Later by Stephen King is the latest novel from the master storyteller. It saddens me to say that this is the biggest disappointment read of 2021 so far. This novel is the best example of what you’d call an established author on autopilot mode. Everything from the story itself, the ideas, the horror (or lack thereof) to the characters are just plain ol’ recycled material, generic and as cliche as it comes. It really felt as if this story was somehow buried in his archive for the last 20 or so years and only now did he remember about it and dug it out from the grave.
“I was on my own, and that was a lonely, scary place to be.” – Jamie Conklin
At almost 250 pages, Later felt much longer as a lot of the short chapters felt like useless drivel that didn’t serve to move the plot at all. Yet somehow and some way, Stephen is still able to keep me engaged. It’s like he is somehow effortlessly jedi mind tricking his readers into continuing with the reading with the sweet promise of something better around the corner but without actually having to put any effort into doing just that. This is not the first time he or another great and experienced author has done to me. Yet it still remains that this novel is just plain ol’ boring. The story is told through Jamie’s point of view and it’s not long until you discover just what special “ability” he has as a child growing up. I’m sure a lot of eyes will have rolled on this part. Characters are kept at a minimum but the sad part is you’re not going to care for any of them. Jamie tries to be funny at times when speaking directly to the readers but he fails.
It feels as if Stephen is playing a prank on us with this novel. Jamie keeps reminding us that this is a horror story yet there is absolutely nothing scary about Later. However, I’m not docking points for this because I personally haven’t gotten scared from reading a novel in a long while. I will give a novel special points if it actually does manage to scare me but if it didn’t, I wouldn’t dock it. The novel also tries to sell itself as a mystery but there is also zero of that as well. If there is one, it was completely lost on me. When the surprise finally hit in the end, I shook my head one final time. Not only did it not matter at that point but I’m fairly certain readers probably wouldn’t have cared either way because it just came out of nowhere and made zero sense. Or rather, it just felt tact on and extremely cheesy. I was mad because out of all the things the author could have chosen to use, he choose to go with “that” route. This again confirms a bit for me that this idea of a novel/story was shelved decades ago and the author was too lazy to change things up for a 2021 release.
“I heard her. I’m dead, not deaf.” – Regis Thomas
I urge most readers to skip this. The author knows anything he writes will undoubtedly be on the best seller list. Hardcore fans will also undoubtedly defend all his works and will never give him anything less than maximum score on a review. I am here to tell you that the only mystery is trying to figure out just how it is he is able to yet again pull me in with his awesome writing albeit with such a bad story. I would have probably called it quits midway if it was someone else’s writing style.