Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Book Review: Different Seasons by Stephen King

Considered by many to be King's best collection of stories/novellas, Different Seasons contains two stories that were ultimately developed into two of the greatest movies of all-time: The Body, which became Stand by Me, of course, and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption - the movie is obvious, no?

"Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."

Sometimes I really hate reading an awesome Stephen King book... no, I'm not crazy. I just get stressed about where I'm going to rank it in my top books list and what other books are gonna get pushed down the list!! Different Seasons is simply a masterpiece. Having read most of King's epic stories, I thought I'd seen King at this best - but no, this is his best. The writing, the characters, the storylines, it feels like everything is turned up a notch here. This is a prime example of how King is so much more than just horror.

Let's start off with Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Now I've already seen the movie, along with the majority of the population, but somehow that didn't matter. I still raced through each page, eager to see what comes next, even though I already knew the outcome! It's a story ultimately about hope, resilience and survival. Set against the backdrop of a bleak prison, these themes shine through even more prominently. A touching, emotional story and now one of my favourites.

Next up was Apt Pupil. Now I really liked this one. A former Nazi finds a willing student in young Todd Bowden and what follows is pure horror. The most unsettling parts of this novella were those wherein Dussander relays stories from the concentration camps in WWII. Having visited Auschwitz only last year, the atrocities that happened there just feel more real. This novella is a terrifying look at evil and the darkness that resides in these evil humans. Todd has to be one of the most hateful characters I've ever encountered in literature, a sexual sadist, a psychopath, just downright disgusting. Nevermind Dussander himself! Yet this story is absorbing, once it hooks you in, you can't get back out.

The horrific nature of Apt Pupil is swiftly followed by the nostalgic novella, The Body. Reading this novella is similar to being transported back in time to when you were a child, when all you wanted to do was hang out with your friends. You'd leave the house early morning and not come back again until it got dark. It's a beautiful story, and yet also quite tragic. Each of the boys come from homes or backgrounds that aren't entirely supportive and they are able to find true friendship and support within each other. In particular, the friendship between Gordie and Chris is touching, Chris is such a great character - wise beyond his years and he really cares for Gordie. Overall, this is a great look into those years where you "grow up" and relinquish your innocence, symbolised by the dead body out in the woods. Simply amazing!

Lastly, The Breathing Method - I actually read this one first as Abbie recommended to me. It is considered to be the "stinker" of the collection, and therefore I decided to read it first, so as not to end the collection on a bum note. But to be honest, I quite liked it! I liked the gentleman's club and their penchant for telling stories, it kinda sounded like a cool set-up that I'd love to be a part of. Miss Stansfield herself was a pretty badass woman, determined and strong. I don't really understand why people would forget about this one, or just cast it off as the "other story" in this collection. Granted, it's not as brilliant as the others, but it still left a lasting impression with me.

Overall, this book was just unbelievable. I lost count of the number of times where I just felt completely blown away by King's writing. This is a great, GREAT collection and now one of my favourite King books.



  1. Oh i see what you're doing there...the four fingers is for the four different seasons!!! So smart!

  2. Hahahahaha I had this comment all planned out for you Jo but then Matthew's completely distracted me! Hahahahahahah

  3. Is it bad that i find Apt Pupil hilarious? To me it's a dark comedy, I've laughed my way through it esp the ending. It's my favourite King story and i love how evil Todd becomes and how messed up the relationship between him and Dussander is.

  4. You should check out the movie of Apt Pupil, starring Ian McKellan, it's brilliant!


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