Saturday, 14 July 2018

Book Review: Misery by Stephen King

Paul Sheldon, the best-selling writer of the Misery novels, finds himself rescued from a car accident by his number one fan, Annie Wilkes. As the former nurse takes care of him in her home, she finds out he killed off Misery in his latest novel and decides to keep Paul as her prisoner as he writes Misery back to life.

"I am in trouble here. This woman is not right."

I read a number of Stephen King books pre-bookstagram and pre-goodreads, therefore I have never written a proper review for these books. Revisiting these books through readalongs and listening to audiobooks while running or at the gym gives me the opportunity to do so! Unfortunately when I revisited Misery it was in the form of the audiobook... and I was not a fan (and most certainly NOT its number 1 fan). The narrator did such a brilliant job of conveying the truly insane character that is Annie Wilkes, but otherwise it was very monotonous and boring at times. BUT I know that's not really the case for the book itself.

Similar to Gerald's Game, the events of this book primarily take place in one location. Ordinarily that would bore the life out of me, but King has this ability to grab your attention and keep you hooked anyway. That being said, there are still some boring parts in this book - but they are very few and far between. It is literally quite impossible to look away during the interactions between Annie and poor Paul Sheldon. Anytime Annie is on the scene, she steals the show - it's those parts where it's just Paul's meandering thoughts that I would tune out of sometimes. This is much better portrayed in the movie for me.

Something else that the movie benefits from is cutting out the parts where Paul is writing his new Misery book. I honestly have never cared less about anything in my entire life. I just DO NOT care. This is fair enough when you're reading the book and can just quickly skim over these parts - however, this is much more difficult when listening to the audiobook. I quite honestly feel like this is one of those rare scenarios in which the movie is much superior to the book. It takes the GREAT story that King tells and trims it down to a really effective movie.

Annie Wilkes is one of King's most iconic characters and the story is one of his most terrifying, because there are no scary monsters or supernatural creatures, Annie is all human and 100% crazy. She also brings a lot of humour to the story (for me anyway), I can't help but crack up when she goes on rants about different things. And the scene with the axe... one of the most nail-biting, stressful and cringeworthy events I've ever read in a book.

I really like Misery, but I don't seem to regard it as highly as lot of other Constant Readers. I can't pinpoint what is exactly, I just know it wouldn't make my top 20 list. I guess I never really connected with it on a personal level, and so many other King books DO make me FEEL so many emotions, so... it just slides down the list a bit. I do think it would be a great starting point for new King fans, as it isn't particularly scary, it's more of a psychological thriller. A nice way to introduce yourself to Mr King's works.

4 stars.


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