Book Review : Pet Sematary by Stephen King
When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard.
A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself…
A Sneak Peek Into The Story :
Looking back on it, Louis would think –– when he could bear to think about it at all –– that the nightmare really began when they brought the dying boy, Victor Pascow, into the infirmary around ten that morning. Until then, things were very quiet.
At nine, half an hour after Louis arrived, the two candy-stripers who would be working the nine-to-three shift came in. Louis gave them each a doughnut and a cup of coffee and talking to them for about fifteen minutes, outlining their duties, and what was perhaps more important, what was beyond the scope of their duties. Then Charlton took over. As she led them out of Louis’s office, Louis heard her ask : “Either of you allergic to shit or puke? You’ll see a lot of both here.”
Hearing that, Louis just shook his head as he hid a smile and began filling out the long Blue Cross-Blue Shield forms, which amounted to a complete inventory of drug stock and medical equipment. He was totally engrossed, thinking only marginally that a cup of coffee would go down well, when Masterton screamed form the direction of the foyer waiting room : “Louis! Hey, Louis, get out here! We got a mess!”
The near-panic in Masterton’s voice got Louis going in a hurry. He bolted out of his chair almost as if he had, in some subconscious was, been expecting this. A shriek, as thin and sharp as a shard of broken glass, arose from the direction of Masterton’s shout. It was followed by a sharp slap and Charlton saying, “Stop that or get the hell out of here! Stop it right now!”
Louis burst into the waiting room and was first only conscious of the blood –– there was a lot of blood. One of the candy-stripper was sobbing. The other, pale as cream, had put her fisted hands to the corners of her mouth, pulling her lips into a big revolted grin. Masterton was kneeling down, trying to hold the head of the boy sprawled on the floor. Steve looked up at Louis, eyes grim and wide and frightened.
“The old have their tricks, Louis thought. Small ones, but some of them are good ones.”
“Hard stretcher, Doctor?” Chariton asked.
“If we need it, get it,” Louis said, squatting beside Masterton. “I haven’t even had a chance to look at him.”
Louis bent over his first patient at the University of Maine at Orono. He was a young man, age approximately twenty, and it took Louis less than three seconds to make the only diagnosis that mattered : The young man was going to die.
Half of his head was crushed. His neck had been broken, one collarbone jutted from his swelled and twisted right shoulder. From his head, blood and a yellow, puss fluid seeped sluggishly into the carpet. Louis could see the man’s brain, whitish-gray and pulsing through a shattered section of his skull. It was like looking through a broken window. The incursion was perhaps five centimeters wide; if he had had a baby in his skull, he could almost have birthed it. That he was still alive at all was incredible. In his mind, Louis suddenly had Jud Crandall saying : sometimes you could feel it bite your ass. And his mother : dead is dead.
“Dead is dead—what else do you need?”
Incredibly, the dying man was moving. His eyes fluttered and opened. Blue eyes, the irises ringed with blood. They stared vacantly around, seeing nothing. He tried to move his head, and Louis exerted pressure to keep him from doing so, mindful of the broken neck. The cranial trauma did not preclude the possibility of pain.
The hole in his head, oh Christ, the hole in his head.
The dying man was making a gurgling sound in his throat. He tried to speak.
Louis heard syllables –– phonetics, at least –– but the words themselves were slurred and unclear. He leaned in over the boy and said, “You’re going to be all right, fella.” He thought of Rachel and Ellie as he said it, and his stomach gave a great, unlovely lurch. He put a hand over his mouth and stifled a burp.
“You could go to school for twenty years and you still couldn’t do a thing when they brought a guy in who had been rammed into a tree hard enough to open a window in his skull.”
“Caaa,” the young man said. “Gaaa––”
Louis looked around and saw that he was momentarily alone with the dying man.
“In the Pet Sematary,” the young man croaked… and he began to grin, a mirthless, hysterical grin.
“What did you say?” Louis whispered.
And this time, as clear as the words of a speaking parrot or a crow whose tongue has been split, the words were unmistakable : “It’s not the real cemetery.” The eyes were vacant, not-seeing, rimmed with blood: the mouth grinning the large grin of a dead carp.
Fighting the urge to run with everything in him, he forced himself to lean even closer. “What did you say?” he asked a second time. The grin. That was bad.
“The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis,” the dying man whispered. “A man grows what he can and tends it.”
Louis, he thought, hearing nothing with his conscious mind after his own name. “Who are you?” Louis asked in a trembling voice. “Who are you?”
“Injun bring my fish.”
“How did you know my—”
“Keep clear, us. Know— Caa,” the young man said, and now Louis fancied he could smell death on his breath, internal injuries, lost rhythm, failure, rein.
The young man in the red gym shorts began to shudder all over. Suddenly he seemed to freeze with every muscle locked. His eyes lost their vacant expression momentarily and seemed to find Louis’s eyes. Then everything let go at once. There was a bad stink. Louis thought he would, must speak again. Then the eyes resumed their vacant expression. . . and began to glaze. The man was dead.
“Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”
3 Words to Sum Up This Book :
Lengthy, Original, Anticlimactic
Seeing how many readers raved and gushed about how amazingly freakish and how cripplingly terrified that this book made them, I think I must go against the grain here and say : I can’t relate.
It could be all the hype that’s surrounding this book, being that it’s said to be King’s most disturbing book to date. Which in turn pushed my expectations higher than it should have been. Or it could be that I am just dead inside since I feel none of the things that I was “supposed” to feel while reading this book.
I must agree, when it comes to writing, Stephen King knows how to write. It’s not like he was pulling poetry line after poetry line like John Green, mind you. But there is something about his writing that pulls you in every single time. Be it when he was building up to a climax, or even if it is just him writing and describing about the everyday goings of the life of his characters, there is something about his writing that continuously makes me want to read more.
“Cats were the gangsters of the animal world, living outside the law and often dying there.”
This. This is something that maybe my opinion will differ from a lot of other readers or fans of King’s. I find his world building very slow. By slow I mean, very, very slow. At first he tries to wine and dine the readers, getting our feet wet with the characters, getting to know them, what makes them tick, what makes them do the things they do. You know, the basics. And I’m totally okay with that, because as much as I’m in this mainly for the scare factor, I still want to know about the characters that I will be spending the next 200 pages with. You know what I mean?
“Maybe, when you got right down to the place where the cheese binds, there was no such thing as marriage, no such thing as union, that each soul stood alone and ultimately defied rationality.”
But then, King just keeps doing this. This suspension of dread. It was as if the scale was about to tip, and I was waiting for the scale to tip and for hell to break loose…but it never it. A good chunk of the book was just prolonged dread. And sure, maybe that is what got to people. Maybe that is what got to the readers : the impending doom that something bad is going to happen.
However, for squirrel-attention-spanned-adrenaline-junkie like your girl right here, it didn’t work. I got bored towards the end when nothing terrifying really happened, and started skimming.
To be quite honest with you, I could not give a
shit rat’s ass about the characters. The story was based on this family that consisted of Louis, his wife, his daughter, son, and a cat. You know, a plain, normal, happy family. That is, until King does his dark magic and fuck this family 8 ways to Sunday.
I could not really remember the impact that these characters had on me –– if there were any at all. I didn’t feel anything towards the family, nor did I feel anything towards what they were experiencing at all. Throughout this entire book, it just kind of feels like I’m watching through a fuzzy far away screen and wasn’t able to be emotionally invested in the characters whatsoever.
This, is the one thing that I kept waiting for, that never came.
Whenever I hear people talk about Stephen King’s work, it’s always about how amazing he is at storytelling and world building. How he could build up that tension and make you slowly sweat and sink into bottomless and pitiless fear-hole. So, naturally, you can already tell that your girl is going to have a lot of expectations going in. And I think, one of my mistakes is that I had way too high of an expectation, because guess what?
I’m fucking disappointed.
Like, really disappointed.
“Sometimes God dillies and dallies,” Steve said,
“and sometimes He just points at you and tells you to hang up your jock.”
I kept waiting for things to speed up, and suddenly take a turn for worse, but 75% into the book and still waiting, I know that sudden jump scare isn’t going to happen. I even got so bored that I started skimming just to see if the story got better, apparently, it didn’t.
For me personally, everything about Pet Sematary just kind of drags. I expected so much, only to be disappointed and given so little in return. I mean, plot-wise it was very original, but I just wish it could be executed way better.
The Verdict :
For me personally, I wouldn’t say that I don’t recommend this book; since technically speaking, it is still a really amazing book with a very original and well thought out plot. However, I just don’t like how the story is so dragged out that when I found out about what really happened and the ball started rolling, I just got so bored and done with it all that I just couldn’t find it in me to give two craps about what is going on anymore.
So with that said, if you are more like me : an adrenaline junkie with squirrel like attention span –– maybe this book isn’t for you. But, if you are the type of reader who are more into the slow burn type of book where the dread slowly and continuously creep up on you, then this one might be the perfect book for you.
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