The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This review has been a LONG time coming. The book was really hard to peg correctly. On one hand, it reads like an American Western … on the other hand, it makes a REALLY bad Western. On one hand it reads like an epic fantasy … a really BAD epic fantasy. On one hand it is a post-apocalyptic story … one that remains mysterious and unexplained. There are also some minor elements from Mr. Kings side of the tracks (horror) … and of course, I have seen better from him on that score as well (and I am not exactly a King fan). You get the picture. What it does is set up the world in which the remaining novels are set … and it presents enough of an interesting story to draw you into the sequels, which are reportedly a little better.
The book comes across more like a series of short stories (which count against it in my book as I don’t typically like short stories). Not surprisingly, I discovered after the fact that was actually what it was originally published as (so the feel bleeds through). Basically we follow the gunslinger who pursues the man in black through a wasted land. Along the way, we have several different encounters that fill-in a little more about what the world was like in the past and why the man in black is the bad guy (although I believe more needs to be said as even in the end, I couldn’t be sure who really was the bad guy … so harsh was the world from which the gunslinger comes). Finally at the end, we have what appears to be some resolution between the two antagonists, but the outcome doesn’t really make any sense and leaves the ending more undefined then anything else.
I will give the next story a try … but if they story doesn’t improve from here, I am done with the series.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.