on April 16, 2014
Having seen the movie more than a few times, I thought it was time to finally read the book. I had heard that the novel was scarier than the film, and I was NOT disappointed. The author has said that this is the only book he's written that has ever truly scared him, and within a few chapters, it was obvious why.
While I don't want to give too much away for those who have not seen the film or are unfamiliar with the direction that this chilling tale takes, I will say this: "Pet Sematary" isn't intensely affecting and disturbing only because of its premise (a burial ground that has the power to resurrect the dead), nor the questions posed by the premise (is the person you put in the ground the same person that comes out?). What really makes the novel so simultaneously human and ethereal is the portrayal of the lengths to which characters are willing to go to get back their loved ones - even if the only thing they are really resurrecting is some ancient evil. This novel is at once heartbreaking, suspenseful, terrifying, and at times, even witty. King manages to be both eloquent and crude, a unique mixture that produces a book that, in spite of its fantastical happenings, seems just a touch too believable (making it even eerier).
While the cinematic adaptation of the novel is surely enjoyable, it's a bit campy, and the acting (at times) leaves something to be desired. Some liberties were taken with the ending in the film - the novel leaves more to the imagination and yet manages to be immeasurably scarier. Obviously, the book offers greater insight and background in regards to the characters and their histories. Although the movie was at times creepy, I found the novel to be exponentially more effective at frightening me.
My bottom line? If you like literature that deals with the supernatural, or just feel like having the crap scared out of you, buy this book. Just make sure you've got some cocoa and a big, comforting blanket to snuggle up with afterwards - you'll need it.
on July 14, 2004
Different people have different ideas about what is "funny" - same with "scary". If snakes or spiders or great-white sharks scare the peedoodle out of you, then your reaction to a story about them might be different than it might be for, say The Crocodile Hunter.
Stephen King is prolific beyond belief. He is sometimes redundant. In Pet Sematary he wrote a story so compelling that I literally could not put it down, yet at the same time so horrifying that I practically screamed at myself NOT TO TURN THE NEXT PAGE!!!!
King knows a thing or two about humans and human relationships, and in Pet Sematary he creates a realistic family that you care about.... then he does absolutely TERRIFYING things to them. Without giving anything away - I have to say that one of the reasons that this book affected me so deeply is that I had recently become a Dad back when this book first was released, and this book hones in on a new parent's worst nightmares, then just gets worse and worse and worse.
If you like being scared by a book, and you can't think of anything worse than seeing your child killed - this book might hit you like it hit me. I repeat: This is the scariest novel I have ever read.
As an aside: The "scariest book ever" was turned into a fairly cheesy movie. I give the book a solid 5 stars, but wouldn't rate the film any higher than 2 or 3. Another aside: My personal choice for "scariest movie" is "The Exorcist", while I found the novel of "The Exorcist" fairly bland and not paced well enough to scare me.
on July 13, 2004
(...)P>Others have commented on the fact that this novel borrows much from The Monkey's Paw. The idea of the Mic Mac burial ground is interesting, particularly the shadowy presence of the Wendigo, but growing up in New England as he did, it's difficult to determine just how much of the concept of Pet Cemetary was inspired, and how much was simply King putting a new coat of paint on an old short story with the obligatory childhood horrors, family mundanities, and heavy-handed foreshadowing thrown in for good measure.
There were some interesting moments and ideas in this book, but few of them were realized, and what little was of interest was buried in 100 to 200 unnecessary pages of foreshadowing (someone's gonna get run over, we GET it!) and the obligatory King tales of childhood suffering. Top it off with a disappointing and (IMO) downright irritating ending (hmmmm, dead cat and kid are evil, let's repeat this mistake shall we?) and this is an annoying snoozer.
Far too much build-up for no payoff.
on July 1, 2004
If you look at the critical acclaim pages of nearly any Stephen King book, you will find that a vast number of sources probably proclaimed the work "Sheer Genius!" "Gripping and Terrifying" and, more often than not, "One of the Scariest Books I'd Ever Read". Ordinarily, I think it fair to say these claims are exaggerations--but not in the case of Pet Sematary.
I've read a good deal of Stephen King's novels (more than half of them), and this one is by far my favorite. It has parts that you wouldn't want to read home alone late at night, but it is far more interesting than just monsters jumping out of shadows...
What made this book so terrifying for me was that it was about human nature, and human reaction to death. The main character in the novel, Louis Creed, unleashes horrors into the world trying to ressurect his dead loved ones...and after the horrors are dealt with, he does it again. Pet Sematary is a deeply emotional book that explores just how far we would be willing to go to cheat death.
If you read just one Stephen King novel, make it this one.
on June 24, 2004
Stephen King, bestselling author of all time (just ask the Guiness Book of World Records), has brought forth another creepy novel. If I could sum up what King is trying to tell his audience, I could do it in few words.
Don't intervene with fate.
Louis Creed's interventions with fate basically screw him over in a major way (more on that later). He's a doctor, so you're thinking, "Great salary." He's got a gorgeous wife and two children, a young girl and a baby boy. And he's decided that Bangor, Maine, definitely beats the city of Chicago, so he and his family move on out into a more rural and placid type environment. The Bangor local is also no problem when it comes to work - he shall take a job working at the medical university (FYI: King now resides in Bangor with his wife, Tabitha, and his children).
When the Creeds first move to Maine, all seems well. Louis meets Jud Crandall, an elderly 80-something gentleman with a heart of gold. Their relationship quickly evolves and the two men become very close. Jud helps Louis grieve when his baby son is hit and killed by a truck on the road by their house.
Enter the "pet sematary" from which the novel's title is derived. A group of children were not educated in the fundamentals of spelling, hence the errors. They buried roadkill and various dead pets over what was once supposedly an Indian burial ground.
Grieving to the brink of insanity, Louis is willing to try and bring his baby boy back to life using the pet "sematary." After all, it worked for the family cat, who ended up roadkill prior to the death of Louis' son. Despite the fact that one of his dead patients keeps appearing to him, telling him not to go through it, Louis is overcome with grief and refuses to listen to him.
A chain of deaths basically occurs. We watch as a doctor, due to loss, gets pushed over the edge and actually does end up losing every bit of sanity he once had. He keeps saying that his dead loved ones won't come back evil - that they cannot come back evil. Bad experiences just don't teach him. He's prone to making the same mistakes again and again all because his sanity is slipping away like sand through his fingers.
See where fate intervention comes in? One death seemed to have lead to the next. If Louis had let his son rest in peace rather than trying to bring him back to life, he would stayed out of a helluva lot of trouble.
King has skillfully woven a horrific masterpiece in which he pulls you from your own normal world and takes you into the world of Lou Creed. No matter how meager a character role, all people are brought to life through excellent characterizational skills as well as dialogue authentically filled with voice and insight. This book is spooky, simply put. By the time you hit the back cover, you will feel like you know Lou Creed.
Highly recommended for psychologists and those who particularly enjoy the world of horror literature.
on May 18, 2004
I'm not a rabid King fan, although I do enjoy the occasional dabble into his worlds. So far I'd have to say that this book leaves everything behind in it's dust.
The story is that of the Creeds, who move to a little town- most likely in Maine, perhaps?- looking for a new beginning. They meet the neighbours, the Crandalls, and get aqqauinted with their home, including a mysterious trail that leads up into the forest, to a mysterious 'Sematary'...
I won't lie to you. The book made me feel bad. I don't usually feel this way after books I enjoyed, which really speaks for the skill involved in writing it.
There are several things that will always stand out in my mind when I recall Pet Sematary.
1)I liked Louis Creed's reactions, his mental comments, etc. They really show how, especially towards the end, his sanity is being sucked down the drain. His constant flashback's to important phrases, such as, "Sometimes dead is better" give a very creepy feeling.
2)The whole storyline concerning Lou's wife's childhood, and
'Oz the Gweat and Tewwible' were the most disturbing,and satisfying, parts of the book.
3) Queen of Spades: "Darling" Need I say more?
I strongly reccomend this book to anyone who doesn't like scary stories, because you need to be cured. You might as well go for the gold.
on May 1, 2004
Looking back on reading Pet Sematary, I am a bit perplexed as to how to write a review for it. Do I praise it for being a masterful achievement in the writing of pure horror, or do I say how it left me feeling depressed and a bit sick? The characters are so well developed, described, and depicted, that the horrors that are unleashed upon them in the second half of the book left me with a feeling of unspeakable dread.
Yes, it is scary. No question about it, and I decided in the end my feelings only reinforced my appreciation for Stephen King as an author, after all, he made the characters so realistic and human - read flawed - that they became like friends. Friends that have just about the worst luck in the world.
But enough about my own personal reservations about the novel. Stephen King is famous because he has a deep understanding of human nature and, more importantly for a horror writer, human fears. This is a very human novel, despite the title referring to animals (By the way, in case you're wondering, it's spelled "PET SEMATARY" instead of "PET CEMETARY" because the cemetary was founded by a group of young children with poor spelling).
The story concerns the Creeds, a family of four, moving into a small town with a dark secret. Dr. Louis Creed, the father of the family, gets a job as a doctor of medicine at the local college, where he recieves a grim message from a dying patient. This event signals the beginning of a gruesome chain of seemingly unrelated accidents which point straight to a certain cemetary. Not the Pet Sematary of the title, but a much more frightening annex with unspeakably evil power.
I cannot remember a King novel as shattering or as disturbing as Pet Sematary. The Shining, which in my own humble opinion is King's best work, was definitely frightening, but came to a relatively tidy conclusion. Pet Sematary ends on the kind of bizarre, twisted "happy" ending which is similar to a doctor saying that you'll be doing just fine after they amputate your arms and legs. The conclusion is nasty, unexpected, and a little unsatisfying.
But once again, these are minor quibbles for such a great, solid novel. If you have read a few King novels already and enjoyed them, I recommend you pick up a copy of this fright fest today!
on April 16, 2004
Every once in a while a book comes along that sets itself apart in its particular genre. Pet Sematary is such a book.
In my estimation what makes this story so frightening is that it touches on two elements. First, it is a very human story. By that I mean it touches on something all of us have can relate to: family, sickness, secrets and death. The relationships are complex and believable. There is something for everyone to point to whether it is father-daughter, father-son, husband-wife or the relationship of friendship between men. These relationships give the reader a connection with the characters and give the story a soul.
The second element combines the spirituality and slow descent into insanity that seem to permeate every corner of this story. This novel deals with larger issues of loss, mourning, fears, human frailty (emotionally), the frailty of life, the afterlife and obsession.
King takes these two elements and weaves them together in a tale that would seem utterly implausable and yet I was engrossed from the first page and I never lost my willing suspension of disbelief. Add to all this the human knowledge that death is supposed to be final and one can't help but be naturally thrown off balance when spirits inhabiting the bodies of the dead once again roam the earth. This is a monumental work of horror that is unlikely to be matched for many years to come, if ever.
on January 22, 2004
I think most have seen the movie like myself and want to make a comparsion of the film and the book. First I'll say that the story differs very little from the movie and it is only "better" because the story is heightened by King's writing style. In other words, the movie was a pretty faithful adaption. There are slight differences with Jud's wife and of course the resurrected fallen soldier Tim. You get a deeper look into the heads of the characters as you can read their thoughts and not seeing them acted out. That is a difficult transition to bring to the film medium. I will now say something a bit hypocritical. King is a good writer and excellant at coming up with creative concepts, but as the story (like many other of King's works) progresses it gets weaker and usually ends poorly (well in my opinion anyway.) This book is a good example of that trend in his books. The concept is interesting and the characters are easy to identify with. The setting sets us at ease and than pulls us away from it, but there is something to be said about where the story goes after the climax. The fact (even with the influence of the burial ground) that Louis returned to the burial ground with his wife is just stupid in my opinion. I think that with the events in the book, I expected growth out of this character with the constant preaching about acceptance of death. Louis seems to be weak willed and I am disappointed to have him as the protagonist as the book concludes. His grief over the death of Gage warrants the decision he makes. It reflects on his ignorance about what the place does. His final return to the burial ground with his wife wasn't ignorance, but downright stupidity. It's like I lost all respect for him. I was disappointed by the ending as a result, but this is still a fun read and I found myself looking around a bit paranoid from time to time.
on January 20, 2004
Odds are if It's a Stephen King 'cliche', be it the dead pet, knowledgable old neighbor, maine town with a dark secret, flashback to childhood trauma, evil lurking in an 'indian burial ground'(tm), then it's here..
and yet, Pet Semetary transcends all the cliches, becoming the sort of picture of all-encompassing darkness that you can find in the best 'Horror' Fiction. It's genre work that transcends the genre--in a lot of places, it reads like 'lit'rature'..one of those stories where the young family starts a new home, in a new town, and learn about themselves and their neighbors...only this being a Stephen King story, the lessons learned are of the boundary between life and death.
In a sense, it's almost too bleak for it's own good---the main characters are good people, and King describes them in ways that let us care about them (right down to the cat, winston churchill, who's first to go)....and for most of the next three-hundred pages, their world methodically comes to pieces.
the light at the end of the tunnel in this one is definitely an oncoming train.
not for the faint of heart......for those who haven't read it, it's a bestseller that deserves the status.