Dr. Venkman and I decided that Stephen King deserved a two part series. You see the man didn't just write excellent books, but excellent books that transfer really well to the movie screen. Since the kind Dr. took care of the movie part of this series, it is up to me to take care of the book part. There are a few of you thinking: "Why is this a top 7?". Excellent question, I can only give you a list of the books that I have read. Plus, I want your opinion on what his best works are so that we can put a definitive list together. But for now, this is what I think.
7) The Regulators (1996): For those of you who don't know, this was a companion book to Desperation. Some of the characters are the same, there are references to each other in their respective books. Desperation was written by Stephen himself, and The Regulators was written by his alter ego Richard Bachman. The Regulators hit me harder, made me sweat a little more than Desperation did.
The Regulators is about the residents of Poplar St., and what happens to them when four vans filled with gun toting Regulators decide to take the street over. They soon realize that this isn't just a random act of violence, there is something super-natural taking over their street. They need to find the source of the evil Tak and destroy it before there is no one left to fight back.
I would love to see this story adapted for the big screen. The problem would be the scale of the movie. There would need to be a team of special effects artists involved as big as Saving Private Ryan. The book is thoroughly engrossing. Stephen has a way of making the danger feel real for the reader. I don't usually get that from a lot of authors. This book is definitely worth checking out.
6) Cell (2006): This book actually threw me for a loop. One genre that I never thought that Stephen King would tackle was the zombie genre. Not surprisingly, the two went together like chocolate and peanut butter. Some people love it, some hate it. Personally I loved it.
The story revolves around the character of Clayton Riddle, an aspiring comic book artist who's ship just came in. Unfortunately, on the day that he gets his dream job, a mysterious frequency is sent through all cell phone networks that causes anyone who uses a cell phone to become a zombie. For those who don't have a cell phone, like Clay, there are no harmful affects. You know, besides the millions of people who do have cell phones and are turning into murderous zombies in front of his eyes.
The idea of zombies to me is not a scary thing. All you need to do is get a chain mail shark suit and a grip of weapons and you are good to go. But Stephen's vision of zombies scare me. They only travel in the day time, but they can communicate with on another. They form hunting parties and won't stop until everyone is either eaten or a member of the undead.
King's story of Clay is captivating. Through out the story, Clay's only thought is son and to get to safety. Anyone who is a parent knows that irrational thinking that comes when one of your children is in trouble. This story is a roller-coaster of emotions. I suggest you hold on for the ride.
5) The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999): In true King fashion, this novel has a way of finding our true fears and exploiting them to the fullest.
This novel is about a 9 year old girl named Trisha. Trisha is dealing with the current divorce of her parents and all of the ramifications of that situation. Trisha accompanies her mother and brother, Pete, on a six mile hike on the New Hampshire-Maine branch of the Appalachian Trail. Tired of hearing her mother and brother fight with one another and having to use the "facilities", Trisha wonders away from the group. Noticing that she has fallen behind, Trisha decides to cut through the woods as a short cut to catch up with her family. Needless to say, this doesn't go as planned.
Throughout her journey in the woods, all Trisha has to defend herself are her wits and assertiveness. Not knowing where she is going and fearing that something is stalking her. Trisha preservers through the maze of woods with her only companion being her imaginary guide, Tom Gordon Red Sox relief pitcher and Trisha's one true hero.
We all know what it is like to be lost and how it can mess with your mind. This story really plays on those fears and then some.
4) The Long Walk (1979): This is another installment brought to us by that elusive writer Richard Bachman.
This might not be categorized as one of King's scariest, but it is definitely one of his most captivating. Eerily it seems to be prophetic.
The Long Walk is a contest/game show, in the near future, where young men are given a chance to win any prize that they literally imagine. All they have to do is out walk 99 other competitors. Sound easy enough? Then lets talk about the rules. You cannot stop, ever. You have to keep up a constant speed of 4 mph. If you go below this speed or stop you get one strike. If the moment you hit four strikes you are done. Not done in the sense that you can just get off the course and go home. Done in the sense that you will be instantly shot in the head. You must walk day in and day out until you are the last one standing.
The novel follows Ray Garraty, a boy determined to win prizes beyond his imagination. I am telling you that this is a novel that can't be missed.
2&3) The Talisman & The Black House (1984, 2001): The reason these are together is because The Black House is technically #3 but it is the sequel to The Talisman. So talking about the second story before the first is kind of ridiculous and confusing. So here we go!
These books were both co-written by Peter Straub. So lets start from the beginning.
Have you ever thought that there could be a world or dimension just like ours, just a little different. The Talisman explores that possibility. The story follows a twelve-year old boy named Jack Sawyer. Jack isn't like other boys his age. First he lives in a hotel with his actress mother. Second his mother is dying and he is the only one that can save her. The only way he can do that is to travel back and forth between this world and an alternate universe dubbed The Territories. The other world is much like ours, in fact Jack runs into twinners of people. Twinners are people that look the same in both worlds, and seem to have the same personality. The journey he is on will take him from the east coast to the west coast, in both places, in search of the Talisman that will cure his mother.
This book is in my top 10 books of all time.
In The Black House we find Jack 20 years older and very different. He has forgotten totally about his adventure when he was twelve. We find Jack as a Los Angeles cop who retired early and is now living in a small town in Wisconsin. When murders start happening in the small town that he lives in, the local authorities ask Jack for some help. While investigating the crimes, Jack starts to remember what happened when he was younger. He starts to realize that what is going on doesn't only affect this world but the territories as well. So now Jack has to travel between universes once again to put a stop to an evil that can destroy everything.
Trust me, both books are worth checking out. The writing is excellent. The writers have a way of making you a part of the story.
1) The Dark Tower Series 1-7 (1982 - 2004): I know that some of you are thinking that this whole list could have been The Dark Tower series. This is true, each book is worthy of their own spot on this list, but I had to remember that each book is just a chapter in the whole. This was meant to be one continuous story. So I will treat it as such. As a whole The Dark Tower blew my mind. This is the story that connects everything. Literally everything in the Stephen King world. You find hints of many other stories throughout all seven books. There is so much that I would like to tell you as the reader, but I think you will enjoy it more if you were to find out for yourselves.
The Dark Tower is about a gunslinger named Roland Deschain. Roland lives in a world very similar to ours. Roland is on a quest of epic proportions. Meaning if he fails, the consequence would be total an utter destruction of not only his world, but of our world and every other one like it. The story follows Roland and his band of misfits as he tries to make it to the Dark Tower, kill the man in black and rectify past wrongs that Roland has committed in his hundreds of years of existence.
There is so much that I want to tell you about this book series. I just feel that if I tell you too much, I might give too much away. I think you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not reading this series. They totally changed the way I think about books in general.
Well my friends, the list is finished. I know that there are some of you who might disagree with it and that is great. I want to know what I have missed. I love your feedback. Let me know what you think. For those of you who have missed Dr. Venkmans article from last week CLICK HERE and you can check it out.