Joyland Review

One of Stephen King’s most famous quotes is: “Death is when the monsters get you” …So Steve, when exactly did the Crimson King knock on your door?

As a lifelong fan of this generations best author, I have to say, lately I can’t help but be a little disappointed.

It was bad enough when he decided that The Gunslinger series needed another book (The Wind Through the Keyhole), and I’m not even going to go into the gigantic mess his Under the Dome mini-series is ( can you at least put one thing into the show that was in the book? No? Okay, thanks). Gone are the days of The Tommyknockers, The Stand, It, Roadwork, Rage, and The Shining. The poetic, real life dialogue and his deranged ideas that he gets from “that deep pool of ideas in the middle of all of us” seems to be far in the past. As his “constant reader,” I’m going into literary withdrawal! Richard Bachman, come to the rescue!

Joyland is his newest short novel written for the Hard Case Crime collection. The central theme is college kids back in the ’70s working at an amusement park for the summer before they head back to school… but guess what?? It’s a haunted amusement park… Yeah, really. It’s far-fetched, an easy read, short, and you can probably figure out the ending by the end of the second chapter. Could it be written by Dean Koontz? Probably. The point is, if your looking for another book to add to your collection from the master, you can definitely leave Joyland out.

A purportedly “riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old-and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time” is trying to be to much, in too few pages, with no substance beyond the stinted dialogue from generic characters.

Am I being harsh? Yes and no. This guy is my hero, I own every single book he’s ever written. I re-read all of them once a year. I can quote  Duma Key, Pet Semetery and Misery at the drop of a hat. When I read the last page of The Gunslinger series,  I cried for two days because it was so perfect. Joyland is perfectly fun and completely forgettable.

And yet I have hope! The sequel to The Shining comes out in ten weeks! In typical fanatic fashion, I have pre-ordered a first edition and I’m patiently counting down the days. Will it be another gut wrenching love letter to his die-hard fans? We can all hope right? And if not – fuck it, He’s Stephen King.

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Robin Amstutz

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