Book Review: The Outsider, by Stephen King

220px-The_Outsider_by_Stephen_KingHey everybody! How’s it going? I thought I’d post another book review.

A while back, I read The Outsider, by Stephen King. We all know Stephen King. He writes very scary stories. Lots of people get killed in his books, as he generally dabbles in horror. Frightening, supernatural, horrifying things happen and it’s very scary. A lot of his books get translated into films. This never, ever works, except for a few exceptions. Last year’s film ‘It’ was pretty good, because clowns are scary and the kid from Stranger Things was in it, wearing glasses. Eleven! Also, two of his novels, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, were both brilliant films. It’s odd, because these were not horror stories. They were prison dramas. Uh… write what you… know?

Anyway, back to The Outsider. I have often thought that Stephen King is a better storyteller than he is a writer, as much as I have greatly enjoyed his work over the years. In my opinion, The Outsider is an example of this. I’m not saying he phoned this one in, but it just does not really rise to the level of horror and terror that he has easily mastered. Also, the scary stuff, in any story, is how the main characters react to the terrible events going on around them, and in The Outsider, everybody is just kind of standing around. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are compelling and well-written, but, by and large, the dialogue is a bit bland, and everyone seems okay, and a little too easily accepting, of the presence of a terrifying supernatural entity. Granted, I’ve never been in the presence of a terrifying, supernatural entity, so maybe some people are just okay with it. Me? I’d crap my pants.

Anyway, the first part of the book is mostly a police/crime tale, with a detective trying to solve an unusual murder, the gruesome killing of a child. Hey, Steve goes there. That’s what he does. The rest of the book consists of the characters, who are antagonized by a paint-by-the-numbers bent detective, eventually discovering that the real menace is a mysterious creature called The Outsider, a sort of bizarre shape-shifting thing from you-never-find-out, who sometimes has straws for eyes (?), can heal cancer, exudes some sort of oil, and can speak very eloquently and matter of factly.

It’s a good read, but not one of Mr. King’s masterpieces. Like I said, the main characters are remarkably insouciant, given the circumstances. And the eponymous antagonist is so under-explained, you are left wondering exactly what kind of evil King was trying to convey. I noticed some references to situations and events from other King novels; that was kind of neat. The Stephen King-o-verse!

Most of the action takes place in that hotbed of supernatural terror, the state of Oklahoma. Not sure when King got tired of Maine, but there you go.

So, it’s a good book, just not one of his stronger reads. I did not dislike it, by any means, it was just a tad flat.

Anyway, just my opinion. Feel free to tell me your thoughts, or if I’m wrong. Thanks, everybody!

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