Welcome to a new column here at I Am Geek, Book Shelf. I figured with the best of 2015 finally wrapping it was time to start expanding the type of columns that would be appearing on the site. Things are still relatively new here, and I’m still trying to build the foundation, and Book Shelf is part of the building process. As I’ve mentioned before I read quite a bit, but find that not everyone reads the same books as me. My hope for this area of I Am Geek is for us to find a reading circle together where we can discuss the books we’re reading and love. Maybe even introduce each other to some new worlds. I would love to eventually do a book club, if you guys are interested, but for the time being I’m just going to tell you, “hey I read this and this is what I thought”.
It’s sort of fitting that the first book to be reviewed here would be a Stephen King book. I’ve been a Stephen King fan ever since I read Salem’s Lot in sixth grade, and I’ve been a fanatic ever since I read the Gunslinger for the first time. Last time I tallied I believe I’ve read thirty-five of his novels, and I didn’t bother counting short stories or the ones I’ve re-read. I am well versed in the Stephen King universe, and when I read that he believed Lisey’s Story is the best book he’s written there was no question that it needed to be consumed. Although the reading of this novel has been many years in the making.
I received Lisey’s Story as a gift when it was first released, and jumped right into it. While the book didn’t hook me in instantly I plugged along for about two hundred pages or so before life or something like that had me put it aside. I’m a strong believer that you need to be ready for a book. If the subject matter interests you but you find yourself unable to relate then it’s possible that you haven’t had enough life experience to fully appreciate what it’s trying to say. That’s the train of thought I used when I chose Lisey’s Story to be my final book of 2015. I was going to finally read what Uncle Stevie thinks is his best book, and I now have thirthy-four years life experience to help me appreciate it. I can think back to all the Stephen King books I have read and loved, The Dark Tower series, The Long Walk, It, 11/22/63, the list goes on and on for me but out of all those novels… this was the one he held in the highest regard. That knowledge helps to bridge a special connection between author and his Constant Reader.
Unfortunately I couldn’t disagree with Uncle Stevie more on this one. I tried folks, I really did, but there was nothing I could do that found me really loving this book. By no means is it a bad novel, but it’s a difficult read and not easily accessible. The general story isn’t the problem really, Lisey’s famous author husband Scott is two years dead and she find’s herself pulling back the curtain on things that have been left dormant for many years. Re-opening wounds that had scared over ages ago. The connection between Scott and Lisey is very strong, and it has to be since it’s the back bone of the book, but it’s the inner workings of their relationship that caused the most problems for me.
Both Lisey and Scott shared an inner dialogue within their marriage, a way of speaking that only they understood. When the book begins it almost seems this isn’t the first time we’re meeting up with Lisey and are almost expected to know how her relationship works. This was my biggest problem with the work. Their inner dialogue consist of a number of made up words that replace actual words, and when spoken they sort of break the flow of the story. Almost like their is a disconnect between the reader and Lisey and Scott’s world. They exist in their own private bubble and we’re not necessarily meant to be invited in, but we’re allowed to observe.
The flow and placement of flashbacks also bothered me a bit. Everything that was written was well written, but the fluidness just wasn’t there for me. Not like other King works where events stream into each other one after another smoothly, Lisey’s Story was a bit jerky. Right as I would get into what was happening in the present the story would shift to the past, right when I was getting into the past it would shift to the present. The only time this didn’t bother me was the ending.
Don’t get me wrong though, there were moments here that I did enjoy. There were some fun Dark Tower easter eggs (the license plate that added up to 19 with the Roland’s initials tagged on was my favorite), Boo’ya Moon kind of reminded me of going todash in some degree, and Lisey was a strong character that we wanted to root for. There was just something missing. I almost feel that the book could have worked better if we had met Scott at the start and lost him early. This might have helped with some of the flashbacks and what not. I think the fact that the reader never meets Scott while he’s alive is problematic and hurts building a connection with him. Scott’s already dead so there’s nothing for us to attach ourselves to, he can have no growth, everything we learn about him are things he’s already done. There is no future to Scott and I think that bothered me.
While I’m happy that I got through Lisey’s Story, finally, and got to experience it I felt a little dissatisfied. Maybe that’s the point though. Maybe I’m looking for more when the book is what it is. A love story about two people who exist in their own world, or worlds, and maybe I’m supposed to be an outsider here. There is the need to not forget but also to let go, and I totally get the idea but just didn’t feel it. I wanted to though. I tried.
Final Verdict: 5 out of 10
Next Book: Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn