Thursday, July 22, 2021

Spooky Crime: Later by Stephen King


Stephen King's latest book, Later, is a fun, short novel with more spooky stuff than you might expect from a "Hard Case Crime" novel. There are also a few interesting connections to other Stephen King books (which I won't spoil).

Our young protagonist lives with his editor mother in New York City. The spooky stuff starts in the first few pages, and I think I'll keep this review short and spoiler-free by avoiding saying what spooky stuff there is exactly. We follow the protagonist from a young kid to a teenager, which of course involves some of that age-old coming-of-age stuff. I also really like the relationship between him and his mom, which reminded me of me and my mom when I was a kid.

It's probably best to say as little as possible about the plot, but the one "hard case crime" element is that the mom is in a relationship with a police detective who gets tangled up in some, well, crime.

Some of the deeper themes include the fear of and acceptance of death (as our protagonist says several times, this is a horror story, although not quite as intense as say, Pet Sematary), family relationships and what we owe each other, what it means to be mature, and, as is typical in King's horror, coming to terms with the unexplainable.

A lot of reviewers have also remarked upon the writing, which is great as King usually is. He keeps the reader interested with little repetitions (like why the book is called Later) and in-jokes and it's hard not to like the main character. One minor nitpick: While King is great with kids, some of the kid's slang feels a bit dated for someone born in the early 2000's (see King's recent novel, The Institute, for another example).

This is not going to be one of my favorite King books, but it's a solid effort from an author at the top of his game after 70+ books and counting.

See my Goodreads review.

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