The Romance Novel Challenge was designed to broaden my own reading horizions while teasing some of you who have never read a romance novel (or an inspirational romance novel) into giving one a try. I promised to share my impressions of the books I am "forced" to read, so here is the third of my book reports:
Chris Mikesell is a sneaky guy. He agreed to read his first-ever romance novel if I would read a Stephen King book. His choice for me was Misery, which happens to be a story about a romance novelist who is kidnapped and tortured by an insane fan.
Very funny, Chris. Now stop snickering and I'll get on with this.
It took me four sittings to read this book. I almost quit twice, but I stuck with it because I was fascinated by its sheer badness. The spectacular writing I enjoyed in Bag of Bones was nowhere apparent, but perhaps that is at least partially explained by the fact that Bag of Bones was written ten years after Misery. Those of you who have read both novels may wish to share your thoughts on that.
Chris said he'd be interested to know what I thought of the novel-within-the-novel, the romance story called "Misery's Return" that's pounded out under duress by protagonist Paul Sheldon, who has made a fortune writing such things. I found it wholly disgusting. How did the remarkably talented King manage to present a caricature of a romance novel without making it at least a little bit clever or amusing? It's just plain bad, and not in the delicious way it should have been.
On to the "scary" stuff. I didn't find any in this book. King did manage to revolt me, however; I had to skip some pages during the lawnmower scene, in particular. But the bottom line is that King could have scared me if he hadn't pushed so hard. Less is more, Steve. The thing that's so frightening about real-life mass murderers is that their neighbors think they're quite ordinary people. So Annie and her overdone temper tantrums weren't frightening, but ridiculous. I did begin to squirm a bit at Paul's drug- and fear-induced madness, but even that was carried so far that I finally disconnected from the story (not that I was ever fully engaged to begin with). Without the slightest emotional investment in the protagonist's struggle, I found the book's ending tedious and unnecessarily complex.
I realize this book is a favorite of King fans, and I'm curious to know why. Would anyone care to comment? What did I miss?
Next up for me is Joseph Nassise's Riverwatch, another horror novel. My previous book reports, on Stephen King's Bag of Bones and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, are here and here.