Misery by Stephen King
First and foremost I should say that I have read Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ before; years ago, in fact, as I recall reading it whilst still in secondary school and writing an analysis of the use of language in the book for homework. I’d seen the film long before I read the book – what a film. Seriously, seeing a film like that how could I NOT want to read the book. I’ve reread a few books this year – including the Lord of the Rings trilogy – as I reread so so many books when I was younger, when I hit my late teens I was almost loathe to reread anything. But this reread was a fantastic revisit to a brilliant novel. I decided to read it on a whim after catching the end of ‘The Green Mile’ on tv and having a sudden craving for Stephen King.
Paul Sheldon, writer of the popular bestselling ‘Misery’ books is eager to leave the series behind him in order to do some ‘serious writing’. Having just finished his latest novel ‘Fast Cars’ in his hotel retreat in the mountains, he decides to drive home despite having drank a large amount of champagne and unaware of the approaching storm. As the snowfall worsens, he loses control of his car and crashes. He is rudely brought back to life by a stranger breathing life back into his lungs with her foul breath and later wakes to find himself in the home of his ‘Number One Fan’, Annie Wilkes, who has read all of his Misery books more than once. Paul quickly realises that Annie is a nutter.
This book is the epitome of a psychological thriller; even as someone who has read this before, this novel is so impeccably well written that you feel physically tense when reading it at times. The use of language is fantastic; Paul becomes addicted to the painkilling medication he is being given and after a sudden outburst of rage from Annie, she splatters his soup up the wall. Instead of giving him his medication on time, Paul is forced to watch her clean the wall; there is a paragraph lacking in any punctuation that simply lists each activity she is undertaking in cleaning the wall; this clever use of no punctuation perfectly reflects Paul’s need for the drugs and the stress he is feeling for being denied them. King is hardly one of the best writers I have encountered – his plot-lines are fantastic but I’ve always found his writing style a little… weak at times. Misery is an obvious exception. Would highly recommend. I imagine I will continue to reread this book throughout my life; it is a wonderfully tense and surprising novel that will have you gasping for breath, emulating Paul’s emotions and on the edge of your seat.