Friday, November 16, 2012

Book review: The Talisman

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

On a brisk autumn day, a twelve-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America--and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written,The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother's life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest begin...

My dad has been telling me to read this book for as long as I can remember. My dad doesn't read a lot, so when he recommends a book, you know it's going to be good.

I resisted, with the same answer every time: I don't want to read a scary book.

My dad insisted it wasn't scary and I ignored him until I stumbled upon this audiobook at the library.

He was right: it isn't scary. So don't let the typical Stephen King scariness hold you back.

The Talisman is a typical epic journey -- Jack has a quest to find the Talisman, a mystical object in another (dangerous, confusing) dimension, though he doesn't know what it is or exactly where, other than that it's in a hotel on the east coast. He's not even really sure what it will do.

But he has great motivation: he's been told it will save his mother's life.

Jack's journey also helps him connect with his father, who died five-ish years before the start of the book and who could also flip into the other dimension.

But his journey is dangerous, and there are a lot of people out to get Jack.

I liked this book. A lot. I gave it four stars on Goodreads.

I believed Jack as a character, mostly, and believed his motivation to save his mom and understand his father was enough to get him through all the stuff he has to go through -- which is a lot. A lot.

I liked the characters a lot, especially one named Wolf. Wolf is a human/werewolf and has the loyalty of your favorite puppy. He's sweet and innocent and fierce. I loved Wolf.

But all the characters are unique and believable. There's nothing in this book that's like anything I've ever read.

And you find yourself pulling for Jack, and Wolf, and the other "good guys." Which is a sign of a great book -- when you want the characters to succeed.

King and Straub also created such a cool other world. The Territories, the other dimension Jack can visit, is so different from America. The people are different, the creatures are different. There are even regions to the Territories. The Blasted Lands, which come near the end of the book, were especially fascinating.

One quick warning: though the book isn't scary, per se, there is a lot of graphic stuff. Violence, for one, but also detailed descriptions of the violence. And a weird fixation on genitals, which are described often as part of character descriptions. Weird.

But none of that really ever made me want to stop -- and this was a long book. Twenty four full discs. I wished a little bit that I wasn't listening to it sometimes because it would be easier to skip the graphic parts, but I also loved the narrator and the way he read the characters, so we'll call it even.

Have any of you read The Talisman? It's definitely not my "normal" book (if I even have a normal anymore) but I loved it. What did you think?

1 comment:

Cassy said...

I also have been avoiding this one, but only because it's co-written. I LOVE Stephen King! His best known work is scary, for sure, but most of his stuff really isn't. Try one of his short story collections. He is truly one of the best writers of our time, in my opinion.

Thanks for the review! Your blog has seriously, seriously expanded my reading list :)


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