Review: Thinner by Stephen King

I’m reviewing this book as part of the 2016 Book Riot Reader Challenge – #1 Read a Horror Story.

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I’m really not sure how Stephen King does it. Thinner is about a man who is cursed by a gypsy and has to find out how to get the curse lifted before he dies. That’s the entire plot of the book. There are a few little asides and a couple of other characters but essentially, that’s it. Just a man trying to find another man. So how did the story keep me gripped until the end?

I think this is why King is known as the master of suspense (or at least he should be – I may have made that title up).

Unusually for a Stephen King book (particularly a horror), there was a great ending that I didn’t see coming. Yes, there’s the obligatory supernatural thing-at-the-end-that-could-kill-everyone but in this case it’s creepy and weird, not all out terrifying. Personally, I think that this is where King really excels – finding an ordinary situation and making it just a little bit off kilter (like the terrifying cat in Pet Cemetery, which confirmed my lifelong mistrust of felines). I usually find that when he goes for all out terror (i.e. the ridiculous ending of IT) he falls short of the mark. Luckily, creepiness reigns in this story.

On the downside, I often find Stephen King books a little formulaic and unfortunately this novel was no exception. I think the very straightforward storyline makes the book compelling, but ultimately unsatisfying. You basically know after the first couple of chapters where the story is going and although the journey is good, there’s no surprises or interesting detours.

Also, I found the descriptions of female characters a little…uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s the age of the novel but it would be nice to have a well developed female role, not just token women who only get described in terms of their looks/anatomies/effect on the main character’s penis.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book but I don’t think it’s one of King’s best. The story was too predictable and the main character (as usual) wasn’t entirely likeable, which made me a little bit apathetic with regards to the outcome of his quest. This book would make an easy beach read (although if there’s a local carnival you may want to steer clear) but it’s not something I would recommend to friends.

Overall rating – 7/10.

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