Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: Blaze by Stephen King (Kind Of)

Hello again, readers!

I recognize this title sounds a little wonky. Before I review Blaze, I'd like to give you some insight as to the author, so here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:

At the beginning of Stephen King's career, the general view among publishers was such that an author was limited to a book every year, since publishing more would not be acceptable to the public. King therefore wanted to write under another name, in order to increase his publication without over-saturating the market for the King "brand." He convinced his publisher, Signet Books, to print these novels under a pseudonym. [1]
In his introduction to The Bachman Books, King does state that Bachman was also an attempt to make sense out of his career and try to answer the question of whether his success was due to talent or luck. He says he deliberately released the Bachman novels with as little marketing presence as possible and did his best to "load the dice against" Bachman. King concludes that he has yet to find an answer to the "talent versus luck" question, as he felt that he was outed as Bachman too early to know.

So, when I say Blaze is "kind of" by Stephen King, you guys know what I mean, right?

Here's the description of Blaze, courtesy of Goodreads:

A fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze in 1973 on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 ("cancer of the pseudonym"), but in late 2006 King found the original typescript of Blaze among his papers at the University of Maine's Fogler Library ("How did this get here?!"), and decided that with a little revision it ought to be published.
Blaze is the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. -- of the crimes committed against him and the crimes he commits, including his last, the kidnapping of a baby heir worth millions. Blaze has been a slow thinker since childhood, when his father threw him down the stairs -- and then threw him down again. After escaping an abusive institution for boys when he was a teenager, Blaze hooks up with George, a seasoned criminal who thinks he has all the answers. But then George is killed, and Blaze, though haunted by his partner, is on his own.
He becomes one of the most sympathetic criminals in all of literature. This is a crime story of surprising strength and sadness, with a suspenseful current sustained by the classic workings of fate and character -- as taut and riveting as Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

The characters created in Blaze reminded me of George and Lenny in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In fact, one of the characters in Blaze--the one I believe is like Steinbeck's "George"--is even named George. The main character is Clayton Blaisdell, Jr, who goes by Blaze. he's had a rough life, which King explores throughout the novel. Blaze is haunted by his best friend George, and truly can't comprehend that George is no longer alive, even though Blaze witnessed his death. He carries George's memory along with him, and tries to make amends by following through with a common plan he and George shared--a kidnapping of a baby.

It's the characters that make this novel so conflicting. Blaze is the "bad guy," but readers see the nurturing, sympathetic side of him. He takes great care of the baby he kidnapped, and begins to treat the baby as his own. However, this "Lenny"-like character did not get all of my sympathy. Sorry, King.

Although I liked the character development, I was never swayed into seeing Blaze as the "good guy". The reflection on Blaze's past often only left me disliking Blaze more. The story line was disappointing for a Stephen King novel. Where was the action, the excitement? I expected my heart to be pounding throughout. This was probably the only Stephen King novel I've ever been able to put down. Perhaps it's a good thing Richard Bachman is no longer writing...

Here's where this book puts me for the year:
Blaze by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman
Rating: 3/5        
Pages: 340         
Page Goal: 13,296/15,000

Has anyone else read this? Thoughts?  

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