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The Tommyknockers Mass Market Paperback – October 31, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

King's new novel, a numbing variation on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, offers its own best commentary on itself. Nearly one-third of the way through the 560-page book, protagonist Bobbi Anderson, a writer of westerns, describes what she has stumbled upon in her backyard to her friend Gardener, an alcoholic poet: "It was a flying saucer. No self-respecting science-fiction writer would put one in his story, and if he did, no self-respecting editor would touch it with a ten-foot pole.. . . It is the oldest wheeze in the book." After the vampirish Tommyknockers in the spaceship have wrought their evil magic upon the inhabitants of Haven (Tommyknockers live on the blood of comatose humans circulated through mind-reading PCs connected to VCRs), the unfortunate townspeople have, it seems, "become" (the word, over-used and never explained, is King's) "something else" (the vague words are also the author's). The "gadgets" of the town "become" living beings that kill (there are marauding hedge cutters and Coke machines, Electrolux vacuums, Yamaha motorcycles and flying smoke detectors ) and The Tommyknockers is consumed by the rambling prose of its author. Taking a whole town as his canvas, King uses too-broad strokes, adding cartoonlike characters and unlikely catastrophes like so many logs on a fire; ultimately he loses all semblance of style, carefully structured plot or resonant meaning, the hallmarks of his best writing. It is clear from this latest work that King himself has "become" a writing machinethis is his fourth novel since It was published 14 months ago; the faithful readers not overwhelmed by his latest fictional "gadget" are likely to wonder, as poet Gardener does near the novel's end: "What had it all been for? He realized miserably that he was never going to know."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Yet another mammoth horror novel from King, this dark tale depicts a small town's fatal encounter with creatures from outer space. Events start with Roberta Anderson, a writer of Old West novels, unearthing a flying saucer on her remote wooded property. Five hundred pages later alcoholic poet Jim Gardener, Roberts's former English teacher, finds himself aboard the flying saucer in outer space. In the interval the creatures (Tommyknockers) destroy the citizenry of Haven, Maine. While this is not one of King's more original novels, it does have plenty of blood and guts, macabre humor, and a well-wrought realization of the New England countryside. No doubt King's legions of fans will demand it. BOMC main selection. James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (October 31, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451156609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451156600
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Lavinia Whately on January 29, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am about the same age as Stephen King and have read his works throughout my adult life. I think most readers are too young to appreciate this book.

Stephen King's early works, assembelled in chronological order, are all symbolic stories of stages in his own life. "Carrie" is about high school, "Salem's Lot" about love and loss in early adulthood, "The Shining" about the anxieties of fatherhood. "It" is about the reworking of childhood issues in mid-life. All great fiction talks to us on a subconcious level.

"Tommy Knockers" is about aging and death. Time possesses and mutates all of us, makes our teeth and hair fall out, truncates our dreams, makes us unrecognizable from our youthful selves. This is a sad book, and unlike King's earlier works the protagonists have no power to fight such an enemy. Affirming the value of love, however futile, in the face of death is the point of the book.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Edward Aycock on December 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Okay, to be honest, the book gets gripping after one slogs through the first 200 pages. Before that, we spend a looong time getting to know Bobbi Anderson and Jim Gardener. But once the book expands its narrative to include the members of the entire town of Haven, the book does not let up.
The first two hundred pages, and a bit too much techno jargon prevent me from fully bestowing this book with a full 5 stars. King has clearly done his homework on this book, but after a while, all the descriptions of the souped up gadgets made my eyes swim (much as Tolkien's endless landscape descriptions in "Lord of the Rings" made me wish good old John Ronald Reuel had pioneered the minimalist writing style.)
The Tommyknockers, while not my favorite King novel, is a great effort. people may complain about an anti-climactic ending (They must have read the ending to a different book, the climax I read was rather exciting)or the fact that the characters seem to stumble down a path of destruction. Well, that happens in life as well. I think King's writing is at the top of its form... I think the scene when Jim Gardener drunkenly ruins an all too polite cocktail party with a rant against the destructive powers of nuclear energy is one of the most powerful scenes in all of King's canon, and one of the most chilling without benefit of any super- or preter- natural interference. Despite all of the evil the characters in his novels have faced (indeed, Pennywise the clown makes a brief appearance in a city sewer, which is odd as this tale is to have taken place 3 years after the events in IT... one thinks King's editors add the dates of the events of his novels to coincide with the publication dates and not to correspond with when the novels were actually written.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By George Denison on August 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a big King fan, and have read many of his books. They are usually great but this is poor. Bobby Anderson, a quiet women living on a farm in the peaceful town of Haven, stumbles over an object in the woods. Curious, she begins to dig it up, and it begins to change a town of good-natured people into slave-like zombies. Stupidly overlong and sleep-inducingly dull at points, this ridiculous tale about (among other things) aliens, flying tractors, guns that warp people to other planets and battery powered water heaters is daft as hell. King normally gets around this problem by developing great characters, but the book skitters between them far too much to allow you to start caring about them. There are some compelling points (such as the first stages of the chaos that erupts in the town, and Gards first look at the inside of the shed) but they are quickly forgotten thanks to a silly, over-the-top sci-fi sequence or a dull sub-plot. Kings attempt at doing a dated 60's B-movie has not worked, and the result is a tedious read that pushes you through the pages more often than it sucks you in.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Pecanic on December 19, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King was a bit of a disappointment for me. I hadn't heard excellent things about it, but I wanted to read it for myself. Over the past couple of years, I've been plugging the holes in my Stephen King library and have been pleasantly surprised by such great books as `Salem's Lot and Christine, but The Tommyknockers . . .

Here's what it had going for it: 1. It was written in the same era as what I consider some of King's best stories: It, The Eyes of the Dragon, and Misery. 2. I've heard tommyknockers mentioned in a few different places, and I looked up the legends about them. They seemed like pretty scary creatures, and I thought King would come up with something great here.

Well, the book didn't live up to any of my expectations. Does the blame lie with me, though? I don't think so.

It's hard to put my finger on "what" made the book lackluster. Part of the reason was the book's structure. King starts the book focusing on two different characters, then he abandons them for much of the middle of the book. By the time we rejoin Gard and Bobbi, I no longer feel for them. And most of the characters in the middle weren't very memorable for me. King's strength is usually in his characters, but that was lacking this time.

Another thing that was "off" was the theme of the book. I felt like King was just scratching the surface as to what this book was about. He touches on ideas of group-think and addiction and obsession, but he doesn't quite hit the ball out of the park--just a few singles here and there.

So, no, it's not a terrible book. And I did find it interesting to see the seeds for his later novel Under the Dome planted all around this book. For the King completist, you can read it, and it'll be OK.
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