I'm so excited to introduce to the blog, my parents! They are both HUGE Stephen King fans, Constant Readers and we all got King's Hard Case Crime book, LATER because of Night Worms, so we buddy read it. They only got one copy and took turns reading it so they co-authored their review. I don't really know the process behind how they did that because it sounds like one voice, so I'll just copy & paste what my mom said when she emailed it:
"Hi Sadie, you can edit this as you like. Dad sat down with me and we wrote this together. I feel weird that HE (King) might read this negative review without ever knowing that I completely love and adore HIM. he has given me so many years of wonderful stories and I will always buy his books."
That being said, I'll post their review first:
"This review honestly hurts to write. I was looking forward to another great read in the SK Hard Case series. Really anticipated a tight noir story with hot dames and wise ass bad guys. What I got was a hot mess dame in a lazy ass story.
Jamie Conklin is a kid that is just trying to get used to the fact that he can see dead people ala Sixth Sense, right down to seeing a casualty of a bike accident while he and his single mom are slowed up in traffic. Mr. King could’ve given us a million other scenarios that Jamie had the “shine” so why be lazy and use what’s been done? That bit bothers me.
Let me say here that I did enjoy the relationship that Jamie and his single mom Tia have throughout the story being told from Jamie’s point of view. King is the master at writing kids and senior citizens, his ability to convey a youthful or an aging narrative is a gift. The hot mess in this story is Liz. She’s nice, she’s a cop, she has problems, we see her fall apart. She is the Cujo in the story. It didn’t work for me.
There are places in the book that were semi-interesting because it’s Stephen King and he knows how to keep you turning the page, I kept expecting better because I am not used to yawning in the middle of any of his book. The grotesque ending felt tacked on for effect. Yes, I have high expectations from my favorite author. This isn’t a horror story or noir. I can’t recommend it.
Stay safe and don’t litter"
My cute parents:
If you identify as a Constant Reader, you approach a new King book with a personal reading journey decades in the making. Your first one. Your favorite one. The one that made you fall in love. The one that broke your heart. The book you tell everyone is the worst. The last one you read. The one you’ve read the most. The Top Ten. The Bottom Five.
Sometimes I feel like Constant Readers are the saltiest Stephen King fans there are.
We certainly can be the hardest to please. *Raising my hand*
When we hold a new King book in our hands, what are we looking for? For me, it’s the characters. Stephen King’s characters are EVERYTHING TO ME. They have lived in my reader’s heart since the moment they came to life on the page and they will never leave.
Oy the Billybumbler.
The Loser’s Club
Jack Sawyer & Wolf
Jake & Sadie
Andy Dufresne & Red
Gordy, Chris, Vern & Teddy
And on and on and on.
For me, King is in his wheelhouse when he’s writing from a kid’s POV and they have to stare down some unimaginable horror. That’s where the magic is for me. And so his new Hard Case Crime, LATER brought the magic home for me after a long spell of not feeling it.
LATER is the story of a young boy named Jamie who lives a pretty comfortable life with his mother. They have a sweet relationship. Fairly early on, it’s revealed to readers that he has a supernatural gifting (because it’s a Stephen King book and we show up for this).
Jamie is open to his mother about his gift but for the most part, he internalizes the depth of the struggle he goes through bearing the weight of it. As Jamie grows older and new relationships come in and out of his life, he realizes that some people can be trusted with knowing about what he is able to do and some cannot.
Jamie’s narrative sucked me right in. It was like coming home. I walked up to the first page and King reached out his hand and I just fucking left the world behind. There is this familiarity with the style and the storytelling where I was just like, “Yep. This is the shit right here.”
As Jamie gets a little older and begins to understand the power of his gift, he encounters something with an even greater power and this scared the shit out of me.
It has been a minute since King tapped that for me. It felt awesome!
My husband was in the living room while I was reading and a few times I held out my paperback like Simba the lion cub in the circle of life moment shouting, “YES!! THIS!!”
There are so many things to love about this book-it’s like a love letter to fans who have been with him for a long time because he tucks in some little tie-ins to the King universe that made me cry.
Literally. Fucking. Cried.
And you know, this book is not perfect. But if anyone else BUT the King wrote it, people would be like, OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!! But we hold Stephen King to this whole other standard. And I’m not shaming anyone because I do it too.
SLEEPING BEAUTIES? Meh. (I didn't even finish it)
THE INSTITUTION? Meh.
Like I said, it has been a minute.
This book is a five star for me. There was exactly one thing I didn't like about it. One. And I’m going to forgive it because for the most part, I was in blissed-out, Constant Reader euphoria and it felt damn good. He still has it for me. He’s still the man.