Book Review: The Mist (Stephen King)

Publisher: Signet

Pages: 230

Release Date: First published in 1980

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

Review:

This is actually the first Stephen King book I’ve read, which surprises me as he does seem right up my street. I know a lot of his stories, from film adaptations or research I did at university, but this is the first one I’ve actually sat down and read cover to cover.

I wanted to read this book because I love the film adaptation so much. It’s easily one of my favourite horror films, and if you haven’t seen it then I can’t urge you to watch it enough. It’s creepy and gruesome and the ending is one of the most brutal things I’ve ever watched.

I knew to expect differences between the book and the film, and for the most part I was okay with these. I think the one thing that really stood out was the ending which is fairly different and I have to say I preferred the one in the film (though I admit it is rare for a film to do something better than a book, in my opinion). Even Stephen King loved the new ending:

Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead. – from FirstShowing.net

I have to agree with him on that last point and I would never, ever reveal the ending. Safe to say, it is brilliant and horrible and one of the few scenes that has made me want to cry at a film.

I thought the book did a bit too much foreshadowing, which ruined the suspense for me rather than building it. It was a little heavy handed, and I think a subtler approach would have gone down better. It does let you know that something is coming though, and there is a heavy sense of dread throughout the book.

What I love most about this book is that the horror doesn’t simply come from the terrifying creatures that come from the mist. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of that, and it’s brilliant, but the bit I find most horrifying is the way the people turn on each other when trapped inside the supermarket. Mrs Carmody is just as horrifying as the monsters and I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a character more. It reminds me a bit of Lord of the Flies as you see how quickly things can spiral out of control when normal laws don’t apply.

I think this was a good pick for my first Stephen King book. My partner has a fair amount of his work and I think it’s time for me to start moving through them.

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