Book Review: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (2001)

I can count the number of Stephen King books I’ve read on both hands, and it makes it much easier that I’m not a Stephen King surviving protagonist, because they never finish with 10 digits. I’ve read The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, the first three books of the Dark Tower, On Writing, The Dark Half, and this book. I really like his style and his attitude, and I liked this book too.

The plot: four friends on a hunting trip encounter an alien invasion or biowarfare during a blizzard. Cripes, it would be a simple enough pitch for a movie, but undoubtedly the two hour feature couldn’t begin to delve into this book.

I’m going to speak about a few things in my few paragraphs, the first of which is his style. As I mentioned previously, a horror novel is simply a fantasy novel wherein the heroes don’t know they’re in a fantasy novel until it’s too late. That gives King the opportunity to play with the timeline, using foreshadowing and flashback to great effect. The simple, throwaway foreshadowing in the beginning of the book really draws the reader in, but King knows when the hook has been set and lays off after the first third of the book. Swell. Also, King lavishes a lot of detail on most of the characters in the book that are more than names. It really bugs the reader when the good guys die, or when they lose fingers.

Secondly, King’s well read and slathers his books in allusions to popular and literate works. He alludes to Poe unself-consciously and mentions a boook by Robert Parker by name. Cool.

Also, I found this book an interesting artifact. Although King, in his author’s note, talks about writing this book in November 1999 through March 2000, Bush is the president (and it’s apparent that he’s not well thought of by many characters). The president has to give a speech about an incident in which aliens bearing infectious and dangerous, world-conquering philosophies spores. The book is published in 2001. That’s a little….creepy.

Of all contemporary mythmakers, if I had to guess whom students from the year 2200 would read from our era (assuming their studies of literature aren’t limited to the Koran or Mao), I’d pick King. He’s an engaging writer, he’s smart, he’s good at his craft, and he explores deeper human truths by transcending his genre.

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