Desperation isn’t the worst Stephen King book I’ve read, but it’s also a long way from the best. I think I left it too long between reading this and twin novel The Regulators (over two years, in fact), although it did make me chuckle on re-reading my review to recall: “ultimately I didn’t care a great deal about most of the characters, who could have been lifted right out of any number of King’s other books”. Because that’s literally what he does. Much like Frank Darabont and his travelling troop of actors, King lifts a number of characters wholesale, tweaks their names and backstories and just – hey, what if I told a story about the exact same evil, but set it in a small mining town instead of suburbia??? What would that be like???
The answer is – readable, but not excellent. For the most part, Desperation is too fixated on God, religion, and literal good vs. evil. Our hero is eleven-year-old David Carver, who literally prays his best friend back to life after an accident and winds up tasked with defeating a monstrous entity known only as Tak. As chores go, it kinda sucks.
Desperation feels gratuitously gory for the sake of gore, and our secondary protagonist is – surprise surprise – a middle aged male writer. At least in The Dark Tower series, King acknowledges his own self-insert.
Look, I didn’t hate it – I think you’d struggle to show me a Stephen King book I did hate. It was inevitable that at some point I’d wind up reading it, but I just can’t shake the feeling that there are other books I’d much rather have read on holiday.
[Read from 6-14 June 2017]