Author: Stephen King
Publication Date: February 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover (from an anthology)
Reeling from a painful break-up, English instructor and avid book lover Wesley Smith is haunted by his ex-girlfriend’s parting shot: “Why can’t you just read off the computer like everyone else?” He buys an e-book reader out of spite, but soon finds he can use the device to glimpse realities he had never before imagined, discovering literary riches beyond his wildest dreams…and all-too-human tragedies that surpass his most terrible nightmares.
I’ll come right out and say that this story was extremely gimmicky. King is very upfront about the fact that he was approached by a friend to write a story for Amazon to go with the launch of the second generation of Kindle ereaders. While I’m a fan of both Amazon and the Kindle, being a proud owner of a Kindle Oasis, this little marketing ploy made me roll my eyes. I can’t rag on King too much about it, the man has an incredible talent for writing and he can write whatever he damn well pleases. I just didn’t really dig this story despite how wonderful King’s writing is, the plot felt pretty weak.
An English professor orders a kindle out of spite for his ex-girlfriend, receiving a unique pink kindle that isn’t available anywhere else. Besides the usual kindle selection he also finds a hidden selection of “urs.” Works by famous authors that were never published, in this reality anyway. While the exploration of the idea of alternate realities was intriguing, I spent much of the time asking myself where all of this was going. The story eventually picks up pace around the last twenty or so pages, and while I think there was potential there I just found myself wanting a little more.
It is amusing enough for a novella if you like stories about paradoxes and are a fan of King in general. There are some fun little nods to The Dark Tower and Christine that made me smile. Sadly this book just wasn’t for me.
This novella was originally released exclusively to Amazon and later collected in the anthology The Bazaar of Bad Dreams which is where I read it. I wanted to write a review about this story specifically, not only to support my assessment of the collection as a whole, but also because this book is available by itself. Despite the fact that this book is often tagged as horror (all of King’s works usually are) this book wasn’t really horrific in any way.
Strengths: Full of King’s usual wit
Weaknesses: Gimmicky, weak plot
“It occurred to him that spite was a kind of methadone for lovers. Was it better to go cold turkey? Perhaps not.”
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