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Book Review: “The Tommyknockers” by Stephen King

Hey there fine reader folks! This post is about 3 weeks past due, but I’m going to make it a short one anyway, so here goes:

As with my last book review post, here’s the Instagram link to my 51bS7fJnjYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_One-Minute Book Review if you’re pressed for time. You’ll find the following mini-review:

Whew…all 747 pages down the gullet and I’m exhausted. I started this novel September 5th and I finished it today, November 2nd. I consider that a good deal, considering the size of this doorstopper and the fact that I read other stuff as well. Unfortunately, I can only give it 3/5 stars because, although it was a very horrific, compelling story, I felt like it was very much a lot of buildup for a kinda disappointing ending. (I should say that I can’t imagine how else the book should have ended so…that might be an invalid argument lol). It was awesome for character development and I was actually kinda sad when Bobbi Anderson died, and then Gard eventually as well. I guess I “became” (haha) attached to some of the characters so that was probably the main reason I continued reading. I was also pretty intrigued by the premise itself and it just fell a little flat at the end (like the last 15 pages) and kinda blah. Gard conquers the Tommyknockers but dies aboard the spaceship, and Hilly Brown is reunited with his brother David. Okay, so the Brown kids were safe in the end (well, maybe not psychologically!) and the rest of Haven is in ruins. I could have predicted the ending 300 pages in. The children are saved and the adults get fucked. That’s about all I can say. The unearthing of the spacecraft is decently entertaining, and the relationship between Bobbi and Gard is nice enough to ponder, the alien Tommyknocker invasion is described well and grotesquely enough. But some pages just felt like filler and any Stephen King fan knows he’s about as long-winded with his descriptions as they come. (Like…got it already!) Good story but could have been much shorter, like many Stephen King tomes!

Since “The Tommyknockers” was published many, many years ago (in 1988, when I was a baby), I consider it one of King’s “middle” novels. It’s not his earliest work by far but it is still really different from his more recent work. Before picking it up, I read reviews of this book saying it was definitely “King material” and well within the spectrum of his usual horror genre, but much more heavy on the sci-fi aspect. Having read several other King novels in the past (“Christine,” “Dolores Claiborne,” “The Eyes of the Dragon”, “Lisey’s Story,” “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” “Rose Madder,” “The Green Mile,” “Gerald’s Game,” “11/22/63,” “Mr. Mercedes,” etc.), I can say with certainty that I haven’t encountered another King novel or story quite like “The Tommyknockers.” (At least not yet…) And that was probably one of the main reasons I swept through it as quickly as I did. (Yes, 2 months for 747 pages is quick for me!)

3/5 stars may not sound very impressive but (as per the One-Minute Book Review) the reason I voted the book down was largely because of it’s size and heft, when I felt it could have been much shorter and still have achieved the same effect. (But what do I know, Stephen King’s been doing this for a long freaking time!) 🙂 The science fiction element was orchestrated really well in this book, and I have to give King credit for trying something new in writing it. (To be sure, the large majority of his fiction has a supernatural element to some extent, but this one just felt incredibly different and…separate from his other writing. Almost as if King had just binge-watched the “Alien” movies and was uniquely possessed with similar ideas.) Indeed, he writes a fabulously grotesque story of alien-invasion and human vulnerability, and I think the characters are fully developed and largely relatable (with the obvious exception of the green goo circulating through their increasingly pale, translucent bodies!)

I won’t go so far as to say that I predicted the ending (I’m never THAT prescient!), but the ending was largely unsurprising. I don’t think the book really went out with a *bang* like I was hoping it would, but at the same time I can’t imagine how King would have chosen to end it, had the children (Hilly and David Brown) not been rescued and the adults (Bobbi and Gard, not to mention all the other human casualties) sacrificed in the way they were. Again, a lot of filler to explain what I felt was already going to happen: the children are saved, and the not-so-sweet town of Haven is in ruins, smoldering with death and delusion. (Even though I’m unsure if it’s fair to ask this of fiction), I still wonder what the whole point of it was…was some lesson to be learned? What message should I walk away with, other than “eh…it’s just another King masterpiece, not to be questioned?”) Maybe I was to be warned against letting curiosity get the better of me, or not to sell out to the temptation of greed and power, lest everyone be damned for my actions and consequences? Maybe it was supposed to bring more questions than answers…as in life itself???

Anyway, I enjoyed it for the most part. The fact that I read it while listening to the audio book was a plus, and I recommend listening to any book this size on audio, as the theatrical experience is very rewarding. It really helps the pages fly by, especially when you feel some parts (or many parts) lagging, too convoluted with (Stephen King) inner-dialogue or slow action sequences.

3stars3/5 stars for “The Tommyknockers”

See you guys later! Gotta get back to reading!

Forever Between Pages,

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