March 25, 2007
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
Finished on 3/23/07
Rating: 4.5/5 Terrific!
Chunkster Challenge #3
Once upon a time, in the haunted city of Derry (site of the classics It and Insomnia), four boys stood together and did a brave thing. Certainly a good thing, perhaps even a great thing. Something that changed them in ways they could never begin to understand.
Twenty-five years later, the boys are now men with separate lives and separate troubles. But the ties endure. Each hunting season the foursome reunite in the woods of Maine. This year, a stranger stumbles into their camp, disoriented, mumbling something about lights in the sky. His incoherent ravings prove to be disturbingly prescient. Before long, these men will be plunged into a horrifying struggle with a creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past -- and in the Dreamcatcher.
Stephen King's first full-length novel since Bag of Bones is, more than anything, a story of how men remember, and how they find their courage. Not since The Stand has King crafted a story of such astonishing range -- and never before has he contended so frankly with the heart of darkness.
It’s been many years since I ventured into Stephen King’s world of horror. I’m not sure why I let Dreamcatcher languish on a shelf; we own a non-remainder hardcover, so it’s been around our house for at least six years. Thanks to Bookfool’s Chunkster Challenge, I was finally inspired to read the novel.
YIKES!! I’d forgotten how scary King’s books are. This one had my heart racing and stomach churning, forcing me to set it aside for something a bit tamer in the late evening hours. There was absolutely no way I could read this in bed. Well, at least at first. Once I got past a certain part, I was able to relax a bit and read a little later into the night. (Although a 620-page hardcover is not the easiest thing to juggle while lying prone in bed – especially with a cat on one’s stomach!)
First thoughts: King is far superior to Dean Koontz. I think I always knew this, but Dreamcatcher is a solid confirmation. What a masterful storyteller. Not only did he maintain the pacing throughout the entire novel, but he created a believable horror story, in spite of its incredible details. That doesn’t really make sense, but King’s writing is such that it doesn’t require the reader to consciously suspend disbelief because it’s so convincing that the impossible becomes plausible. Clocks that run backwards, photographs that come to life, telepathic conversations… sure, why not? In King’s world, these are the norm.
Another thing I liked about Dreamcatcher is that it wasn’t gratuitously overpopulated with secondary characters. I suspect that’s a temptation when dealing with such a lengthy narrative, but it was nice to not have to constantly flip back and forth, trying to reacquaint myself with minor characters from earlier chapters.
Looking through my list (which I plan to post for my next Thursday Thirteen) of all the Stephen King books I’ve read, I realize my favorites are generally those of great length. Call me crazy, but I like to be drawn deep in to the terror-filled world King so deftly creates. Do I like haunted houses? No. Do I like roller coasters? Nope. Do I hide my eyes during scary movies? Yep. So why do I love to be spooked by King? Because he’s a fabulous writer; great sense of place (love that Derry), memorable characters (Pennywise and Randall made very brief appearances in Dreamcatcher), believable dialogue, and all the thrills and chills of an E-ticket ride.
Flipping back through the book, rereading the passages I marked with sticky flags, I do have one minor complaint. And it’s not really directed at the author, as I think it was part of the stylistic manner in which the story needed to be told. I simply had a tough time, early on, keeping track of the time sequence, which was anything but linear. I had to just let go mentally and take the strange flashbacks and dream sequences as they came. Trying to figure out who was where and how old they were in comparison to their friends was futile. Once I got a handle on this particular style, it really wasn’t any trouble.
I enjoyed this book so much that I’m tempted to ignore my toppling stacks and have a Stephen King marathon, beginning with The Stand (probably my #1 favorite), quickly followed by It and Bag of Bones. But, no. I have far too many new-to-me books I want to read. These will just have to wait until I have a little more time to devote to re-reading. As it was, this hefty novel took me about ten days to complete. Dreamcatcher is definitely a “keeper” and one I’ll read again. I highly recommended the book, but not to those with a weak stomach, for this one leans heavily toward the gross and disgusting side of horror.