Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review of Duma Key by Stephen King (read 2/08)

Book review time! (Yay!) Why a book review? Because reading Duma Key by Stephen King back in Feb, '08, played a significant role in my personal story. Because this book is good even though written by a best-selling secular author. Because I wanted to add a new post but had nothing profound to say, myself.

Who cares why? Read the review or's your decision. So, without further ado, my 5 star review of Duma Key by Stephen King:

Every single page is like a lover touching my cheek...sometimes it's a caress, and sometimes it's a slap...but every page, every word, has a profound impact upon me. I'm in the middle of the book, and I'm terrified to finish it, but I can't stop turning the pages...

...Just finished it. I heard one reviewer state that it was the best book King had ever written. While reviewers have short memories and liberal use of hyperbole, I must admit that this was one of his best he's written. While not epic like 
The StandIt, or The Dark Tower, it is powerful, insightful, and terrifying. Also, the fact that the book is not epic is one of its greatest strengths. One of King's self-indulgences in the past couple of decades has been his ability to use 1000 pages to write a 500 page story. Remember that Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body were both just novellas. In Duma Key, King uses each of the 607 pages with power and efficiency.

Another of King's self-indulgences has been his treatment of Bryan Smith, the man who hit him during his walk and nearly killed him. That same man died a year later from a prescription drug overdose. I remember being especially uncomfortable of King's incorporation and depiction of the accident as a key element in one of his stories. (I HATE spoilers, so either you know what I'm talking about or you don't.) It got to the point where I really started to dislike the man, Stephen King. I mean, c'mon, let the dead rest.

But in this book, King delves into the aftermath of being broken and how being broken made him act and say things that simply were not of his character. Noticeably in this story, King only refers to the crane that causes the accident that crushes Edgar Freemantle and sets everything in motion, and he never once speaks of the driver. Later in the story as Edgar tests his newfound talents, the test results in the death of a child molester. Now, while the bastard certainly had it coming to him, Edgar is overwhelmed with a sense of power, horror, fear, and guilt. In this narrative, I believe that King is trying to work through the aftermath of his own brokenness and how it changed him, most noticeably in his treatment of Bryan Smith. And an interesting thing happened...I found that I had forgiven King's spite and nastiness during this period of pain and healing.

Finally, King puts to words so well what it is like to be broken...what it's like to not be yourself and be the monster and victim at the same time...and what it's like to look back on the wake of relationships that will never be the same again. Having gone through this myself (and I'm not out of the woods yet) I found myself weeping in sections where King's script perfectly put to words the hopelessness, frustration, and loneliness of a broken person. In this book, I found a bit of my own healing realizing that I'm not the only one to have dealt with this and coming to terms with the fact that it's not my fault.

Was this Stephen King's best book? I honestly don't have an answer. All I know is that it has had a bigger impact on me than any other work of fiction I've ever experienced.

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