Taking a break from reading archive books from Stephen King’s back catalogue, as part of my plan to read everything he has published in order, I decided to read his latest release as it was only a short book at a little over 100 pages and I was waiting to get hold of the next book in the list (The Stand).
There has been quite a lot of backlash online about this book because it is very short compared to what we are used to from the author, but at the same time, being sold for a similar price (I think I paid £8 for it the week it came out).
For me personally, I did not mind this at all, but could understand some people’s frustrations, especially those who pre-ordered the book before the full details were released, thinking it was going to be a full length book.
The synopsis for the book is as follows:-
Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.
In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face – including his own — he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
The thing which Stephen King does so well throughout his storytelling, is his ability to create characters which you can instantly feel something for and genuinely feel in some way that you are part of their lives, this book is no different, even considering its length and from the first page I was engrossed and ended up reading the book in one sitting.
It was great to be back in a well known town as well, Castle Rock (especially as I have also recently finished watching the TV Series with the same name) and there was even a stand out reference to a very well known character from Castle Rock’s neighbouring town – Derry.
It’s well known that Stephen King has already covered this weightloss based story in the past, with Thinner, but this book is totally different and does not feel like revising well-trodden ground.
The only downside I personally can think of in relation to this story is that it’s never explained what exactly was causing the weightloss, but I guess the reasons for it being a bit vague are discussed by Scott (the main protagonist) during the book.
I honestly had no idea how Stephen King was going to bring the book to a close and genuinely felt a tinge of sadness with what happened, especially as it came soon after a rather humorous description of Scott trying to get to and from the mail box.
The book itself is not what you could class a “classic-King”, in that it’s not full of hell-hounds, killer clowns, aliens from a different galaxy, no this book revolves around how people interact with one another and how their social prejudices can affect not just their lives, but often the town as a whole.
King is a well known hater of the Trump era and has been very vocal about it on his Twitter feed and although Trump is mentioned several times, the book does not dwell on this more than is necessary.
The book does well to show just how nice a small town can be if people get over their own hangups or insecurities of others and how people’s lives can be dramatically changed by such a small action.
I would recommend this book as a nice little ‘escape from reality’ book which most people will probably get read within an hour or so, if you go into it in full knowledge that this is a very short story.