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This is the first story by Stephen King that I've read, and if it's anything to go on, his works are extremely addictive. While this novella isn't as long as a novel, it isn't too far off, and even when I reached the end, I could have continued quite happily. Well, continued in a sort of sad, scared and enthralled way, but continued all the same.
Most of the time I try my hardest to read a book before watching the film based on it, because the film and novel mostly always differ in some respects and I'd rather have the original work forefront in my mind than the film. Often, the books are better. But with this, I'd watched the film first, and that's how the book came beeping onto my radar. Thankfully, I managed not to dwell too much on the film. This story is awesome, in a sort of dark, depressing way.
The title really explains a lot, as well as the author's name atop it. The Mist, and it ain't no normal mist. The story starts with a vicious storm that hits Bridgton, Maine, and after, an ominous and unnatural mist starts making its way towards the town. But as people in reality do, and obviously the characters of the story do, too, they ignore it, passing it off as just mist, even though their minds are screaming bloody murder at them. The white cloud of terror finally rains down on the whole town, and traps David and his son Billy in a market store with a whole bunch of other people. Mist, terror, people all trapped and rammed together? Yep, s*** is definitely going to go down.
I love the whole plot for this and the ambiguity it leaves you with. We're never told exactly how the mist happens to be, even though it is alluded to, and this lets the reader make up their own reasons and thoughts on it. Because to the people being attacked by whatever monstrosities are in the mist, they want to survive, who the crap cares where the mist comes from. It certainly isn't a happy fluffy bunny kingdom full of beautiful rainbows, no sir.
I also preferred this story's ending rather than the film's. The film left me shocked and emotionally drained in a horribly bad way, but the book leaves on an ambiguous note, and I much prefer that.
What mesmerises me most from the story, is the characters. They aren't all that totally unique, but that's not what matters. What captivates you is the way people react under such duress. How fear can change even the most passive person into a bloodthirsty monster. There are around three groups of people in the book: The rational one with which our sort of protagonist belongs to, set on surviving rather than the whys and hows behind the mist. A group aptly called the Flat-Earthers, who absolutely refuse to believe that the mist is anything but just mist (that doesn't end well). And then there are the people who become so desperate for something, they grapple onto a mad woman spouting omens and crying for the blood of a sacrifice (that doesn't end particularly well either). These groups are what make the story truly great, what we become when there is no hope, when there is only fear to cling to.
As I said, if this novella is anything to go by, Stephen King's writing is extremely addictive, and exactly what I needed after such a full book like George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings. I can tell you, more works from Mr King are in my future.
Luckily, I read this from the compilation work Skeleton Crew.
For more Stephen King reviews: Index
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