Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Misery by Stephen King

Misery by Stephen King
Published May 1990 by Penguin Group
Source: this one is mine

Publisher's Summary:
Overview Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.


My Thoughts:
Well, it was summer and clearly summer is the time for a Stephen King readalong so I couldn't resist when Care of Care's Online Book Club rallied the King Readalongers. Here's the thing with Stephen King - he can be very grisly and gruesome but he really is quite a good writer so I always know that it will be worth my time to join the gang.

I often say that I don't read horror books or watch horror movies because there is enough to be afraid of in the real world and I don't need any new ways to be frightened. There are all kinds of things to be afraid of in the world but in Misery King comes back to the idea that one individual can be the scariest thing. In Misery, Uncle Stevie hasn't given me a new thing to be afraid of; instead, he has hit on exactly the thing that I fear the most - people who are utterly lacking in a moral compass. The paranoids, the self-absorbed who care only about getting what they want regardless of the cost to others. That would be Annie Wilkes. She gives credence to the argument that some people are just born evil. Seriously, she is one screwed up lady who is undoubtedly mentally ill but, folks, this business with Paul is not her first trip to the rodeo.

Is it a stretch, sometimes, to buy into the idea that Paul could disappear for months and have left so little trail that no one even has idea where to start. Maybe. Is it a stretch to believer that Annie could have done what she's done in the past and still be free to go about her business? Maybe. But by the time that you might start to think "really???", it's too late. You are too sucked into needing to find out just how deranged Annie will get and whether or not Paul will survive. And, oh, how King plays with his readers, showing sympathetic glimpses of Annie and making Paul a rather unlikeable man it can be hard to care for.

In the end, although there's more than enough violence, Misery is a mind game. Can Paul keep his sanity long enough to free himself? Can he manage to outwit Annie or even figure her out well enough to keep her on an even keel? How, exactly, does she envision this playing out in her mind? I could have done with less gore but I do appreciate a psychological thriller and a book that makes me afraid to keep reading. On that score, King succeeds.


17 comments:

  1. Loved the book, but the movie with Bates and Caan even more --saw it about 10 time--a definite go to movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've only watched the movie once - just cannot make myself watch it because it would still make me jump!

      Delete
  2. My husband just told me (in detail) about this book last night during dinner. He's only 1/3 through, but there was so much detail to share! I do think King puts a few things out there that aren't strictly believable, and I've decided he doesn't care about that -- it is just a way to advance his plot. For example, my husband said the young man just happens to stumble across that chest. Very unlikely... I'm looking forward to hearing more about it when he finishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, you are not going to want all of the details!

      Delete
  3. Yes, exactly!! A mind game for sure. These stories that center around captivity in general can be rough to read. The idea that one person could lord life over you in that manner is terrifying and then to be crippled to the point of not even being able to stand... that really changes your perspective of things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially tough for a control freak to read about!

      Delete
  4. I love horror in all forms - books, movies. It doesn't matter. I really enjoyed Misery and only got grossed out once. Like you though I am more creeped out by people like Annie. They have no sense of right or wrong and they are just plain nuts. I couldn't imagine living through all that crap.

    I really need to get my review written as well, What listening to Misery did was set me off on a King kick. lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too! I'm ready to read more King!

      Delete
  5. This was such a fun read and readalong! (And really, how can you resist the King gang). ;) It's funny because I NEVER consider how far-fetched King's books are when I'm reading them...just go along with the ride. Though I'm guessing that as technology has advanced, King has had to get a little more creative. How many times have I thought "if he only had a cell phone!" And oh my yes--those particular scenes made me wince! Gah!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, Annie would have taken his cell phone away right away and she probably would have just thought computers were cockadoodie!

      Delete
  6. I've only read on King book. Shame on me but sometimes I think the movie will just have to do it for me! Great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is one of the few adaptations of his books that really works on the big screen. Most of them just don't have the same intensity. Cujo, for example, scared the hell out of my when I was reading it, but the movie was kind of boring. Much easier to put yourself into the vulnerable place in a book.

      Delete
  7. I just watched the movie this morning! And it was rather tame in comparison. Not sure if I hadn't read the book, if I would call it 'tame' exactly... The movie does well the few things (like your tracking of Paul's absence) that the book has in a different time line - but what I always love about King is the little bits of humor. I wasn't scared by this one as much as I thought I would be. I think it was because I was so busy noticing the nuggets and tweeting too much to be swept away. (like being the hostess at a party?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, a sledgehammer seems pretty gentle in comparison!

      Delete
  8. It was a bit too gory for me, too, but I agree about the mind games. So I wasn't the only one who found Paul unlikable? That's a relief. Annie SCARED me. But I couldn't wait to find out what she'd do next.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wasn't scared, really, but I found the book very suspenseful. I enjoyed especially the insights into the craft of writing that are woven throughout the story, like the game of "Can you?" I have found that Stephen King generally plays fair with the reader and in the pre-Internet days it would have been fairly believable that a solitary type of person would take a road trip and not tell anyone when and where he was going. Now, it would be all over Facebook and Instagram, though!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm not a horror fan either, but I'm becoming a King fan. I think this might go on the Oct reading list. And you're right, the scariest thing is a person without a moral compass.

    But, this made me smile: "...this business with Paul is not her first trip to the rodeo." Nicely put :)

    ReplyDelete