- Publisher: New Amer Library; Box edition (Sept. 1 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451935659
- ISBN-13: 978-0451935656
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 7 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 386 g
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,687,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Desperation/Regulators Paperback – Sep 1 1997
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A notice to those who feel that Stephen King has lost his magic touch: Desperation is the genuine goods. The ensemble cast of ordinary Americans thrown together by chance, including a disgruntled alcoholic writer and a child who is wise beyond his years, may be a bit too familiar. But the nearly deserted Nevada mining town with an enormous haunted mine pit and an abandoned movie theater where the survivors hang out makes for a striking battleground, and the grisly action rarely flags. Best of all, though, are the characters of "Tak," the ancient, body-hopping evil who emerges from the mine, and of "God"--whom the New York Times describes as "the edgiest creation in Desperation. Remote, isolated, ironic, shrouded behind disguises, perhaps 'another legendary shadow,' this deity forms a sly foil, and an icy mirror, to Tak."
In The Regulators, an evil creature called "Tak" uses the imagination of an autistic boy to shift a residential street in small-town Ohio into a world so bizarre and brutal that only a child could think it up. It's as two-dimensional and gaudy as a kid's comic book, but for this reviewer, The Regulators is a gripping adventure tale about what happens when a mind fixated on TV (especially old Westerns and a cartoon called MotoKops 2200) runs amok. As Michael Collins writes in Necrofile, "[Stephen] King offers his readers a glimpse of the true evil of popular culture ... which has no design or intent, only an empty need to sustain itself. King is, I think, about the canniest observer of what America is, and that he generally writes horror ought to give us pause from time to time." --Fiona Webster
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In Desperation, the humans are trapped in a small western mining town in Nevada where Tak has taken over and killed off most of the town's residents. Tak has apparently selected a random group of humans to keep alive to be used for it's own purposes, but it is unaware of the fact that one of these humans, a young boy, has a connection to a higher power than itself (i.e. God) which is intent on thwarting it's plans. In the story, King attempts to wrestle with serious theological questions, particularly with the problem of evil and suffering. While not overly profound, the book does have some moral and spiritual depth to it and is surprisingly Christian friendly.
In the Regulators, the creature Tak takes over the mind of a young autistic boy, and then uses images in his mind, gleaned from old western movies and Saturday morning cartoons to terrorize and demolish a suburban Ohio neighborhood. While The Regulators could be seen as a commentary on the effects of popular media and television, there really isn't the same kind of pointed moral and spiritual questioning that is found in Desperation. It's just an entertaining story.
Though I think Desperation is the better of the two books, I enjoyed them both, and found them both to be gripping reads. King really is a good story teller with some interesting ideas, and is also good at creating a sense of place and mood. He is also good at creating interesting, realistic, sympathetic characters. Both stories are pretty violent, especially The Regulators, and some readers may be put off by a fair amount of bad, sometimes sacreligious language and crude subject matter. The stories are still interesting and enjoyable though, and Desperation especially carries a sense of moral weightiness that, for me, helps to define good writing. If you read one and enjoy it, you'll probably want to read the other one as well to see how the different characters fair in both stories.
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