Desperation

Narrated by: Stephen King
Length: 21 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4,416 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"The terror is relentless" (Publishers Weekly) in Stephen King's number-one national best seller about a little mining town, Desperation, that many will enter on their way to somewhere else. But getting out is not easy as it would seem....

Located off a desolate stretch of Interstate 50, Desperation, Nevada, has few connections with the rest of the world. It is a place, though, where the seams between worlds are thin. And it is a place where several travelers are abducted by Collie Entragian, the maniacal police officer of Desperation. Entragian uses various ploys for the abductions, from an arrest for drug possession to "rescuing" a family from a nonexistent gunman. There's something very wrong here, all right, and Entragian is only the surface of it.

The secrets embedded in Desperation's landscape and the evil that infects the town like some viral hot zone are both awesome and terrifying. But as one of the travelers, young David Carver, seems to know - though it scares him nearly to death to realize it - so are the forces summoned to combat them.

©1996 Stephen King. All rights reserved. (P)1996 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Stephen King's knack for turning the stray junk of pop culture into sick, darkly engrossing thrills has rarely been this much in evidence as in Desperation." ( Salon)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Multifaceted and multidimensional.

Stephen King's characters and plot devices serve to do more than speak and move the action forward, they also function as constant and profound reflections on the big (and somewhat smaller) questions that thoughtful people ponder their whole lives. Desperation seems to have at its heart a question: if we force ourselves to reconcile the teachings of western religious traditions with reality, we are left with a god that is fundamentally what? Cruel or kind? The novel doesn't bash you over the head with this question, and you can enjoy it without even considering that subtext, but it's there. The characters in Desperation are each fully realized and typically (for King) at least somewhat archetypal, the situations concocted to both tell a good story and to play around with fundamental ontological questions. In other words, King has a bunch of people who try to continue to be people when confronted by and plunged deeply into the center of a battle raging between good and evil that they don't comprehend. It is a full emotional ride; exhilarating, exhausting, funny, sad, poignant, heartfelt, heroic and heinous. It is grim and gruesome and hopeful and hilarious. It has you fully participating in the action and looking backwards and forwards to try to connect the dots. It is an immensely satisfying experience emotionally and intellectually.

A quick note about King's performance: others have said that King is a bad reader, but I disagree. He's clearly no actor, but his unidimensional delivery allows the characters to develop in interesting ways in the mind of the listener. In a lot of ways, him reading it is akin to how you might hear it in your head, and I really liked his delivery for that reason.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Kings best

he should stick with writing, narration wasn't great, story was poorly written in my opinion. I love all his other novels

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Once again unabridged

I love unabridged books, and I am so glad Desperation is an unabridged option. I like this story better than The Regulators. I actually like to hear Steven King tell his own stories. He is not a professional reader, but his books "sound like him". Please don't ask me to explain, some of you may actually understand anyway. He is one of the original "kill off the good guy" writers, and that keeps me interested.

65 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Pass on this one

I am a huge fan of Mr. King, but I did not like this book and had to force myself to keep listening. Not his usual but also his usual. I can't explain it...maybe the praying and God stuff which I do not expect out of him. It just seemed like a forced story. It was a decent book, just not a good one. If you need a good book of his try Duma Key, Dr. Sleep or Mr. Mercedes.

13 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It was ok.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was scary and suspenseful in parts. Other times it dragged. Not my favorite. I wish King would write his female characters as more complex. I feel like he writes women as hysterical, or just sexy & flirty, crazy or cruel, etc - but they're always very flat. They're never complex and they always need to be saved. Meh.

Would you ever listen to anything by Stephen King again?

For sure.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, it would be easier to follow.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Started strong then just faded.

first half of this book was some of the best stuff I've ever read from Stephen King. then something happened. all kinds of details that perhaps clouded the message being given but I truly struggled finished reading this book. one of my least favorites but I'm a Stephen King fan through thick and thin. This is definitely the thin

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Awful narration.

I don’t know if this book is any good because I couldn’t get through it. SK’s narration was so poor that it became a distraction to the story itself. Don’t get me wrong-SK is an amazing writer. Just not an amazing narrative storyteller.

12 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Couldn't stay with this one.

Would you try another book from Stephen King and/or Stephen King?

Not sure what happened here. This one got off to an ok start, then came off the rails bit by bit.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

not my favorite King book

This book lacks the character dynamics I have come to expect from Mr. King. With the exception of the jaded writer riding the coattails of his own success and critical acclaim into a spiraling descent of pompass self absorbtion and debauchery (some self rebuke there?), the characters are fairly wooden. This may be due to the attempt to have such a large group of protagonists with only one, the anti-hero writer, having and complexity or elaborated flaws.
The story arc is pretty predictable as well and, when combined with the narrow stage of an empty town, feels tedious and linear.
If you are enough of a fan you will probably still enjoy this but under no circumstances should this be your first King read!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Crashed and burned halfway through

This made me sad. I was loving it, and then it took a left turn and became a David and Goliath story. Did I miss something? Is Stephen King a religious zealot? Just left me wondering "WTF?" I was glad when it was finally over and I could move on with my life. On the plus side, it was fun listening to King read his own work.

14 people found this helpful