Okay, this is really hard for me to put into words, but I’m going to try. It seems to me in a lot of Stephen King books he builds up a great story and then just runs out of momentum at the end and just throws together some crazy stuff to finish the book.
I noticed this for the first time in It, which is a story I happen to like very much. Wonderful characters, great story told in a really interesting flashback way and then at the end there’s a big spider and deadlights and a big turtle and biting on tongues and huh?
Insomina is another good example. Started off a great little story with an older character (rare in most popular fiction) who just can’t sleep and it just ballooned and got bizarre and there was a Red King and a hole in the ground and a quilt and huh?
I call this Stephen King going off into “la la land.” It’s like he builds up so much momentum, no normal plot could finish the story and he has to pull ludicrous stuff out of his ass to get the job done, but it’s not very good.
One of the things I really liked about early Stephen King novels was his realism, which seems like an odd thing to say about horror novels. But, if you think about it, if a vampire was going to turn a small town in Maine, it might happen just like Salem’s Lot! Or a haunted car! Or a girl who could start fires.
Stephen King also had a great ability to write well for even the most tertiary of characters, like Becka Paulson in The Tommyknockers. Even secondary characters are fully fleshed and realized in most early Stephen King novels, like Dick Halloran in The Shining.
He seems to have lost both his knack for a nifty realism in the middle of horror and for characterization, two of the things I enjoyed the most about his writing, and it’s a shame.
I do like the fact that he’s created a universe, for example Cujo is mentioned in another book and Derry pops up several times.
My list of favorite King novels reads like many of the lists above. I loved It , The Talisman, The Stand, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone and Green Mile. I also liked Eyes of the Dragon (have the first edition), Christine, Carrie and Firestarter (I loved this one, I read it when I was in the 8th grade! Kids with super powers! Evil government agencies!).
Not so wild about Cujo, Misery, Delores Clairborne, Pet Sematary, Tommyknockers, Girl who Loved Tom Gordon
Didn’t like: Gerald’s game, Bag of Bones, Dark Half, Needful Things
Hated: Insomnia, Rosemadder, Desperation, The Regulators
Took back to the bookstore and got my money back: Dreamcatcher: poop jokes! A beautific retarded boy! Just dreadful. Black House: saintly blind man! Bleh.
It’s funny, you know my favorite parts of Stephen King books lately? His author notes, Stephen King seems like one hell of a guy.