IT – Stephen King

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IT is Stephen King’s 22nd book. Though the novel was originally written in 1986, it has recently been thrown back into the limelight due to the hugely successful 2017 film adaptation. The novel itself is slightly different to the 2017 film, as that adaptation only focused upon one part of the novel, when the characters were children. The original novel, however, is set across two time periods: the 1950s and the 1980s. These two parts are not as you may think though, they do not split the book directly in half as you may assume, as I had. Rather they run alongside one another, and as a reader you are continuously swapping between the two periods.

The book focuses upon a small American town called Derry, which is haunted by an entity referred to as ‘IT’ which exploits the fears of the towns children. IT often appears as a clown to lure in its chosen victims, which is how King often describes this entity to his reader. The first time period follows a small group of children who become acutely aware of IT’s presence and decide to take it upon themselves to save the town from its influence. In the second time period though we are introduced to these same children, but as the adults they become.

I actually started reading IT in September, with the hope that I would read the novel in the lead up to Halloween. However, I didn’t actually finish reading King’s book until very recently, in January. I had an unusual approach for IT, and found myself watching the film adaptation before reading the book. – which I don’t usually do, in fear that i’ll be put off of the book, or just get bored because I know the outcome. However, because I knew the film did not cover the whole book, I thought I would be pretty safe. Unfortunately, although I did begin the novel really enjoying it, i slowly found myself dreading picking it up again. I found that King’s novel was just far too long for me. At over a thousand pages, it is the longest novel I have attempted to tackle – and probably the longest I will ever attempt.

I appreciate Stephen King as a writer, and realise when I am reading something that is well written, as IT is. It was a good concept, to combine the time periods and introduce the reader to the child and adult version of King’s characters. That was actually something that i did really enjoy. I liked seeing how the characters had progressed in life, after experiencing the trauma they did, and I liked how the bonds between the characters remained so strong over time. But again, I personally got bored. I felt I wasn’t being introduced to anything new as time went on. The story simply seemed to be repeating itself just with adults instead of children.

So, for me, I wouldn’t recommend Stephen King’s IT if you are not used to a longer read or if you like to be continuously engaged with new and interesting content. But definitely, if you are a Stephen King fan or even just a horror fan, give it a go, you may find that your attention span is far better than mine – which is very likely at the moment!

As I’ve mentioned IT has been recently adapted for the big screen. This was something I thoroughly enjoyed, and would highly recommend to everyone! Though it only focuses upon one part of King’s novel, I do believe there is going to be a second movie made in the future. So, fingers crossed!

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The Caller – Chris Carter

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The Caller is a 2017 novel by American writer Chris Carter. It is the eighth novel in Carter’s L.A based, Robert Hunter crime series. The novel focuses on a number of murders, whose common connection are the use of a video call via a telephone. Robert Hunter and his fellow detectives find themselves hunting for a predator who uses their victims’ social media to taunt them and feed on their fear.

I am somebody who, like many others, enjoys watching a good crime series and psychological thriller. For some reason though, I rarely enter the crime genre when it comes to literature. When I came across this book, and Chris Carter, I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept. – and The Caller did not disappoint. It touched on all the aspects of a good box set. The novel was suspenseful, it was gripping, it was well written, and at times it was a little bit gruesome – which I always find leaves me wanting more, just to discover what would lead somebody to commit such acts. So, understandably, it did not take me long to finish this novel.

Throughout my reading of The Caller I found I was constantly trying to guess who the culprit was. Though at each turn, and each new murder, my suspicions were ever changing. This I thought was fantastic as so often I find the ending of a story is so easily guessed. So, it felt refreshing to stumble across a novel that did not leave me disappointed at its closure.

I feel that Chris Carter has created a well executed crime novel. Though this should come as no surprise, as I Carter has a background in criminal psychology, helping to make his story look effortless. I will definitely find myself checking out more of Carter’s ‘Robert Hunter’ series, and I would recommend you do the same. Though, if you’re a little bit on the squeamish side, I would probably suggest you avoid these novels.

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The One – John Marrs

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John Marrs 2017 novel The One is a story about finding your perfect match. In Marr’s world there has been a development in the world of love which can genetically match you with your perfect match. The novel follows the lives of six individuals who have applied to find their match. Each character takes us on a journey of the positives and negatives of the idea of a perfect match.

I think a novel like The One is very current in where we currently are in the dating world. From apps and websites, to unique dating events like being matched through a scent, it’s safe to say that the dating world has progressed majorly. And, with science continuously moving forward, it’s not difficult to imagine a world whereby we could be matched with a significant other through our DNA. It seems like an easy solution, right? Avoiding any time wasters, eliminating the anxiety of meeting new people, saying goodbye to potential heartbreak because you are not actually suited and you get all this for just a small fee. However, if you’ve ever thought something like this would be a good idea, Marrs novel will surely prove you wrong – or at least question your views. This is because she fantastically emphasises that you never know what somebody is really like, and what is really going on behind closed doors. Therefore this ‘perfect match’ could be exactly what your genetics requires, but they could be the opposite of what your morals and mind wants. – which you will see evidence in this novel.

When I found Marrs novel The One online, I was immediately drawn in by its concept. So, I was very excited to get my claws into this novel. However, it is not just the idea that I loved, the structure and style is something I really enjoyed too. Each chapter focused on a different character, but also some of these characters could be paired off as couples. For example the chapter’s focusing on Amy and Christopher, demonstrate the two sides of a matched couple. This enabled a more rounded picture regarding the matches, as we were seeing both sides of the match, and their feelings and thought processes towards it. It was interesting to read the two sides as one would try to keep a secret from the other, and we are able to witness first hand these secrets ruining the matches.

I found Marrs novel to be a real page turner, but I think this was solely because I enjoyed reading about some character’s stories more than others, so I wanted to get to their chapters quickly. That being said though, I did find the novel to be an easy read, each story flowed well, and the jumping between each character was pretty smooth. So, even though I was drawn to some characters more than others I did not struggle to get into all of the separate stories. The only thing that I would mention about this style of writing, whereby Marr focused on different characters in different chapters, was that at times I found myself having to go back and double check who I was reading about. Because there is so much going on in The One, I found that when you start reading the novel it can be a little complicated to keep up, though with perseverance you get the hang of it!

I would a hundred percent recommend this book, read it if you like a suspense novel, read it if you like the concept of having a genetic match, or read it if you like a quick read. Because if you like any of those things you are sure to get on well with Marrs The One

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The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

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The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of Oscar Wilde’s only novels. It is a gothic novel which follows the character of Dorian Gray and his demise after he sells his soul to the devil for beauty. Written in 1890, this novel is an interesting read as it was used as evidence during Wilde’s trial for gross indecency and relations with another man. At the time it was claimed that Wilde’s work emulated his own feelings in regards to homosexuality. Wilde even went on to add a prologue, which argues against the idea that his novel demonstrates his homosexual feelings. He argued that art can be created for the sake of it, that often there are no deep meanings behind art; it is just there to be enjoyed.

Believe it or not, previous to my introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray I have not had much experience with Wilde and his work. I personally struggle to connect with literature which is regarded as being ‘classic’. This may be because I have been continuously made to study them, and thus have found myself not enjoying them. However when I came across Wilde’s book I was pleasantly intrigued. I love a good gothic novel anyway, but the concept of selling ones soul for the sake of beauty was truly intriguing. I mean, I’m sure we all know somebody that would seriously consider this to stay young and beautiful forever, right?

The Picture of Dorian Gray is only a short novel, so I found myself getting through it quite quickly. This is helped by how well written and fluid Wilde’s work is. The speed that I got through it even had me questioning how it could be a 19th century novel. Though, that’s because of my personal experience with novels from this time period.

What I liked most about The Picture of Dorian Gray though was the character of Dorian himself. I loved how over such a short novel we saw such a progression in his character. The novel is set out over the course of many years, and in this time Dorian goes from a very well respected young man to a soulless murderous villain. And for me, this was exciting to read, to discover how far somebody can fall when they have made the decisions that Dorian had made. It was interesting to read how his decisions over this time were haunting him both mentally and physically. Wilde certainly has you questioning some of the decisions you go on to make after reading this novel.

I lack any negative comments regarding this book, though this may be because of how happy I am to have found a ‘classic’ that I love. I definitely think this Wilde’s novel is worth a read, whether you like the classics or not. It is a novel that leaves you reflecting on numerous themes, such as beauty, youth and greed. And, any novel that keeps you thinking and reflecting on what has been discussed is definitely a book worth reading.

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Dear Amy – Helen Callaghan

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 Dear Amy is the debut psychological suspense novel from Helen Callaghan. The plot focuses around an agony aunt who begins to receive letters from a girl who has been missing for 20 years – and is presumed dead. Margot, the agony aunt, at first believes they are a hoax, but meanwhile another girl has gone missing. As the search for the missing girl gets longer and longer, Margot begins to believe that the letters could be more than just a silly hoax.

I read Dear Amy quite quickly, which is always a big sign that you are enjoying a novel. It possessed the good elements I like in a psychological thriller, with the tensions continuously climbing. Callaghan’s writing in this novel is also very fluid, which made the reading of story so much easier, hence the quick finish. The premise of the story is also a very interesting one, and I found I grew to like the key character, Margot. So, I found as each page turned I was massively urging Margot to continue in her discoveries, and get to the bottom of the mystery. Like any true psychological thriller there was a huge twist towards the end of the novel. Though this twist turned out to be simply ambitious

When reading Dear Amy, I found it became too obvious where this novel was heading. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I realised I knew where this story was going, but just know I did. This slightly took away from the suspense and tension that Callaghan had been previously developing. Aside from being easily guessed, I feel this last twist is also completely farfetched. So, even if you get to Callaghan’s last twist without guessing the ending, I feel the effect of it is completely diminished by how unrealistic and unbelievable the situation is. Which ultimately takes away from how good the book could have been. So, dare I say that Dear Amy was slightly disappointing?

As I said, I liked the premise of Dear Amy, and it was well executed until the twist at the end, I was simply left disappointed by how unrealistic it was. However, some might say if you can’t be unrealistic and far-fetched in literature, where can you be? Though personally, I just didn’t feel this was the book to be experimental with realism. I’d recommend you reading this book though if you’re looking for a quick read, something you don’t want to commit to for a long period of time. Its fluidity means it’ll be over in a couple of sittings, whether you enjoy the end or not.

I’d love to know what you felt about this novel, did you guess the ending? Did you find it a little unbelievable? Or did you love it, and find the twist was a great fit?

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