Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Mist (Stephen King)

The Mist by Stephen King
Ok, so let's hit up a horror legend this week, the indomitable Stephen King. I've read many of his books (and I'm very candid about having not loved all of them, re:It) and I've seen most of the movies/TV mini series. Most of his ideas are fantastic, it's usually his execution that I find lacking, especially in his newer works.

But The Mist is a novella, originally released in 1980 in a horror anthology (Skeleton Crew if you're wondering which one.) that was adapted into a movie in the 90's starring about half the original cast of The Walking Dead (I'm honestly not even exaggerating on that, watch it again.) and then again as a short lived TV series last year. (The movie was ok, and held pretty true to the book; the TV show was amazing but was only like the book in the basic premise.)

I finally got the chance to read The Mist which has always been a favorite idea of mine. What if this storm is the one that changes it all? Is it our fault, for testing with genetics and chemicals? Is it God's wrath, finally falling upon the Earth? Is it some extra terrestrial life finding its way here?


The tension in the book is incredible. If you've seen the movie, then you know the gist: a terrible storm rolls into a Maine town (of course it does) and the next day is followed by a bizarrely thick line of fog. The fog envelopes the town, trapping a man with his son at the local grocery store with other locals; then someone runs in off the street screaming that something in the mist ate his friend.

Something in the mist ate his friend. Because, of course it did.

(one day an alien race is going to read all of Stephen King's books and wonder why the fuck people didn't just move out of Maine for all the nutso shit that goes down in his world.)

The entire book takes place over the course of a few days, almost all of it in the grocery store with a mod podge of local color: a drunk, a school teacher, the strict grocery store manager, etcetera etcetera etcetera. Oh, and there's the local kook, known to think she's a witch and who's currently raving about God's wrath finally being brought upon us. YOU MUST REPENT!

The big question becomes: should they stay in the grocery store as long as they can, eating the supplies they are lucky enough to be stuck with? Or should they try to make a run for it and hope they don't get eaten by what can only be described as post-apocalyptic style animal monsters running around in the Mist outside? Can they outlast the Mist? Are they willing to gamble?

Honestly, this is a great example of King at his best: the concept is simple but utterly terrifying, the tension begins quickly and only gets higher as the book goes along, and unlike some of his massive tomes he's known for writing, this one doesn't get slowed down by excessive character development or weird side plots or intense descriptions of the scenery. (re:It)

If you know someone looking for a good intro to the world of Stephen King, may I suggest The Mist? It is so much more than I expected, and is a fairly quick read since it is a normal length and also interesting.

The final breakdown:
The Book
It's nothing special in the grand scheme of things, but I genuinely believe this is a stellar example if King's work.

The Writing
The novella style seems to really restrain my least favorite parts of King's writing style, which is refreshing with such unique content for when it came out.

Dude, just read it. It's a novella for Christ's sake. A fun study in the breakdown of a microsociety over the course of a few days under duress. I fucking love that.

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