As I read this book, while being reminded how great a writer Stephen King is despite the need by some to call him a hack–though I doubt a hack writer could keep all this straight–I feel like psycho based stories are going to have a hard time thrilling me ever again. And not just because of the way King wrote the book, but this story is still built on the same ideas as past three books and movie I’ve talked about. In the end there no difference between psychological horror and supernatural horror besides the prefix. The personal struggle of the protagonist is embodied into a monster or psycho and it through trying to defeat that creature creates the breakthrough for protagonist. Which means I now can figure out most psycho stories before I finish. I have actually never seen the movie of Misery, just the hobbling scene, so I didn’t know how it would end when I started, but after Paul Sheldon starts working on Misery’s Return, I pretty much had it pegged down how the rest of the story went.
But that’s not King’s fault, that’s just me not able to read faster than I can analyze and a self-ruin the story for myself.
But what make Misery different than those other books and movie?
Characters. With a bit of an exception for The Church of Dead Girls, most of the story is very plot driven, much like a mystery story, and the character development and themes are a subtext to that mystery. There is no mystery here. King doesn’t hide or misdirect the reader any more than the characters naturally would if they were living people. This story is about Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes as a mirror to Paul’s outlook on his writing career. And in that sense I would classify this much more of a true horror story then anything else we’ve read or watched for this class.So many people think of horror as the stuff in the movies: death, monsters, killers, gruesome acts of human depravity. And while those are tools for use horror writers–ones King himself uses liberally in this and many other books–the stereotypes to make fun of or dismiss the genre because too many people have used those tools with no blueprints. Sure, you can build build just about anything without direction, but how many times does work out for the better.As you read Misery, nothing that Annie does to Paul is random or sadistic. If you pay close attention, everything is layout justify those actions. Because of that, they are believable. Because they are believable, they are that more terrifying. And I think that is why so many people like to hate on King. If you just read his work in a superficial way, there are many things that play right into those horror stereotypes. But that’s the craftsmanship of his writing. you don’t see the seems or paint strokes and the more time you spend with it, the more you see just how well constructed his work is.