Stephen King. One of the world’s best selling authors. And up until recently, I had no interest in reading any of his works.
I’m starting a new series on my blog featuring well known authors or books that I have never read. Will they live up to the hype? Or will I banish them to a 1-star rating on my Goodreads page? Only time will tell.
I think Stephen King is a worthy adversary for my first go at The Best Book I Never Read. Everyone, from my dad to my favorite YouTuber, has seemingly read at least one King book. Even I have reluctantly seen a few of his movie adaptations (but why is The Shining so boring??). I wanted to know what all the hype was about so I dug in to Pet Sematary.
In Pet Sematary, Dr. Louis Creed moves to Ludlow, Maine for a new job. Louis and his family can’t wait to get settled into their picturesque old home. But the trucks on the road in front of their house turn the corner just a little too fast, taking some of the neighborhood pets for road kill. The pets are laid to rest in the “Pet Sematary” in the woods near Louis’s home. But after a few visits to the Pet Sematary, Louis begins to hear warnings from both his neighbors and his nightmares about the secrets buried with the pets.
The Reading Experience
I chose Pet Sematary because the tagline “sometimes, dead is better” got me hooked. The autobiographical nature of the story intrigued me as well. The Author’s Note where King talks about the similarities between his move to Maine and Louis’s, down to the dead cat, reaffirmed my curiosity. It was also readily available at the library in both e-reader and audiobook format which made the decision even easier. I roped my boyfriend into buddy reading it with me which was a great way to bond with him as well as complain about the main character if I needed to.
I started off by listening to the audiobook which was narrated by Michael C. Hall (any Dexter fans out there?).
His narration was incredible. I hated the main character but Michael C. Hall’s narration kept me going because he gave life to Louis where I otherwise would’ve been bored.
About halfway through, I resigned myself to reading on my e-reader because I knew I could read faster with my eyes than I could listening. I think that the audiobook was the right way to get me intrigued and then switching to my e-reader helped me speed read through until the end.
This review will contain spoilers.
This book was the definition of slow burn. King really spends his time planting little seeds of doubt in our main character’s mind which I found a little repetitive. Throughout the book, Louis is constantly thinking about the pet sematary (as the sign in the graveyard has spelled it) but rarely does he do anything about it. The entire first 80% of the book dragged a bit for me. There was also a lot of unnecessary sexism and racism that nearly had me put the book down for good. The way that Louis spoke about his wife and one of the doctors at his work was off-putting and unnecessary for the rest of the story. I did have to remind myself that this book was published in the early 80s and was most likely a product of its time. The ending though made me understand why people read Stephen King.
The body horror was described in such a way that I felt as though I could sense these grotesque monsters in my home, much like Louis did in the first part of the novel. Louis’s slow descent into madness after his son dies is drawn out in such a way that I could understand how he convinced himself to try to resurrect the boy. I think if this book had been about 100 pages shorter, I would have liked it a lot more.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Overall I think that Stephen King is a great writer. The way that he describes both physical horror and psychological horror is unmatched. However, I do think that he suffers a bit when it comes to pacing. Sometimes you just need to spit it out man! I also think that this book is a sign of the times and I would hope that his more recent books don’t have such degrading language regarding women and people of color.
Would I read another Stephen King book? Maybe. While I didn’t love Pet Sematary, I do understand why people love his writing and this story was certainly unique.
Got any suggestions for me to tackle? Let me know!