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1.0 out of 5 starsKing can’t help himself. This book is poopy.
Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2020
King sits high atop his ivory tower, surveys things from his diversity-lacking state of Maine and tells us all, once again, how awful in general white people are, and in particular, our President. King has allowed politics to ruin every single effort of his since 2012 or so. This one is no different. If discrimination is indeed the father of crime, as Jerome wants to say, I’m going to have to turn to the crime of stealing Mr. King’s work, assuming I just have to read it.
If It Bleeds contains four novellas that vary in tone and structure, and each one is well worth reading. A few spoiler-free thoughts:
"Mr. Harrigan's Phone"-King is a master of reflective stories, especially those that begin in childhood. Craig, this story's narrator and protagonist, is immensely likable, and his relationship with Mr. Harrigan, the titular character, is very well-developed.
"The Life of Chuck"-I found this one a little hard to get into, as at first it felt a little too familiar. King has written more than a few takes on cataclysmic events, and while I've mostly enjoyed them, I wasn't sure that this one was going to be one of the best. However, the story soon introduced an interesting mystery, and soon after I realized that this story was not at all what I'd assumed. With an atypical structure and ideas that become more interesting and meaningful with each page, this ended up being my favorite of the four.
"If It Bleeds"-Fans of the Bill Hodges Trilogy and The Outsider will be pleased, as I was, at the return of Holly Gibney. The story has all the elements that made those novels great, and really develops Holly's character along with her investigation. If you haven't read those novels, you might not enjoy it as much, although King made a strong effort to provide context. It also has some spoilers for the previous books, especially The Outsider.
"Rat"-King has done a lot of writing about writing, but that doesn't mean there's nothing left to say. Once again, he takes us inside the mind and experiences of an author, and once again it results in a solid character and an interesting story. I didn't like this one quite as much as the other three, and would have liked to see a little more plot development, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story.
3.0 out of 5 starsHe is starting to just mail them in
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2020
A cell phone, a rat and a legend in his own mind (kind of like the author these days) don’t add up to much worth reading. There is nothing really scary in any of these 3 stories
There are obligatory digs at the president in all 4 stories; I guess he’s just rattling around in the authors head driving him crazy.
There is a good preview of what might be season two of “The Outsider“ in another Holly Gibney story. Unfortunately there is now quite a difference between the written character and the character as portrayed on the HBO series. I prefer the character as portrayed on the TV series although I did enjoy this story which is the only thing which saved the book from a 2 star review.
5.0 out of 5 starsForces In The World That Move Us
Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2020
Stephen King has done it again. This is a great book for our times. During this Covid19 pandemic we need something to take us away, to re-learn to laugh, to have a good time, and to face our demons.
Detective Holly Gibney is my favorite Stephen King characters. She is that rare breed, a totally likable person, who gets into horrific messes. As a King fan, I am not into the sci-fi up yonder dudes.
In Stephen Kings new book, If It Bleeds, we have 4 novellas. A novella is a very short book, or a very long short story. Mr Harrigan’s Phone is a fun theme about the technological field. It tells the story of a boy Craig and Mr John Harrington. Craig did odd jobs for Mr Harrington, and Mr Harrington liked having him around. Craig received lottery cards from Mr Harrington, and won Some cash. In return he gave Mr Harrington an iPhone, and we see the results. The Life of Chuck is written in 3 acts, and tells the story of Chuck in reverse. It is funny at times, and will keep us entertained. Rat is the dark side of the novellas. It centers on a writer, Drew Larson who can’t seem to finish a novel, and then the troubles really begin.The fourth novella Is If It Bleeds. This is my favorite novella, featuring Detective Holly Gibney, and she is tracking down a monster that few believe she can tackle.
Stephen King rarely disappoints, and this book hits the spot for me. It is silly to say he is a great writer because we all agree. His way with words, the characters he conjures in his imagination, the use of novellas to fulfill his needs as a writer gives us the penultimate read.
5.0 out of 5 starsYes, It's Excellent and You Should Buy the New Stephen King Book
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2020
Of course the latest from Stephen King is a home run. If you have come to the review section to see whether some rationally written reviews will affirm your suspicion that this is yet another gripping tale of darkness that you won't be able to put down until your morning alarm goes off, then let this be your affirmation. Buy it. You'll love it. I sure did.
1.0 out of 5 starsDon't waste your money...disappointment for former King fans yet again
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2020
I thought I would give Stephen King one more chance...now I wish I had saved my money and time. Nothing memorable about any of these stories...one dimensional characters and inane plot devices. Nothing interesting or original here. There was no need for them to be novellas; that only happened due to lots of padding and repetition on King's part. They are most definitely not in the same room with scary, eerie or even suspenseful. Shame on his editor for letting him get away with such banal writing, and shame on the "professional" book reviewers who lauded this nonsense and tricked buyers into handing over their hard earned cash. I suspect these are old stories that King started & then shoved in a drawer somewhere...and rightly so...they should have been left there. He clearly tried to change parts of at least 2 or 3 stories to modernize them, and my only enjoyment while slogging through these awful stories, was in identifying those sections that were overlooked when he (or his assistant) attempted to update these stinkers.
Disclaimer- Stephen King is, and has been for 30 plus years remained one of my top three writers, I pre-ordered this as soon as it became available, devoured it in a day and would read the man's shopping list if he published it. So some biais may be in play and no spoilers. If It Bleeds is a collection of four novellas. I'll put it up front, for me, it isn't up there with Different Seasons, but I enjoyed it more than Four Past Midnight - both previous quartets. First and foremost King's writing seems as effortless as always and the comfort from settling down with any new King book is one of life's pleasures for me. Going through the stories briefly - Mr Harrigan's Phone is one of those King tales about a young boy on the cusp of growing up and is as much about him as it is about the hook of the tale. Here that hook is a mobile phone given to an elderly, wealthy and somewhat eccentric man the boy reads to. It's a cross between a Twilight Zone episode and that old song Hello, This is Joanie. It's fun, creepy and, one of those King stories where no explanation or resolution is given for what occurs. The Life of Chuck - the most 'experimental' of the four stories: a life told in reverse. King explains he wrote the three acts as separate vignettes originally and then put them together. It is for the most part a slice of life. A 'straight' fictional narrative about an every man, with a sprinkling of 'strange' over it. I didn't quite get the 'strange', I'll have to admit, and in his afterword King seems to say that he doesn't really expect everyone to. The character descriptions are vintage King - small sketches of multiple players that are fascinating to read. As a bizarre reference the background coda reminded me of an '80s movie The Coca Cola Kid - you're reading/ seeing a straight forward story, then there's something much bigger at play. No spoilers though. If It Bleeds- a sequel to The Outsider and featuring Holly Gibney, a character who featured in both that, and the Bill Hodges story. This is definitely sequel material to the former more than the latter and is the right length: I'm glad it appeared in this format and not a full length novel: it's strong here, as a novel it would have been a bit too similar to its' predecessor. For those who read the Hodges series the cast will be familiar, and it's nice to see the Holly character developed some more: she definitely deserves a novel, and hopefully this is a precursor to it. Lastly, The Rat - and we're in more familiar King territory: a writer retreats to his dead father's cabin to try and write a book. Isolated, with a storm coming in and a cold or something worse coming on. There are similarities between the first and last stories - both a touch of Monkey's Paw/ pact about them. It's probably the case that both could have been written as much shorter stories in terms of the ideas behind them, whereas the middle two really had to be the length they were. It's not a criticism- as I said up top I am happy to read as many words as King wants to write, it's simply that both are ideas that are familiar to King readers (in the first, King's interest in writing about tech as a mcguffin- he's done it with word processessors, e-book readers, tvs, and here a retro view of mobiles, in the second a 'writer' story which is old stomping ground after Misery, Bag of Bones, Secret Window...etc - but hey, if I want anyone to tell me about writing, it's someone who's as masterful at it as King). I didn't think there was any one story that was as stand out as some of King's best novellas such as The Body, Rita Hayworth, The Mist, Apt Pupil or even a Dolan's Cadillac but in times of uncertainty as we have today, it's good to know the quality of King's writing is as dependable as ever.
On paper this collection sounded great. Unfortunely this was not the case. Maybe SK sees something we can't but Holly Gibney has run her course - my fear been we haven't seen the last of her. If It Bleeds is at best a short story but SK stretched it and in my opinion weakened it. The life of Chuck was poor. Period. It made no sense. Mr H's phone, again was poor. Side note: SK needs to work on his endings. Rat was the best of a bad lot, however, in saying that, the idea was there but the execution was poor. Would a publisher publish this if SK didnt write this? I doubt it.
On a seperate note, I think we ( the constant readers) can all agree we're sick of SK's snarky political commentary and personal views seeping into his stories. We get it - you hate Trump. But guess what, voting Trump or anyone else for that matter doesnt entitle you to berate them at every turn. Its been almost four years - get over it. In fact, close your twitter account and put a little effort into your writing!
Four new short stories. All really good stories, my favourites from the collection is If It Bleeds and Life Of Chuck. Without giving too much away Holly Gibney is the star of one of the stories. I'm so glad that Holly was revisited and hope to revisit her again in other stories one day. Not a very long book of stories, about 5 hours give or take but loved every minute it. Another great instalment from Stephen King 😊.
Only read the titular novella so far and it was a worthy sequel to The Outsider. Quite a short read, you can finish it in one go. The story is interesting and like a compact The Outsider, focusing also on Holly's personal life and showing how much she has changed. Some references to her previous appearances with some 'spoilers' but I didn't care. The 'outsider' of this book was definitely worth reading about and it was interesting seeing how another one was identified. You don't discover anything about these 'things' in terms of where they come from and what they really are so don't go in expecting any revelations as such, but here we have a good little story about Holly using her investigative skills to hint down another 'outsider', with a few little twists on the original book to keep it interesting.