Old Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Title: The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower Part I
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 224
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Owned Print
Originally Read: 2.23.10

Rating: D

Review: This book will not find it’s way into my favorites list. It is not a long volume, yet it took entirely too many days for me to finish it. Mostly because I wasn’t motivated to pick it up again. Considering it is the first in a series that King himself calls his magnum opus (“great work”), it was…disappointing.

I’m not one for books steeped in secretive symbolism, at least not when it is hardly understandable. Upon reading the Afterword by King, it became clear why the book felt so choppy. He wrote it in pieces over a period of years. It’s almost as if each chapter (of which there are five very long ones) were a short story. And it reads that way. As if he had to gather himself up to write the next portion long after the previous had been written and wasn’t it the same frame of mind, had to go back and re-read his own work to find where he had left off and get emotionally back to that place.

Additionally, I simply struggled with the writing. It seemed an attempt at being deep and symbolic, but felt as though it had been worked at. Good symbolism flows easily and doesn’t feel so choked out, so obvious. And it seems it would make sense. In my mind, his attempts failed. Whatever symbolism he was reaching for was completely lost on me. And a book that makes me feel lost, as if there is a joke I’m simply not in on, well, that’s one that is very hard for me to enjoy.

Still, I was committed to finishing it because the rest of the series is supposed to be quite wonderful and you can’t not finish the beginning of a series if you want to move on. After a few days break, I picked it back up again and finished it. At the tail end of it, I found myself a little more invested than I had realized. Though I was not sad that the book was over (and that does happen when I really love a book), I was invested in finding out how the whole story ends. Or at least to reading the next in the series to see if my intrigue would continue.

What I wasn’t expecting, though I suppose I should have, is the religious underpinnings that surface near the end. The book is clearly about a journey of discovery, good vs. evil Yet, I didn’t expect God to play a large part. In the final pages, it becomes clear that is where the author is taking us, and though I’m generally repelled by religious undertones, I’m curious about the mystical side of the story and want to see where the series leads me. What is in that Dark Tower?

Would I recommend it? I can’t really say because I don’t yet know how I feel about the rest of the books. If it turns out that I love those, then it goes without saying that I would first have to recommend the beginning of the overall story. For now, I reserve my final opinion. 🙂

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