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Dreamcatcher Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 2001

3.5 out of 5 stars 839 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stephen King fans, rejoice! The bodysnatching-aliens tale Dreamcatcher is his first book in years that slakes our hunger for horror the way he used to. A throwback to It, The Stand, and The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher is also an interesting new wrinkle in his fiction.

Four boyhood pals in Derry, Maine, get together for a pilgrimage to their favorite deep-woods cabin, Hole in the Wall. The four have been telepathically linked since childhood, thanks to a searing experience involving a Down syndrome neighbor--a human dreamcatcher. They've all got midlife crises: clownish Beav has love problems; the intellectual shrink, Henry, is slowly succumbing to the siren song of suicide; Pete is losing a war with beer; Jonesy has had weird premonitions ever since he got hit by a car.

Then comes worse trouble: an old man named McCarthy (a nod to the star of the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers) turns up at Hole in the Wall. His body is erupting with space aliens resembling furry moray eels: their mouths open to reveal nests of hatpin-like teeth. Poor Pete tries to remove one that just bit his ankle: "Blood flew in splattery fans as Pete tried to shake it off, stippling the snow and the sawdusty tarp and the dead woman's parka. Droplets flew into the fire and hissed like fat in a hot skillet."

For all its nicely described mayhem, Dreamcatcher is mostly a psychological drama. Typically, body snatchers turn humans into zombies, but these aliens must share their host's mind, fighting for control. Jonesy is especially vulnerable to invasion, thanks to his hospital bed near-death transformation, but he's also great at messing with the alien's head. While his invading alien, Mr. Gray, is distracted by puppeteering Jonesy's body as he's driving an Arctic Cat through a Maine snowstorm, Jonesy constructs a mental warehouse along the lines of The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. Jonesy physically feels as if he's inside a warehouse, locked behind a door with the alien rattling the doorknob and trying to trick him into letting him in. It's creepy from the alien's view, too. As he infiltrates Jonesy, experiencing sugar buzz, endorphins, and emotions for the first time, Jonesy's influence is seeping into the alien: "A terrible thought occurred to Mr. Gray: what if it was his concepts that had no meaning?"

King renders the mental fight marvelously, and telepathy is a handy way to make cutting back and forth between the campers' various alien battlefronts crisp and cinematic. The physical naturalism of the Maine setting is matched by the psychological realism of the interior struggle. Deftly, King incorporates the real-life mental horrors of his own near-fatal accident and dramatizes the way drugs tug at your consciousness. Like the Tommyknockers, the aliens are partly symbols of King's (vanquished) cocaine and alcohol addiction. Mainly, though, they're just plain scary. Dreamcatcher is a comeback and an infusion of rich new blood into King's body of work. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In an author's note to this novel, the first he's written since his near-fatal accident, King allows that he wrote the first draft of the book by hand. So much for the theory that it's word-processing alone that leads to logorrhea. Yet despite its excessive length, the novel one of the most complex thematically and structurally in King's vast output dazzles and grips, if fitfully. In its suspenseful depiction of an alien invasion, it superficially harkens back to King's early work (e.g., the 1980 novella "The Mist"), but it also features the psychological penetration, word-magic and ripe imagination of his recent stuff (particularly Bag of Bones). The action shuttles between present and past, following primarily the tribulations of a band of five males four regular guys from Derry, Maine (setting of King's It and Insomnia), and their special friend, Duddits, a Down's child (then man) with telepathic abilities. The first chunk of the text offers a tour de force of terror bound in darkest humor, depicting the arrival at the four guys' remote hunting cabin of a man who's fatally ill because he harbors in his bowels an alien invader. Yet the ferocious needle-toothed "shit-weasel" that escapes from him is only one of three varieties of invader the protagonists, and eventually a black-ops containment force, face: the others are Grays, classic humanoid aliens, and byrus, a parasitical growth that threatens to overtake life on Earth. The presence of the aliens makes humans telepathic, which leads to various inspired plot complications, but also to an occasional, perhaps necessary, vagueness of narration is there anything more difficult to dramatize than mind-to-mind communication? Numerous flashbacks reveal the roots of the connections among the four guys (one of whom is hit by a car and nearly dies), Duddits and even the aliens, while the last part of the book details a race/chase to save the world a chase that goes on and on and that's further marred by the cartoonlike presence of the head of the black ops force, who's as close to a caricature as King has strayed in several novels. The book has flaws, then, and each of them cries "runaway author." Is anyone editing King these days? But, then, who edited, say, Mahler at his most excessive? The genius shines through in any case, in the images and conceits that blind with brilliance, in the magnificent architecture, in the wide swaths of flat-out riveting reading and, most of all, in the wellsprings of emotions King taps as he plumbs the ties that bind his characters and, by extension, all of us to one another. (One-day laydown, Mar. 20) Forecast: As King's first book-length fiction since the accident, this novel originally titled Cancer will generate particular interest commercially and critically. It may be nominated for awards; it certainly will top the charts. Film rights optioned by Castle Rock.
Copyright 2001 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: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074343627X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743436274
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (839 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Because "Dreamcatcher" is the novel Stephen King wrote (in longhand) while recuperating from his near-fatal accident, it easily lends itself to all sorts of psychological interpretations. After all, one of the characters is hit by a car and breaks a hip. To me, the first part of the book comes across as a melting pot of familiar elements from King books: once upon a time there was a group of four boys who were best friends ("The Body"), who become involved in stopping a great evil as adults ("It"), because of a spaceship that has landed in the woods ("The Tommyknockers") and a horrible infection is spreading around ("The Stand"). Fortunately they have some psychic ability ("The Dead Zone") that will help them not only with the aliens but also with the psycho running the government operation ("Firestarter"). For good measure, throw in literary homages to the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Alien" with a generous twist of "The X-Files," while keeping in mind that not everybody gets out alive in a Stephen King novel, and you have the general picture of what "Dreamcatcher" is about.
The four friends--Joe "Beaver" Clarendon, Pete Moore, Henry Devlin and Gary Jones--are bound together in a way that they do not even suspect. Beaver is an inventive curser who owns a cabin in the Maine woods where the group gathers for the last time, Pete can find lost car keys or anything else when he puts his mind to it, Henry is a suicidal shrink who has a tendency to lash out at patients from time to time, and Jonsey is a college professor who just "knows" when students cheat on exams.
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Format: Hardcover
Like quite a few other Stephen King books, (e.g. "Christine", "Needful Things", "The Tommyknockers", "Desperation" and even "Misery"), the story starts off with life going on as normal. We go from there to an uneasy feeling that not everything's as it should be. Then things start to get slightly skewed with the protagonists feeling just a little nervous. They don't know exactly what's wrong, but something's not right. Finally, all hell breaks loose and you are left with no doubt that you have just passed into Stephen King's realm, and through all the unreality, you still get the faint glimmer that this impossible situation just could be possible. We're faced with aliens in the woods, a possible threat to humanity and average guys who, on the surface, aren't really equipped for the fight.
You will probably want to read this book if: - You're a Stephen King fan who really enjoyed The Tommyknockers. - You want to read a new explanation for all of those supposed UFO sightings over the years. -You enjoy epic, save-the-world stories that, let's face it, could never happen - could they?
You probably won't want to read this book if: - You didn't enjoy The Tommyknockers. - You like the action at a sustained fast-pace. The book does tend to lose momentum mid-way through. - You have a thing about profanity.
Although the story is rather formulaic, this formula is the reason I read Stephen King books.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm glad to have "Dreamcatcher" on my bookshelf. If for no other reason than because I was almost sure, two years ago, that there wouldn't ever be such a thing as a new Stephen King novel. I remember seeing Stephen King and his wife Tabitha interviewed on tv the fall after his near-fatal accident, and his spirits were so low, it really didn't look like he would ever be writing again. The gloomy feel of that interview, coupled with the Bartelby-"I prefer not to" theme running through the end of "Bag of Bones" made me worry that that might be his last full length novel.
Which made me sad, because I've been one of King's Constant Readers since my twelfth birthday, when I finished "Pet Sematary". I've been with him through the good years and the bad. The occasional rambling blahs and the cherished moments of pure transcendent bliss, like at the end of "Low Men in Yellow Coats" from "Heart in Atlantis," where I simultaneously cried my eyes out and felt a surging thankfulness for being alive and being in the world, and having that book in my hands at that moment. A perfect moment.
For that moment, and many moments like it over the years, I consider Stephen King a good friend. I didn't like the idea of not hearing the voice of my friend ever again.
Especially when his last book, the collection "Hearts in Atlantis," contained some of the best writing he'd ever done. It left me starving for more great Stephen King. Any Stephen King, really.
So I'm extremely happy to still be hearing his voice, to be reading his words. It makes the world a better place to be in.
But I'll have to say that "Dreamcatcher" isn't nearly as good as the brilliant "Hearts in Atlantis.
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Format: Hardcover
For my money, Hearts in Atlantis is King's best work, narrowing out Pet Semetary, the Dark Tower series and the first half of It by a little bit. Dreamcatcher isn't quite as good as those, but it's still a good read (above all else, King is one of the best storytellers alive).
Things I liked: * The kids in his story are utterly believeable - he certainly hasn't lost touch with his childhood.
* As always, his references to other stories are clever in-jokes (and having this story set partially in Derry, I'd have been disappointed if there weren't any at all)
* The interior battle between Mr. Gray and Jonesy was VERY well written - another thing King can capture quite believably is the not-quite-reality of dreams.
* (very minor spoiler alert) The evolution of Mr. Gray from an alien 'intelligence' into something with human emotions/desires (bacon!) was nicely and subtly done.
* One thing I have always liked about King's work (and my wife doesn't) are his little sidepaths he takes his story down. The little ancedotes that let us get into his characters heads are essential, I think, to character development (my wife thinks they distract from the plot).
* Duddits was a fantastic character - even though he's essentially the same guy as the Wolf in Talisman, and Tom "M-O-O-N spells moon" Cullen from the Stand, it's a character I really like. Sort of like an old friend popping up unexpectedly :-).
Things I didnt like (and they're minor): * It reminded me a little of Tommyknockers, which I didn't enjoy at all. That has nothing to do with this book, actually, but I still don't forgive him for that one.
* Same thing with the last 200 pages of It, which was an absolutely fantastic story until he dragged in all that Spider and Turtle crap.
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