Lisey's Story: A Novel
by Stephen King
I usually really enjoy Stephen King's books. I love his concepts (usually) and I can usually stick it out through the novels and enjoy myself, even when they might get a tad too long for my liking. This book, however, was one I did NOT like very much. I can't really find anything good to say about it apart from the fact that it was an okay concept.
The situation was strange; an author's widow dealing with the emotional and realistic aspects of her writer-husband's death. How did King write this? It's kind of morbid for a writer to invent a writer, kill him off, and spend the whole book imaging how the loved ones would cope.
It took a lot of effort to get through this book because I just couldn't get myself into the story. I was watching (listening) to the story, but I didn't feel a part of it. I didn't feel emotionally invested. In fact, the only real emotions I felt were 1-annoyance and 2-curiosity regarding how it would end. But the end wasn't the least bit satisfying to me and seemed to end as abruptly as the chapters which stop mid-sentence and threw me the first time they did that (requiring me to re-listen to a whole chapter until I realized it was just King trying to be clever and engaging and annoying me).
There was a lot to be annoyed about. There are little secrets throughout the book, that slowly get revealed. Instead of being mysterious, I just found it annoying that the important things weren't right up front for me. It wasn't until I was something like halfway through the book that I even realized there were paranormal elements in this story. If there was something at the beginning about this, I don't remember it/didn't pick up on it. So it felt as if the whole story was suddenly shifting under my feet; I was unsteady the whole way through, and that prevented me from grabbing hold and really caring. The shared vocabulary between Lisey and Scott was also really annoying. A few cute little inside joke words here and there would have been fine, but there were so very many and most of them sounded stupid to me. Also, the biggest, most important made-up word "Bool" had multiple meanings/connotations; this wasn't confusing, just annoying. I found phrases like "strap it on" and "Baby love" and "bad gunky" popping into my normal speech while I was earreading this and then I'd kinda feel icky for saying them. Smuck that! I hope that, after writing this review, those phrases leave my consciousness completely. It wasn't the least bit interesting or endearing hearing the characters use them (they put me at a distance instead of drawing me in) and I don't want to use them now. I dunno... maybe it was because some of the phrasing felt so... what's the right way to say it? Small town/back roads hick-like? I don't know. I love fake, made-up words, but none of them appealed to me. And THEN there was a whole separate shared vocabulary that Lisey had with her family/sisters, so it all started to feel a bit... well, not silly... but forced. Yes, forced. Like he was trying too hard to create something with SUCH a different feel to it. Problem is, I liked the old styles & feels!
And then you have Lisey, who was just plain annoying at times as a character. I found it very difficult to like her or root for her. I didn't want her to die, but I kind of didn't care what happened to her. I liked her husband, Scott, quite a lot; however, he is dead for the current story (apart from the many flashbacks). Sometimes I liked Lisey's sister... and other times she got on my nerves (but I think that largely has to do with the voice the reader chose to use for "Manda Bunny".
I actually liked some of the paranormal-type elements and if they had been done differently, in different ways, with different situations, I'm sure I would have LOVED this book. The whole backstory with Scott and his brother & father really captured me. I liked the idea of the pool/healing and the Blood Bool cutting and the whatever that bad gunky thing that took over Paul was. I seriously loved what whole part.
But the rest... the flashback with the "Southern-fried chicken shit" and silver spade, the king of the incuncs & McCool (who was just horrible; not scary so much as crazy), the whole main plot itself... I could have done without all of that quite happily. And I could have done with it being told differently as well. The story had so many abrupt jumps and changes and never spelled anything out completely, which, again, was annoying. I just had a feeling of dislike the whole time for the content and the style and the execution. Which is such a pity because I always respect when authors try something new. This totally didn't work for me.