Sunday, July 4, 2010

'Misery'- Review

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 0-450-41739-5

369 Pages

Opening Line:
'umber whunnnn
yernnn umber whunnnn
These sounds: even in the haze.'


So far I haven't reviewed any books from the horror genre, so I thought it was about time that I did.

I read a lot of Stephen King novels when I was a teenage and I still think that 'Misery' is one of my favourites.

When Paul Sheldon, a semi-famous fiction novelist, heads out to celebrate the completion of his latest novel, he could never imagine that his life would take a turn for the worst. After too much champagne and thick snow covering the mountains, Paul crashes his Camaro and is left in the woods, unconscious.

The next thing he knows, a strange woman is giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation and she then takes him to recuperate in her isolated farm. The woman's name is Annie Wilkes, an ex-nurse with a passion for Paul's novels and deadly mood swings.

Annie holds Paul as her prisoner, by pumping him full of drugs and the only way he can survive, is to resurrect Misery Chastain, the character from his popular trashy novels, for a very special one off copy of 'Misery's Return.'

The plot in this novel is gripping. At no point throughout did I feel that it wained or raced towards an unsatisfactory end. The characters were believable, even Annie Wilkes was believable and extremely intense. I could feel Paul's fear and anticipation, as you didn't know what Annie would do next.

I liked King's use of multiple styles of writing throughout the novel. He used stream of consciousness, third person and even first person in such a seamless way, that instead of being confusing, for me, it was intriguing and exciting to read.

I also liked the way in which King played with the idea of what is 'good' and what is 'evil'. At one point in the novel, the situation which is perceived as 'evil' i.e Paul being incarcerated in the cabin with the psychotic woman, is actually seen as a bit of a saviour for Paul, taking him away from the evils of the outside worlds i.e of drink, woman and lack of work ethic. Whilst in the cabin, Paul's sees some sort of clarity in a more sober life and he finds that he can create some of his best work, even in such highly stressful situations

For me, the element that made the book most impressive, was that 'Misery' works on many levels. Firstly, you have the level that takes a reader on a journey with a few scares thrown in for good measure. In fact, some of the scenes within the book are shocking. I didn't feel at any point, that the book was predictable or silly, which in a lot of cases, horror books can become like that.

However, being a writer myself, what was interesting, was that throughout the novel, Stephen King gives the reader a glimpse into how a writer creates a story.

He doesn't deny that what he is writing is something that is crafted from the imagination and lets the reader into the writing process. From the conception of ideas, to the way in which writers don't just simply write words on a page, but they actually mentally step into the character's world and simply write what is being presented before them. This element, I myself, can definitely relate to. I particularly like the way in which Paul explains his game of 'Can You?' which involves imagining how you are going to get certain characters out of seemingly impossible situations and most of the time, I feel like I do that too.

'Misery' is exhilarating, scary and intriguing. It had me hooked from beginning to end. I would definitely recommend this novel, if you like some good old fashioned horror, or are a writer interested in observing great writing technique.

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