I still don’t know why I felt that it was time to read my first Stephen King book, or why I chose Pet Sematary for my initiation into King’s bibliography; but I did.
As I wasn’t too sure I was ready to commit to purchasing a Stephen King book, so I perused my local library’s catalogue, and I did not want to read IT because I absolutely hate clowns, and Pet Sematary was next on the list and I thought, why the hell not and put it on hold.
I picked it up yesterday from the library and I finished it this morning. So, I think it would be safe to say that I did enjoy reading it.
If you don’t know what Pet Sematary is about, here is the synopsis I grabbed from Goodreads:
The house looked right, felt right to Dr Louis Creed.
Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.
Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive threat.
But behind the house and far away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.
A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding.
On the whole, I had a great reading experience whilst reading this book. I was expecting it to get to me, to make me terrified – and I thought that I would be constantly putting this book down, to have a break from it as I have to do that with books that get a bit too much for me. For instance, when I was reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I couldn’t sit for hours and read it, I had to put it down every so often because it was just a lot. Whereas, in this case, I read this book in basically two separate sittings on Friday night and Saturday morning.
What I found is that I really enjoyed the way Stephen Kind wrote. His focus on developing the main character was a commitment that made the story all the more better for it. I loved the depth that King went into creating the character of Louis Creed, as the reader, you become incredibly invested in the decisions, the thoughts, the actions of Louis – you’re screaming at him when he makes stupid decisions but you empathise with him because you understand why he made those stupid decisions but still Louis oh my god. Though King’s love for a whole lot of description was something that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the story, sometimes it was just too much pointless description – but in saying that, would I feel invested in Louis as a character if there wasn’t such a descriptive narrative? Most likely not. It’s just the wat King writes, I assume.
In terms of the actual story itself, it was okay. Now, before y’all come at me in the comments – I did enjoy the story itself. But I kind of felt underwhelmed in terms of the terror/scare factor. The only point at which I felt creeped out was in the aftermath of Victor Pascoe’s death and then his appearance at Louis’ bedside and their traverse into the Pet Sematary. That was creepy. The premise was intriguing and maybe if I wasn’t in such a weird reading mood, it would creep me the fuck out more but I just didn’t get to that point.
What I did feel was heartbreak. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. So, SPOILER ALERT when Louis’ son Gage gets run over and we see the direct aftermath of that occurrence and the way in which it was effecting the entire family, that killed me. Because I could feel it. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and the way King wrote the grief, the guilt, the disconnect one feels with reality – it was just so wonderfully done.
But 50 pages in, I predicted that the premise of the story was heading into the direction of someone, either Rachel (wife), Ellie (daughter) or Gage (son) was going to die and then be resurrected in the Pet Sematary by Louis because the foreshadowing was extremely blatant. I wish it went into a bit more detail about the Pet Sematary and burial ground instead of just having info-dump type monologues by Jud, the neighbour. It would ahave added a bit more to the overall narrative, I think, if we actually got to explore this aspect of the plot – an aspect that is pretty fundamental to the entire storyline. It also would have been pretty cool if we saw more of the story from the perspective of Rachel. At the end, we do get a few scenes from her persepective – but it would have been awesome if we could have had more in order to see her character grow as well. If this was truly a book that the entire family was part of the ‘terror’ instead of mainly just Louis, that would have been absolutely insane and extremely terrifying.
I would say that this is more of a character driven book, which I wasn’t expecting and was super pleased with it; but nothing really happens in terms of plot for a lot of the book. The ‘terror’ aspect is more about the sense of foreboding, the dreams, the knowledge that something was out there. The last 100 or so pages is where everything seems to come together and the climax of the storyline hits. Which was fine, but 300 pages of nothing more than those elements I just outlined above, I was getting a bit “okay I get it, just let something happen for god’s sake“. And when it did, it was engrossing, slightly predictable, well written, but kind of underwhelming. Am I in the minority here? I feel like I am.
I rated this a 3.5 out of 5 stars and I definitely will be picking up more Stephen King books in the future (definitely not IT though…clowns *body shivers*) and I’m excited to go through my library’s catalogue and pick some goodies. Do you have any recommendations? Also, is King’s newer stuff better in terms of writing, or is his past books better?
I hope this didn’t offend anyone, because I never want that!
Until next time, friends! Happy reading.
Lots of love,