Book review: Dreamcatcher

DreamcatcherDreamcatcher by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Going in, I knew a few things about this novel:

– a lot of it took place in or around snowy woods
– they made a big budget movie of it
– something something shit weasels
– it is regarded as perhaps not Stephen King’s finest hour

Having now read the book I can confirm all four of the above are accurate. That said, lesser King is never truly awful and the ending of Dreamcatcher is still a lot better than It or a half dozen of his other novels.

If you’ve never read the book, imagine Alien taking place on Earth but with way more farting. We’re talking apocalyptic levels of farting here, all in the name (and really ripe stench) of otherworldly being proliferation.

Four high school buddies, along with one of King’s favorite archetypes, the magical mentally challenged man, form a kind of psychic bond and then find themselves in the middle of what turns out to be a clumsy alien invasion. They puzzle and struggle and flee and fight as the military moves in to seal off an area of Maine known as the Jefferson Tract. Said military is led by a man named Kurtz. Here King eats his cake and has it, too, directly drawing comparisons to Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, playing the “Is he crazy or just acting crazy?” card before making it clear that this Kurtz is pretty much like the other one.

This was the first book King wrote after being hit and nearly killed by a van in 1999 and he transposes the physical anguish of his injuries and subsequent recovery onto one of the main characters here. As an application of writing what you know, the pain and suffering is understandably authentic. The characters are vivid and colorful, as one expects in a King novel, but the story suffers from horror elements that are more cartoonish than chilling (the aforementioned shit weasels, alien thingies that explode from people’s butts after a gestation period, preceded by bouts of extreme flatulence) and science fiction aspects that teeter on the line between deliberately hokey and plausible. It’s an odd combination that is carried along primarily by King’s strengths with character.

I would probably say this one is a safe pass for people not set on being King completists. It’s not outright bad but is brought down by the uneven tone and sillier elements. If you want to read King, there are a lot of other books of his to recommend over Dreamcatcher.

View all my reviews

Leave a Comment