Title: Bag of Bones
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 660
Well, I finally found a Stephen King book that I didn’t enjoy. Goodness me, it was just incredibly dull and difficult to engage with. I didn’t care about the characters, the antagonist wasn’t even a villain, and while there were supernatural elements, they were super minor for 550 pages and then suddenly went nuts at the end. It just didn’t work for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I like what King set out to do here. I guess this was written during his “literary horror” period, after he got sober and before he found his feet again. Some people (Todd the Librarian, for example) say that after King sobered up, he was never the same. I disagree because he has some great recent novels like 11/22/63, but I do think that his hit to miss ratio took a big hit when he cleaned up.
But I don’t have a problem with that, and I’ve already decided that I’m going to work my way through everything that King has ever written. I’d also rather that he lived longer instead of burning himself out, because occasional bad books are offset by the fact that he’s also written plenty of other good ones.
This one felt a lot like filler, and I think he could have told the story a lot better if he’d dropped it to half the length. There were also a few good ideas in there, and it’s not exactly badly written, it was just super boring. I rated it a 2/5 based on my enjoyment of it, but objectively I guess I’d say it’s around a 3/5. I also know a few different people who love this book, and so I guess as always it’s a case of different strokes for different folks.
It also doesn’t help that I’ve read enough King books by now that I’m bored of reading about characters who are writers. He’s done it to death, and I wasn’t a particular fan of it even to begin with. They say you should write what you know, but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken that literally. Plus it’s not like he knows about all of the creepy stuff that he writes about, and if he can come up with that then surely he can come up with someone who isn’t a writer.
I also wasn’t a fan of the back story here. It’s one of those where we keep having little flashbacks to the past until eventually the past and the present come together. I’ll agree that when it works well, it really works, but I also think that it’s pretty rare for authors to nail it, and I don’t think King did it here. It got to the point where things were being revealed towards the end and I just didn’t care because it had taken far too long to get to that point and I wasn’t that interested to begin with.
Overall then, I’m not about to recommend this unless you’re a completionist and you want to read all of Stephen King’s stuff, and even then I think you should go in with low expectations. I only got a couple of hundred pages in before I realised that I didn’t want to keep it as my main book. Instead, I switched it out as the book that I read before bed, and it’s true that it helped me to fall asleep. Apart from the times when it made me rage so much that I had to wake my girlfriend up to rant about it.
I think the main problem is just my own expectations of Stephen King’s stuff. I’m a fan of his and love reading his stuff, but then I get to a book like this and it’s just a disappointment. Avoid it unless you’re determined to read it.