This book follows an archaeological research team leader as she sets out to discover what her father may have died trying to discover: the famed City of Gold. It is basically divided into three parts: 1) the inspiration to make the journey; 2) the journey itself; and 3) inside the city.
The first two parts are of moderate importance to the story, but they could have been written much more briefly. Part 1, the inspiration, brings the story together opening to closing. Part 2, the journey, was important in showing that ((**SPOILER ALERT** it would have been impossible or nearly so to return once the problems started)). However, they both probably should have been shortened, while keeping the highlights or the crucial scenes.
The third part is what the readers came to see. And it is great. The author keeps the readers guessing as to whether or not any supernatural influences are present, and I won't reveal the answer.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. My disclaimer would only be that if you feel bored during the first half, it's still worth it to read to the end.
From the very beginning, this story pulls you in. You want one thing and one thing only: to know what happens. The narration style is unique: it's first-person, but for a great deal of the story, the narrator is only an observer/bystander. At first it seems like it's going to be necessarily detached, and impossible to get into the characters' heads, but you end up primarily identifying with the narrator. He is, after all, the one who thinks rationally and seems to tell the story without bias. You're watching from the outside, yes, but it feels more like sitting down with the narrator and listening to him tell the story. You're an old friend of his, and he's telling you about this intense experience for him.
I'll be honest: I read this only because it's the sequel to In the Woods. I was hoping (though not expecting) to find the answers here that I didn't get there. I didn't get them here either.
That being said, this was a good story in its own right. It was just as expertly written as In the Woods (which, if you haven't read it, I'd suggest reading before you read this one). Fascinating voice kept me in the story at all times and I rarely got distracted. I felt I knew the characters just as well as they knew each other, just as well as the author knew them.
Yes, there is an aspect of this story that's a pretty stretched coincidence, that other reviewers have also mentioned (i.e., what are the chances of two non-related people looking 99% alike?). But it was just well done. The characters were just as surprised it was a coincidence as the readers.
If you want to hear a terrifying story of domestic violence, revenge, and emotional connections, look no further. This story has it all. It is a first-person narrative of a sarcastic woman who was just doing the best she could for her abused family.
The story is told entirely in dialog, as the only words in the story are the words actually spoken by the title character. The narrator does an excellent job of "being" Dolores Claiborne. Her inflections and emotions are just about perfect, and I could really believe I was listening to Ms. Claiborne tell her story. She is a crackup, a sarcastic, no-sugar-coating old lady, but when she has to tell the hard parts of the story, she does that well too. I wish Dolores Claiborne could be my grandma or something.
The fact that only Dolores's narration is the entire story is both a strength and a weakness. It's a strength for the reason I discussed earlier, that I felt like I was sitting in that room with her, listening to her tell her story. On the other hand, the story is over 9 hours long. No one sits in a room telling her story for 9 hours, especially not an elderly woman. This subtracted from the believability of the setting, but not the story itself.
Other reviewers have said that this story is not Stephen King's normal story. It's true, and this brings me to the other weakness. While Stephen King did something really out of the ordinary (for him anyway) here, he tried unsuccessfully to make it a supernatural thriller. It wasn't. I won't give anything away, but suffice it to say that it was such a disturbing story in itself that it didn't need anything additional.
Today, there are many murder mystery books, and most of them are the same. The answer to most of them is the character that a reader realizes he should have suspected all along. They all have a killer with a somewhat unique MO and a moderately surprising twist at the end.
Mister X is not much different than the rest of these books. Yes, the killer was slightly unique, and yes, the private investigator team was well-written. But this is basically "just another murder mystery".
I'll start off by saying that this book is fantastic. In the extremely well-worded first-person narration, the reader gets an incredibly deep portrait of the protagonist, in his strengths and weaknesses. The protagonist opens the story by disclaiming that he is not entirely telling the truth because his memory is, as humanly expected, distorted. The reader is then led on a twisting road of amazingly written new developments. With each turn, the reader is never sure whether what he has learned is actually of importance, and this is what makes the story captivating.
The story follows two mysteries that seem to be related to one another. In 1984, the narrator's two childhood friends disappeared in the woods around their Ireland homes. Today, a twelve-year-old girl has been murdered in the same small town, and the narrator is the investigator on the case. ((**SPOILER ALERT** The modern mystery is wrapped up very nicely, and the answer is deeply disturbing. It keeps a reader traumatized for days.))
However, the title "In the Woods", as well as the hours upon hours and pages upon pages of suspenseful buildup, make the reader wonder exactly what happened in the woods all those years ago. ((**SPOILER ALERT** The ending is incredibly disappointing--although equally poetic--in that it is never revealed. Until the very last paragraph, it seems as though one might find the answer. And then the story ends, and nothing is known.))
Overall, I would recommend this book. Just know that by the ending, you will find yourself wanting more where there is none.
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