Paulelmo's Blog

Thoughts on Stephen King’s latest, The Outsider

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We all have things we just do, things we’ve always done and see no sense in not continuing to do. For me, one such things is this: I read Stephen King books. When I say that, I mean that I’ve read them all. I had read them all, but then he put out a new one, and, having read that, I’ve read them all again. Kinda brings to mind our old friend Mitch Hedberg, “I use’ta do drugs; I still do, but I use’ta too.”

The new novel is called The Outsider. It’s number 57.

My mother was reading Stephen back in the late 70s, and she just passed those books along to us.

I began reading him sometime not long after, 1980’s Firestarter being the first novel I recall coming out after I had. I stayed fairly current with him on new offerings through most of the 80s and then fell off some; still, I continued to read the books here and there.

I was always chasing him, but not so much that I wasn’t content to stay five or so behind.

Then, about three years ago I decided I was going to catch up with him, and two years ago I did. In early March of 2016 (I know because I finally wrote him a letter after three and a half decades of being a fan) I finished up 2001’s Black House (co-written with Peter Straub and the sequel to 1984’s The Talisman).

For the first time in more than three and a half decades, the world didn’t contain a Stephen King novel I hadn’t read. It was a victory for me of course, but it wasn’t all positive. Yes, I had finally caught up with him, but at some point the fact that there wasn’t a Stephen King novel I hadn’t read set in; now I had to wait.

That kinda stunk. I only had to wait until June, as that was when End of Watch, the third book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy, was released, but since then there has been nothing.

That’s not entirely true. He and his son Owen released a novel together last September. The title of that one was Sleeping Beauties, and, while I began it, I didn’t finish it. I like having one out there that I haven’t read, even if it is a collaborative project.

The boys got me The Outsider for my birthday, so there was no question about whether I would read it or not.

Now I have.

I’m not in the habit of rating Stephen’s books, because my ratings probably wouldn’t be worth anything to anyone who hasn’t read all the others. Still, if I had to rate this one, I’d give it 3.5 out of five stars.

The Outsider is a fine book, but it’s rather predictable. Quite like his last true horror release, 2014’s Revival, I liked the first half of the book better than the second half. You can imagine that that isn’t the greatest thing to say about the horror/suspense thriller genre.

There was some good suspense, but it wasn’t “unsettling and compulsively readable,” as the book’s jacket promised, nor was the suspense “almost unbearable,” as it also touted.

Still, it was a good read. The characters were strong enough to like and dislike and root for and against, but not so strong that they inspired feelings as strong as those of The Green Mile or Under The Dome.

Being a long-time fan, I enjoyed Stephen taking me to places and situations he had taken me to before, an ambush scene and a search for a monster under the earth, and I really just enjoyed reading words Stephen King put onto pages. The Outsider isn’t his best, but it’s certainly worth your time, whether you’ve read none of his books or if you’ve read them all. I’m pleased to have read it, even if it means I have to go back to waiting for the next one.

Be well, my friends. Much love from here.

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