaped like a mud-spattered station wagon that's sitting alongside an abandoned rest stop like a Venus Fly Trap, just waiting for curiosity seekers to check it out.

The story reminded me of those small gems that the author routinely included in his periodic telephone book-sized anthologies of decades past: an efficient little story that gets the job done quickly but not by cheaping out on the richness or drama or that all-important creepiness. In this case, you'll never look at a moldy old station wagon again.

A cool bonus (and possibly the main reason this "Kindle Single" exists in the first place) is also included with one's purchase: a meaty little promotional excerpt from "11/22/63", Mr. King's novel about the JFK assassination and the time traveler who tries to prevent it. As rich and imaginative as Mr. King's short stories can be, it's his long, ambitious novels where those qualities will most often really shine. And from this excerpt, "11/22/63" doesn't look to be an exception to the rule.

So, if you're at all a fan of Stephen King, you can do worse than spend a couple of bucks and change for an early look at both a polished little short story (that will undoubtedly be a highlight of a future King anthology) and a late-career novel that just might be- judging by the subtle, intriguing, and nuanced excerpt seen here- right up there with "The Stand" in its creativity and memorability. Heck, I'll be more than satisfied if "11/22/63" is as least as good as the decent, perfectly satisfying "Under the Dome" of a couple of years past.

Anyway, "Mile 81" is fun, cheap, includes a meaty glimpse of a possibly great novel, and is only a click away on your Kindle. What's stopping you?
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on September 16, 2011
Seems I may be in the minority here but, as intriguing as the story began--and it is classic Stephen King story-telling (good stuff)--and as effortlessly as it pulled me it, at the end, I was left wanting. In fact, I had to page back and forth a couple of times just to make sure my device wasn't losing pages. I've become accustomed to Stephen King not giving me an explanation for what happened, and I am cool with that but seriously, this story just stopped. So, while I shall look forward to the new quasi-time travel book this fall and the new Dark Tower installment next year and whatever else the master of horror throws our way, I have to give this one a thumbs down.
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on September 7, 2011
I have been reading Stephen King since the 70's and I'm 54 years old. I am "Constant Reader." So, I take no pleasure in this review. This is one of the weakest things that "my favorite author" has ever written. I have stayed with Stevie because he is the absolute best at writing about "pop culture." I know he is very left wing but "Under the Dome" was still an excellent fun read. This was not bad political overtones or stereotyped characters. This was just not a story that allowed me to suspend belief and have fun. First, young children don't always act cool and "hip" when confronted by danger. A young 8 to 10 year old will rarely if ever think in terms of "f-word this or f-word that" as if he were a teenager getting ready for a party. Matter of fact most young children would not simply pick up a bottle of booze (vodka) and take a drink or two. The actual reaction would be "Yuk, I'm not putting my mouth on that." But, for some reason my favorite author in his mid sixties has lost the ability in this particular story to write actual dialog that might come close to a child's actual thoughts. Even, that can be forgiven. But, the "Thing" from where ever (don't want to spoil it) just doesn't make much sense. I'm afraid the whole darn thing just doesn't make much sense. I believe in Stephen King and I believe this was just a brain fart or a slip. I look forward to the Kennedy era novel this fall. I honestly appreciate Stephen King and have enjoyed his work over the years. But, on this one I will have to say. I wish I had taken a pass.
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on September 1, 2011
"Mile 81' is a new Kindle e-book from author Stephen King. This book is a 213 Kb download and is price at $2.99.

SPOILERS (general theme...no specific details given)

At an abandoned rest stop at the Mile 81 exit ramp on I-95 between Portland and Augusta, Maine, a new object of horror has just arrived. This is the story of six different people or groups who are unfortunate enough to be in the the wrong place at the wrong time on that fateful day.

END SPOILERS

A story that was maybe a little slow to start, but once begun, unravels a tale of spine tingling suspense and dread. I like King's writing style for these type of his shorter works...more substance and perfectly paced. It has none of the 'fill' that appears to take up a substantial amount of space in some of his longer works; 'fill' that I have often found brings that incredible chilling atmosphere and tension to a grinding halt.

Conclusion:
A brilliant, short horror story from Stephen King.
Readable in less than an hour but, to me, more satisfying that many of his longer works.
5 Stars

Ray Nicholson
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