Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars

Stephen King - Full Dark, No Stars
Full Dark, No Stars
As my anticipation to King’s return to his Dark Tower series reaches fever pitch, I couldn’t resist reading another of his books before hand. Many regard Stephen King’s short stories as his strongest work. Whilst I agree that he ends his short stories a lot better than his main novels (pun intended), I do not find the quality of them to be any better or worse across the board. However, one of my favourite stories by King is the Mist which is a novella. As “Full Dark, No stars”, compromises of 4 novellas, I was expecting good things.
The first novel is entitled "1921" and tells of how a disgruntled husband involves his son in dealing with the wife he no longer loves. The story deals with the darker side of human nature and the length people will go to. The husband and his son perform some pretty horrific deeds but the excellent thing about the story is that at all points, the audience feel sorry for the narrator and can see the reasoning behind their actions.
Even the supporting cast are well realised and their motivations are all logical. I found this story fascinating. It really conjures up a “what would happen if...” type of scenario. 
The second story called “Big Driver” is a good old fashioned hack and slash thriller. So often you see this in film format but not in a book i.e. in this instance a girl breaks down and then comes across just a plain bad man. The violence in this is quite graphic but King does a good job of portraying how the victim comes to terms with what has happened to her and how it leaves her slightly crazy. There is a nice twist to make this more than just your evil villain tale.
"A Fair Extension" is the shortest story in the collection. It is actually eerily similar in premise to a short story I have written. Of course, King pulls it off so much better. It centres around a dying man being offered the chance to save his life if he is willing to accept certain repercussions. What I liked most about this story is the way the man behaves following his decision is not what you would expect.
"A good marriage" is the last novel and definitely my favourite. The story is about a wife discovering a horrific truth about the man she thought she had a perfect relationship with and how she deals with it. Needless to say, it is not as straightforward as that but the psychology of the story is handled well. I wasn’t enamoured with the ending (thought it should have concluded about 8 pages earlier) but still very good.
Overall this is a very strong collection of stories. All of the stories are well above average and although some readers might find the content too dark, I personally loved it.
My rating: 8.8