‘Why so soon?’ you may be asking. I might ask myself the same question. Truth is, I’ve been reading my brains out because my summer job hasn’t started yet, and I haven’t had much else to do besides read and write this dandy blog here. Oh well…you can never read too many books!
Today I’ll give my review of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. For those of you who have kept up on my blog (so rare are you that you might be eligible for the endangered species list), you know that I have already blogged about The Gunslinger.
Well, I’m going to do it again. If I may quote Judas Priest, “you’ve got another thing comin’.”
(Oh, and like last time’s blog, there are spoilers. Read on if you dare!)
The best part of The Gunslinger had to be the setting. I think ‘ingenius’ is the best word to describe it. A brilliant combination of fantasy staples (the ‘High Speech’ and the ‘Chosen One’ character) and horror tropes (the zombie-ish Slow Mutants and the quasi-post-apocalyptic terrain) really help to make the story feel fresh, even after twenty years of development in both genres (remember, The Gunslinger was first published in 1982). Furthermore, I loved the little connections between Roland’s world and our world. I felt that this connection furthered the realism even more, to the point where it seemed like I was reading a historical fiction rather than a novel.
And now the criticism. Sometimes I found myself thinking, ‘Ok, Stephen, we get it, Roland is enigmatic. But for god sakes, can he at least try to show some emotion?’ Sometimes I felt like he was just too flat, particularly because there didn’t seem to be an compelling motivation to visit The Dark Tower. I’m sure we’ll find out later in the series, but in this volume, it seemed like Roland had to find the man in black and get to The Dark Tower just because that’s what the story called for, and not really for any deeper reason.
This next part isn’t necessarily a criticism (or a compliment, for that matter), but I found The Gunslinger to be very tragic. Just when I was beginning to like Ally…bam, bullet to the face. Just when I was beginning like Jake Chambers…wham, hundred foot plunge off a mountain. But to be fair, the story is supposed to be sad, Roland is a loner, and I’m certain King meant for the deaths to jerk some tears. He has a knack for really delving into characters that he’s just going to kill off in a few pages anyway, just so that you really feel the deaths. Very smart writing, if you ask me. But sad. Very sad.
Overall, an excellent introduction to a new world. Though a little sparse on characterization, the book more than makes up for it with vivd imagery and an innovative vision.
P.S.: Just bought The Drawing of the Three today (that’s the sequel to The Gunslinger). Big thanks to the Barnes and Noble in Union Square. Four floors, are you kidding me!? Anyway, liftoff should commence on that baby soon enough. At the rate I’ve been reading, I should finish up in, oh, I dunno, maybe a few minutes…?