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Four Past Midnight (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – September 3, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
- John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I was honestly amazed. King may be hailed as the Master of the Macabre, but this man is first and foremost a *good writer*--all four of his novellas in this volume drew me in and gave me no choice but to keep turning pages to find out what happened next. It was a pleasant surprise to find so much wit and humor buried amidst the horror, and I can't help but be in awe of a man who can make you laugh out loud in a library one moment and make you hold the book out at arm's length with a mutter of, "Ew," the next.
Like so many others, I would call "Langoliers" my favorite--clever, engaging, and well-paced, it has a delightful coterie of characters and a Twilight Zone-esque plotline. Next would be a toss-up between "Secret Window, Secret Garden" and "Library Policeman." I'm not certain why so many people dislike SWSG; Mort Rainey was perhaps the most strongly drawn character of the lot. And while LP is certainly excellent, it had too much gore for sheer gore's sake to win an unchallenged second favorite slot. (Some say that LP is nothing but perversion. I would disagree. Its scenario is revolting, yes; disconcerting, yes... and entirely too plausible in real life.)
"Sun Dog" is probably the story that cost the book a star in my rating, for while chilling in its way and well-written by all accounts, it seemed the most shallow and downright absurd in retrospect. (Yes, I take the licorice from "Library Policeman" into account when I say that. At least the licorice had symbolism going for it.)
At any rate, I'd suggest that any fan of psychological horror give this book a go. I haven't been converted into a solid Stephen King fan myself, but I have a new respect for him and his talents after reading _Four Past Midnight_.
The Langoliers - This was definitely my favorite story out of them all. It was interesting and different from the other things that I've read. Sometimes the characters got a little boring though. I think the ending seemed a bit rushed so it was a let down from the rest of the story. You should read this if you're on the plane or if you're planning to fly soon... it'd make you think again.
Secret Window, Secret Garden - At first I found this story quite boring and simple, but then it turned out to be much more. My favorite part of this story was the ending because it was just completely unexpected. It was a nice twist.
The Library Policeman - I think that this story just progressed too slowly. Many parts seemed to drag on forever.
The Sun Dog - Like "The Library Policeman", this story progressed too slowly. Some parts of it were interesting, but there were a lot of parts that I just wanted to skip! The ending was a disappointment as well
What I like about all the stories is the detail that Stephen King often includes. While reading certain parts, you can see the whole scene happening in front of you in slow motion because of the detail.
Nonetheless, about two or so years after reading Desperation, I was searching around for a book to read and came upon this by Stephen King, so I asked myself why not? I was pleasantly surprised by how well written and exciting the stories contained with this book are.
Let me break it down story by story.
1) The Langoliers - A fine story by any measure. I started reading this sometime in the afternoon and I simply couldn't put it down until I finished late in the evening
Not only is the premise of the story incredibly interesting, but the execution was well appreciated. The pace of the story and the character development (save for a few characters) left little to feel disappointed about, but the plot was especially deserving of praise.
Normally, it is advise that one saves the best for last but the Langoliers is hardly a small feat of story telling. Great story no matter how you look at it!
2) Secret Window, Secret Garden (SWSG) - Also a finely written story. Has a finely woven plot and I consider a great second read about finishing the Langoliers.
But as they say, even the best stories has its fair share of flaws. SGSW's most obvious flaws, at least for this reader, lies in the pacing of the given clues and the ending.
By the pacing of the clues, what I mean is how King spread out the clues to the final answer. SWSG contains an a very enjoyable mystery to solve and like any good mystery stories, the clues were given out accordingly. However, one of the most important clues in the entire story was not given (only slightly hinted at) until extremely late in the story. I felt this was a poor judgment
The other flaw was the ending. The ending, as some may say, was extremely obvious. I had correctly guessed it ¼ of the way through the story (lets just say it hit me as the answer). Nonetheless, King obviously didn't want readers to guess the answer too easily so he left a twist.
The twist, I felt, was another poor judgment. The twist, while not at all unpleasant, had a compromising effect on the rest of the story, I felt. The plot would have been a lot stronger and much more effective without it.
3) The Sun Dog - Let me tell you, the first time I read this story, I was terrified. It was an incredibly scary story.
Unfortunately, the same may not be said for everyone. The reason why it scared me so much was probably because it hit so close to home. I also recently purchased a camera and it is roughly the modern equivalent of what Kevin had. It almost even cost the same.
Despite this, however, I found that the story became increasingly silly near the end. Too illogical, so to say. Perhaps this was the story's greatest fault and, unfortunately, it made the story so much less appreciable than the previous two.
It may just be my opinion, but the ending words of the story was more comical than horror.
4) The Library Policeman - Sad to say, but I did not like this story at all.
To start off, I had thought the premise was interesting enough. Turning a library into a place of fear? Why not?
However, as I had suspected he would, King failed in succeeding in that task. It's not that making that library appear scary is difficult as I've seen some extraordinary storytellers done much more amazing things, but I suspected King would failed from his introduction.
From his intro, I had suspected King would attempt to make readers fear the librarian. As a person who have read many stories from many other authors who attempted to do the same, I can tell you that, for some reason or another, most can't seem to succeed in this task. Perhaps it's just me personally as I've been a fan of libraries and librarians for a long time, so perhaps I find it exceedingly difficult to imagine them in a frightening light, but nonetheless, I did not find it scary at all.
This one aspect ruined much of the story for me. Aside from that, however, I also find the protagonists very difficult to connect to. In the other stories, I was able to connect with many of the characters on some level if not a deep level, but in this story, I was not able to connect with anyone at all. Somehow, I see characters like Naomi and Sam to be more caricatures than actual humans. At so many points in this story, it became difficult for me to imagine them as real people and I was unable to immerse myself in the story like I did with the previous ones.
Finally, the last big complaint I have about the story is that I believe King placed too much trust in the shock value of one aspect of the story. Unfortunately, moreso for me, the subject matter is one in which I find little shock value in. King was obviously hoping this one aspect would make the readers uncomfortable and perhaps raise the terror value a notch or so, but I merely raised an eyebrow. I was surprise at the audacity alright, but shocked? Not so much.
It's a shame about this story as I had high hopes for it after reading the previous ones.
Anyway, concluding my review, I recommend this book to any readers looking for some stories to pass the time. I may not have liked one of the stories but the others were simply delightful!