Neil and Mike have been telling me to read Bone for the better part of a year. I was deterred mostly by its gargantuan size and the fact it never seemed to be just the right time to sit down and absorb it. Whenever something has that much hype surrounding it, it’s hard for your expectations not to be high. But Bone managed to exceed them.
I read the entire graphic novel series in just a few sittings and have come to this conclusion: Jeff Smith is entirely too talented. He is a gifted artist, bringing the world of the valley to life in stunning detail. Then, of course, there is the plot, which is wide, arcing, and mesmerizing. Finally, there is the humor. The dialogue throughout Bone is quite good, but the humorous moments (frequent throughout) are some of my absolute favorites. “Stupid, stupid, rat creatures” made me laugh so hard. The use of repetition was also very effective. Jeff Smith may be too talented, but I am certainly glad that he is.
Here is the thing about Stephen King. He tends to start the climax of his books with a good three hundred pages left. I understood that we were just getting to the exciting bit and it was going to stay that way for a significant chunk of the book. Neil just finished Carrie and said it was the same way. It seems to be a King habit, and Doctor Sleep was no different.
I was a little wary to read Doctor Sleep. As you know, I just finished The Shining and I felt very protective of it. It was terrifying, but it was also unbelievably good: well written, exciting, evocative. I tried to watch the Stanley Kubrick film version and was completely turned off. Jack is more of the main character of that movie and the background is mostly ignored, while what I think makes the book great is the focus on Danny, his abilities, and the family’s history and dynamic (also I hated the weird Tony voice finger thing in the movie).
When I was talking to Neil about starting the book, he said he guessed it might feel like Shining fanfiction, which I was worried about. I don’t know why I ever doubted King. I should know by now that he is a master storyteller through and through.
Doctor Sleep catches up with Danny the man: Dan Torrance, troubled alcoholic. Despite the murderous and dangerous effect Dan saw alcohol have on his father and his family, he has become a slave to the bottle. It helps to dampen and mute his shining, which as he’s grown has been more curse than blessing. He also recognizes that he might just be a drunk through and through, a view that is made concrete as he seeks help.