Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, by Stephen King

I really hate Stephen King. By my count, I've read, I think, 5 of his books (The Shining, Insomnia, The Green Mile, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and Everything's Eventual). With the sort of exception of The Shining, I hated them all. I think he's a sloppy writer, not that creative, really tacky, and obnoxiously liberal and heavy handed.

So why read another one? Curiosity, mostly. The Dark Tower series was almost going to be made into a movie or or movie series or TV series or something like that, and didn't happen, and then might happen again, and everyone talked about how unfilmable the series apparently is. So what was the big deal?

In short, the big deal is not remotely a big deal, at least as far as the first book is concerned. It's set in a desert and would only have two sets: an old west town and a cave. But let's back up.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger is about a cowboy guy who befriends a young boy and has a 300-page flashback in which nothing happens, and over the entire book tries to track down a bad guy wizard person. He finds the bad guy wizard person, who tells him that there are multiple dimensions. The young boy is from New York on Earth. The Gunslinger is from some other Earth-like planet. In the end, will The Gunslinger stick with the young boy or will he allow him to fall off a train track in a cave when he probably could have saved him without much effort? 

Spoiler: He allows him to fall off the tracks, making you wonder what the point of having the boy be in the story was in the first place, and why him falling into the cave was apparently a pre-requisite to meet with the bad wizard guy. 

The budget of this movie would be about $500, most of which would be used on CGI to make a raven be able to talk like a parrot. There are also some 'mutant' cave people that glow in the dark, so you'd need to get some glow sticks for them.  

Is this a good story with good characters? Good story, not remotely. Good characters? The Gunslinger guy (who has a name - maybe something like Ronald Chastain or something like that?) is fine, but 99% of his personality is in his thoughts, so it would be tough to translate that to TV/Movies without a lot of voice-over, probably. The bad wizard guy - eh, not really. The ending is just a set-up for the rest of the series, and I think that sucks. Stories should be able to stand on their own. 

In the end, I give The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 1 gun out of 7. If you find yourself craving a supernatural western, I would instead recommend reading Shane and War of the Worlds simultaneously - it will make more sense than this.