‘The Outsider’ by Stephen King [Book Review]

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This is the first Stephen King book I’ve read so I went into it with only the vaguest idea as to what it would be like–I was not prepared for the brutality of the crime that this novel centres around but somehow it didn’t really scare me of anything. It was just sadness and outrage at such a crime being done to a child but the antagonist didn’t make me want to turn on all the lights or anything like other novels have.

However, it’s kind of impossible for me to talk about anything interesting in this book without giving some stuff away and with a novel like this you really DON’T want to know what happens before you read it. Please don’t get angry at me if I give some plot stuff away.

The first half of this novel really had me–I was desperate to be clever and figure everything out before the characters did but keep hitting walls as new evidence was discovered, so I kept reading. It will have you staying up into the wee-hours because you know that the answers are in there somewhere and you want the innocent character to triumph.

Image from Free-Photos

I think for me the characters are the strongest part of this novel. I cared deeply for them and felt every tragedy that they were faced with. And I hated all the characters I was supposed to hate; other swayed my opinion of them as they reacted to new conflicts. All the main cast are complex and amusing in their own ways. The short coming is with the plot.

I love a good impossible crime kind of scenario and I thought that this would be one of those with a clever and unexpected conclusion but in reality the conclusion (I’ll avoid details as much as possible) left something to be desired, at least in my opinion. Like, they hint at some supernatural element being involved and I laughed it off expecting it to be a red-herring but then it’s just like, “yep, that’s what happened”. It feels a bit like:

But in this case… demons? Ghouls? I’m not entirely sure what the category of supernatural being we’re dealing with would be but considering how realistic the rest of the novel is it feels wrong and unsatisfying. There’s an idea in creative writing that the author makes promises at the beginning of the novel and the rest of the story is about fulfilling those promises. Here’s an episode of Writing Excuses where they explain what I mean if you’re interested:

I was expecting this to be a realistic story in which someone did something clever that made the impossible possible and instead I got a space lobster (folklore demonic character). Maybe my expectations where wrong from the beginning and that fault is on me but King should have pulled strong into the direction he planned to take instead of, what felt like to me, a sharp turn into a world of possibilities I hadn’t considered to that point.

I am fully willing to consider that this is just how King writes ad because this is my first exposure to his style that I was through off by it and other fans will enjoy it but it didn’t do anything for me.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

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