The movie is good but the book is great. I found the music and sound effects to be a little dated and distracting, however.
Typical King Classic
As with most Stephen King stories there is a lot of character development, I appreciate that. Interplay between characters is always a highpoint of a King novel. Stephen King can manage to put forth a reason for someones action I can relate to, no matter how crazy that action is. When a writer can make a connection between a reader and a character he has achieved something special.
I hadn't realized he narrated it himself till I read other reviews. He did an excellent job. The terrible music drowned him out a number of times. I was scratching my head at the inappropriate and distracting music.
I couldn't come up with a better title.
Character and plot development have always been his strong suit. I think thats is what marks the difference between a 'competent' book and an 'excellent' book. I had read it several times prior to getting the audio book so knew what to expect, but somehow it still had me on the edge of my seat all the way thru.
I would be willing to listen to Needful Things again simply because I love the story - I think it's one of Stephen King's best, most genuinely fiendish books - it's clever, wicked, tragic, and fun, if you can imagine all those attributes rubbing elbows in a novel.
The character of Leland Gaunt is amazing, and his powers of manipulation are unparalleled. He plays everyone in Castle Rock like a cheap guitar, absolutely everyone - and the fallout is amazing to watch.
I have a problem with most authors narrating their own books, and it's usually for the same reason every time. Mr. King is a native New Englander and, being from the South myself, it is difficult to forget that I am listening to Stephen King the guy from Maine, rather than simply listening to the story itself.
There are places in the audiobook where the speaker is drowned out by overly-enthusiastic (and overly long) keyboarding, and some of it is just downright painful. I'd list the character of Ace Merrill, who somehow earned his own theme music, as an example. Whenever his character makes an appearance, queue the theme music ... Also, there are several places in which loud static seems to have made its way onto the master copy. The audiobook needs a complete overhaul: a narrator with a neutral accent, and the removal of sound effects and music, which distract from rather than enhance the listening.
Needful Things for Your Heart's Every Desire: Caveat Emptor! While I realize a lot of people might not know what the Latin phrase means, it might inspire them to Google it, at least.
I feel a little guilty about this review because (1) I'm an enthusiastic Stephen King reader, and (2) I've read this particular book many times, so my review seems a little harsher than I mean it to. I love the story, and am not sorry I bought or listened to it, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't need some help in the production department.
I like to read Stephen King books when I want to get immersed into something, and I usually enjoy them. I didn't dislike this book, and I liked it better than others I've read (The Dark Half, Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, etc.). Still, there were two things about this novel that I had issues with that took me out of the 'immersion' that I like about reading his books. First and foremost, it felt like the novel should have taken place in a different decade. This came up many times, in moments where I would raise an eyebrow and think to myself, "This is supposed to be happening in the 90's?" Only by remembering the reference to Twin Peaks did I not have to go back and check. It reminded me of Salem's Lot in the way that the novel follows the threads of a wide swath of the townspeople in Castle Rock and then weaves them together throughout the story. That device worked very well in Salem's Lot, and really provided a clear picture of the town that King had constructed for the novel to take place in.
The problem with the device in Needful Things, in my opinion, is that the townspeople in Castle Rock talk and act like people from the same time period, or even earlier, than those in Jerusalem's Lot. For a novel set in the 90's, it seems odd that the huge controversies in town involve casino night at the Catholic church and whether someone was uncouth enough to bring a cake to the new shop owner. I have never been to a small town in Maine, but I grew up in the 80's/90's in a small town in Minnesota not far from Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegon. Maybe there were some in my town at that time who were still pining for Elvis, wore hair curlers under kerchiefs, and could get terribly wrought up over what the other churches in town were doing, but there couldn't have been very many. It's not that I have a problem with the characters, I just don't think they belonged in the 90's. Or at least, to be believable, there should have been characters whose concerns were more modern so it didn't seem like the whole town was stuck in the 60's. Ace Merrill comes closest since he had evolved from a hood in The Body to a cocaine dealer by the time of this novel, but he was still kind of depicted as a fifties-style greaser even if his hair was graying.
The second problem I encountered, and to be fair I recognize that this is a personal thing, was that people's beloved pets got murdered so many times in the book that I found myself wanting to skip forward so I didn't have to hear it in excruciating detail. In a work of fiction, violence against an animal can be very powerful and very symbolic, so normally I grit my teeth and get through it. I think it just happened too many times in this novel, to the point where I started thinking to myself that I would never let my pets anywhere near Stephen King. Yes, it showed how out of control the townspeople were getting. But it was still a little much to deal with after the fourth time it happened.
Say something about yourself!
I am new to the Stephen King experience and I love most of them and his narration makes the stories more personal somehow. Needful things gives me food for thought, it’s true in life we all have something or a memory most of us would do just about anything to have or have that time back. Again the story is good not his best in my opinion but the music is distracting and takes away from the experience.
Stephen King is one of those authors who make more than decent readers for their own books, and my quarrel lies not with his rather good performance. No, it is the quality of the recording that bothered me throughout. It sounds like the audio file was made by copying the original cassette tapes, without adjusting or polishing up the sound. King's voice seems to come from far away and the 1990's sound effects distract from the story and make it seem dated. Too frequent and distracting bits of late 80s music interrupt the flow of the narrative. Very disappointing, because the book remains a solid read.
King is a great writer however, His narration is to monotone. The Background music is very distracting.
critical book reader
A wonderfully told eternal story of temptations, desires, and a price we are willing to pay!
I love this book and have read it many times.
I love how King peppers in little mentions of other people's "needful things". Hugh Priest's foxtail is actually moldy and bare in places. Myra's sunglasses are actually held together with tape. The foreshadowing is subtle and you almost miss it.
I would only select a narration by Stephen King if it were the only unabridged version, or the only version at all of a book I'd like to listen to.
and do nasty things to each other. The author states this is a black comedy about greed and obsession. It’s not a genre for me. Instead of laughing at people, I was going ugh and oh - too much anger and stupidity.
Gaunt a demon (or devil) comes to town. He meets with many people. He knows each person’s weakness and greatest desire. He has a hypnotizing effect, fulfilling each person’s desire and compelling them to do a task. This task is something mean to another person and keeping it secret.
CAUTION SPOILER an example:
Gaunt tells Brian to throw rocks to break windows, the tv, and other items in Wilma’s home. The rocks have notes saying Nettie did it. Gaunt tells Hugh to kill Nettie’s dog with a note saying Wilma did it. Instead of talking to each other, Wilma and Nettie are enraged. They grab knives and kill each other simultaneously.
Actually the above kill scene was funny. I laughed, but I didn’t laugh at other kill scenes.
So, most of the story is getting to know people and watching them enjoy and obsess about whatever Gaunt gives them. They take extreme measures to protect it because they fear losing it. They do a task which is usually destroying A’s property and leaving a note saying B did it. Then A and B attack each other in a rage. Throughout this, the framed people don’t talk to each other or report damage to the police. No one acts in a rational manner.
A couple of characters eventually do some smart things at the end. It is sort of a happy ending. But so many people were foolish, vicious and dead, that it didn’t feel good. And, the ending was weak. It was the hand of God (or other power) coming in to fix things. Where was this power earlier in the story? Why does it appear only at the end? I can accept it - just mentioning - it was weak.
WHAT I LIKED:
I loved getting to know so many characters living in a small town. The author is great with descriptions and dialogue.
One unexpected reaction I had was feeling grateful that I didn’t have some of the problems these people had. One woman had such severe arthritis in her hands, she couldn’t zip a zipper, and she was in pain most of the time. What an awful way to live. Also a teen who stuttered who wished he didn’t. Stephen does this exceedingly well. I’ve read about similar problems in other authors’ books and didn’t feel as much empathy as I felt here.
Stephen King narrated this book, and his acting was very good. His accent probably fits the characters in the story. But I’d prefer an actor with a “generic accent.” Stephen says Mondeeey, Tuesdeeey, and a few other things that I’m not used to. I kept thinking this is Stephen the author. I’d prefer not thinking about “who” is narrating and just be immersed in the story.
Genre: paranormal suspense.
Ending: somewhat bad for the bad guy, barely good for a few good guys.