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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Mist: A Novel

I have a habit of asking people what they are reading when they have a book in their hands. This probably surprises no one, as I am a bookaholic. I asked one of my students this semester what he was reading, and it was The Stand. I told him that I am a fan of Stephen King, and we spoke at length about our favorite books. A couple of weeks later he came to class and handed me a stack of King's books, as he was moving and was hoping to not have to pack them. I was thrilled, as I always am when books come to me. The Mist was one of those books, and I recently read it on my way to visit friends in the Southwest. 

It's a regular day for David and his family in Maine. He works on the house, his young son plays around the house, and his wife makes lunch. He watches a fog slowly move in, but thinks nothing of it. This is Maine, after all. It looks ominous, but fog has an innately ominous quality about it. When his neighbor needs a lift to the supermarket, David agrees and Billy tags along. While there, the most rolls in. A frightening sight, anyone who leaves the market is swallowed up in a terrifying, blood-curdling, violent act by an unknown supernatural force. Until they can escape safely -- and who can? -- David and his son must fight for their lives both in and out of the supermarket. 

I love a good, thin dose of King. This book was exactly that. It was frightening enough to grab me and pull me in while being quick enough to the point that I felt satisfied and dismayed at the same time. Upon leaving David's we behind, we are told that's the last time he would see her, and that killed me. My chest hurt, and I wanted to implore him to go back and make her come with them. But you can't change the past -- something most of us know well. 

As I have said on this blog many times, I'm not a huge fan of zombies and the supernatural. What I appreciated about this novella is that we got a glimpse of the evil in the mist, enough to gross me out and wonder what it could be; but we never got a full oicture of what exactly it was and why it was so evil. I appreciate that ambiguity in a novel, as I feel that it lends itself to more terror than actually knowing exactly what it is. Why does it eat humans? What is its purpose? These things we will never know, and in classic King fashion, that's not the point of the story. 

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