I don’t consider myself a critic. I try to be a nice book reviewer and give everything I read a fair chance. But I can’t always do that, particularly not with Pet Sematary by Stephen King.
Read my review from Goodreads to find out why I’m not a fan of Stephen King. (Gasp!)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I don’t usually write scathing book reviews. I always give a book the benefit of the doubt, even if it’s not that great. But I felt so strongly about this that I felt I had to say my piece. This was my first Stephen King book, and I was ecstatic to read the King of horror’s self-proclaimed scariest novel.
To say I am disappointed in this book is a gross understatement.
This book is not scary, not in the slightest. I’m an absolute wimp, but I wasn’t even mildly scared at any point. Many parts of this book are unbelievable and loaded down with those adverbs King claims to hate as well as unnecessary details.
Reading this book was a chore. I got 300 pages in and had to start skipping over entire paragraphs, trying to get to the “good” parts that never came. As a rule, I never skip any parts of a book, not so much as a word. But King’s detail-laden, bulky paragraphs were difficult to get through and often took readers out of the action for pages at a time.
Coming from a writer’s perspective, I’m appalled that King saved the majority of the action for the last 60 pages. Call it building suspense if you want, but I think it’s a cop-out, a cheap ending that left too many unanswered questions and made me feel like I’d wasted a few days of my life.
He includes minute details about things we don’t care about: Surrendra’s family getting locked up back home over political protests, the couple walking around Mason St when Louis is digging up Gage’s grave, which, by itself, was a half-page of exposition we could have easily done without. While Louis is climbing the tree to get into the graveyard, he thinks up five grave puns. FIVE. Yet he hasn’t even thought about how he’s gonna get his son’s body back out of the cemetery. Not even slightly believable or realistic.
I’m also not a fan of how he gives the plot away. We don’t see Gage die. His convenient, omniscient narrator tells us later that he’s hit by a truck. If this is supposed to be a horror book, I wanna see two-year-old intestines, undeveloped brains splattered on the highway. I wanna see that truck barrelling straight for him. I want that moment of impact, the crunch of baby’s bones. THAT would give me nightmares. I don’t want to start part 2 and have a narrator tell me “Louis Creed might have harboured some of these feelings had he been thinking rationally following his son’s funeral.” (Paraphrased.)
Pascow’s character was contrived as well, and that was one of the biggest let-downs for me. There was no real connection between his death and the overall plot. Yes, I suppose he was meant to warn Louis of the coming dangers, but he stuck out like a sore thumb. From what we know, Pascow has no connection to the Pet Semetary at all. He’s just a plot device, and a poorly implemented one at that.
I expected better from the King of horror. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of his books, which is a shame. Think I’ll just stick to the films.
(Spoiler alert — I tried to watch the films, and I couldn’t even manage for 10 minutes.)
Are you a King fan? You’re more than welcome to defend his honour in the comments! (Though somehow I think his honour doesn’t need defending.)