Duma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Excuse me, Mr. King, but what the hell is this?
Jesus, what a mess. Duma Key is the worst Stephen King book I've read since Lisey's Story. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's even worse than Lisey's Story, because while that book was, frankly, retarded and had the absolute WORST plot resolution of any book EVER, it at least had the benefit of suspense. There was a clear and present danger throughout, there was a recognizable Bad Guy (along with a few other things that go bump in the night, as you would expect from Stephen King), and even more important than the fact that you had at least a vague notion of where all this was going was the fact that you could be almost entirely sure that it was going somewhere. In other words, it was what a thriller should be, at least in that respect. Duma Key, on the other hand, was...about a dude painting.
This Freemantle dude gets maimed in an industrial accident, moves to Florida, and paints a bunch of pictures. Oh, and he meets this guy who speaks Spanglish even though he's a white dude from, like, Omaha or somewhere, and also an old lady with Alzheimer's. Aaand...yeah, that's about all that happens for almost four hundred pages; Freemantle paints, and everyone is just amazed by how good he is. You only faintly have a sense that some weird shit is going on, and that mostly just because it's freakin' Stephen King, come on. Nothing scary or even particularly interesting happens until about two-thirds of the way through the book, when some fucking creepy undead kids finally show up to scare the bejeezus out of this asshole. Unfortunately, that still doesn't save the reader the horror of what comes next.
Edgar's Big Damn Art Show.
Maybe I just have no stomach for a bunch of over-educated, over-privileged, pontificating, pretentious fucks standing around jerking each other off over art--or anything, actually--but the whole thing was nigh on painful for me, particularly when Elizabeth showed up and everyone was lauding the Great Patron of the Arts, and then she started giving this horrible, stilted, over-the-top art critique. Ugh. I was actually, literally rolling my eyes by that point. I mean, it all struck me as the sort of thing you'd find in some horrendous dime-store novel, the author of which clearly wishes this would happen to him or her, and who has always dreamed of being the recipient of this brand of exaggerated praise and adoration. Gross. I expect better of you, Stephen.
After that, the real story finally gets underway and King starts elucidating his convoluted plot. Like he could have done TWO HUNDRED FUCKING PAGES AGO. Seriously. And I could have excused the amount of time and unnecessary word-count it took to get there, because I feel like King could have salvaged the book at that point, but instead he chose the single STUPIDEST method of exposition EVER. EVER. And that's what pisses me off more than anything else about this book, to be honest; Duma Key COULD have been good. Perhaps not great, but it could have been pretty damn interesting. A casual inspection of the copyright page reveals the band Shark Puppy as consisting of R. Tozier and W. Denbrough. As in Richie and Bill of the Losers Club. A clear nod, I should think, to the idea that Perse is of a similar nature to Pennywise, the Awful Monster of Awfulness from It. It is one of my very favorite King novels, though I feel there was room for more explanation about the origins and nature of Pennywise, so I was extremely disappointed by what I see as a missed opportunity here to get really meta and expatiate on an existing mythology.
So, in short, unless you're a hardcore Stephen King fan, I would steer clear of this one. The writing isn't up to King's usual quality, and considering that, in most of the book, nothing happens, and the rest of the book is blindingly stupid exposition, Duma Key isn't worth your time.
Kobra Kid, signing off.
[You can't stop the signal.]
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