Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Needful Things"

“Needful Things”
Book written by Stephen King
Review written by Diana Iozzia

Needful Things by Stephen KingBe prepared, because this review of “Needful Things” is going to be a very honest, very long, and kind of mean one. “Needful Things” by Stephen King had a lot of promise in my mind. I was really hoping to like this, because if I had to pick a favorite author, I’d pick Stephen. Can I call him Mister King? Can I call him Stephen?

The plot follows the small town of Castle Rock, the infamous Castle Rock that appears in a large percentage of his books (I can’t be bothered to look up the exact percentage). Castle Rock is famous for being a small, little strange town created by King. The characters are numerous, some have appeared in “Needful Things” when they have appeared elsewhere. For example, we are reintroduced to Alan Pangborn from “The Dark Half” and Ace Merrill from “Stand by Me”. With a book having at least 20 characters to remember, you can imagine that it might be hard to keep track of certain characters. Alan, Polly, Leland Gaunt, Brian Rust, Lettie, and a few others are most memorable, but it becomes difficult in Part Two of the book to remember many of them. Part 3 is absolutely atrocious for mentioning characters. The main ones were easy to remember, but I lost track of certain plot lines.

Mr. Leland Gaunt, a peculiar fellow, opens a shop called Needful Things. He begins selling items to townsfolk that could be an item they’ve always lusted over or an item that symbolizes their main desires. From baseball cards to fox tails to a framed picture of Elvis, they are not ordinary objects that you’d imagine people would be driven insane over. Mr. Gaunt accepts money, but he also creates an agreement with the customer to do him favors and “pranks”. These favors and pranks eventually pit the citizens of Castle Rock against each other, ensuing in crimes, violence, and different types of murder.

This was a fantastic premise, but the book could have done well with having 50 percent of its material cut. The copy I have has about 500 pages in very small print. This took me a month to struggle through. The first part was great. It set up an interesting plot, that became less interesting the less I read.

I think this book reminds me of “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”, an episode of the television show, “The Twilight Zone” where aliens pit neighbors against each other and cause havoc on one small street. Stephen King seems to “take inspiration” from many different stories, but this one felt eerily familiar.

I’m glad I read this book, because I had wanted to read it for some time. But I’m much gladder that I finished it. I could say I recommend it, but I can also say that you should steer very clear. Proceed with caution. I still can’t tell how I actually view this book, if in a positive light or negative light. I have heard that the short story “It Growns on You” in King’s book, “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” is a sort of epilogue to “Needful Things”, so perhaps I can find some closure there.

The aspects I liked:

Polly Chalmers and Alan Pangborn were great main characters.
The feud between Wilma Jerzyck and Nettie Cobb was a great storyline.
The climax and resolution.
“Answered Prayers”
Leland Gaunt’s Faustian personality.

The aspects I didn’t like:

Ace Merrill, terribly rotten in personality and plot line.
About 75 percent of the book. It was very descriptive to a fault.
Too many characters to keep track of.

The aspects I’m not sure on:

Danforth Keeton
The Rust Family

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"The Woman in Cabin 10"

The Woman in Cabin 10"The Woman In Cabin 10"
Written by Ruth Ware
Review written by Diana Iozzia

"The Woman in Cabin 10" was a good read, but in no way is this my newest favorite psychological thriller. This book starts out with a burglary for poor Lo Blacklock. As she's recovering, she's invited to cover and report upon a beautiful, glamorous cruise. This book unfolds like a game of "Clue" as if written by a writer inspired by Agatha Christie. Who was the woman pushed over the balcony into the water? Who pushed her?

There is a handful of guests upon this cruise, reporters, businessmen, and the hosts. Naturally, everyone becomes a suspect. However, all too quickly, the book becomes predictable and it is quite obvious how the book will unfold. I guessed the plot solution, before I had even finished the first half. I'm not sure if that is how Ruth Ware would like it to be, but I am not one to enjoy a book with a surprise twist that twists only half way into the book. The last half was the solution to the problem and the twist, but it was a poor solution. It felt very similar to an episode of Law and Order, where you know who the villain(s) are, and then you can predict how the villains will be stopped. It felt very procedural, and I was not as pleased as I was when I read Ware's first novel, "In a Dark, Dark Wood".

As I mentioned, this plays out like an Agatha Christie rip, and it wasn't too pleasing. I like the setting of a cruise, but hardly any of the glamor is there. Practically the entire time, Lo is drunk or hungover or tired or nervous or uncomfortable. Or she's flirting with her ex, and then fighting with her ex. This feels very soap opera like to me.

In conclusion, I liked the book, but I equally disliked it.

* I purchased my own copy of this book. *