Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Musings: The Thief and The Gunslinger: Mini Reviews

I recently re-read two books: one that I love and one I was lukewarm toward the last I read it. Both are first books in their respective series, and both were picked because I want to read the rest of their series soon(ish). Since my experience with them was so dissimilar despite the similar reasons for reading them (again) so close together, I thought I would write up some quick reviews of the two.

First off, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

I've read this book three times now, and it gets better with each reading. Turner's skillful use of an unreliable narrator who never outright lies to the reader, but continually withholds information in such a way as to lead the reader to the wrong conclusions, makes this a landmark in the young adult genre. I picked this one back up to start a reread of the series before the fifth book, Thick as Thieves, releases later this week. (Spoiler alert: I won't be finishing the series before the release, but I will probably read at least Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia before I read Thick as Thieves, because they are both phenomenal; A Conspiracy of Kings didn't wow me as much on a first read.) I had previously rated this one three or four stars on Goodreads, based on my memory of it, but I upped that to five stars this time. It's just such a well-done book.

Second on the agenda, The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

This is the first book in King's Dark Tower series, the film adaptation of which is set to premier this August. The trailer looks absolutely fabulous, and it convinced me to try the series again. I listened to the audio book of The Gunslinger three years ago, wasn't wowed out of my seat by it, and decided I'd get to the rest of the series "eventually" (which often means somewhere between one and twenty years for me). Not wanting to dive into book two (The Drawing of the Three) until I'd refreshed my memory of the first book, I listened to it again. And my reaction to it was much the same.

  • Roland and the Man in Black are powerful archetypes and I love their struggle and Roland's relentless pursuit.
  • The flashbacks to Roland's childhood were some of the best sections and made me want to know more about his past rather than his current conflict.
  • Jake deserved better than he got (turns out book two agrees with me so far).
  • The sexual content was more present and disturbing than in the other King novels I've read. (So far book two has toned this down to almost nonexistent.)
  • Because this book was originally a set of short stories, it feels disjointed (even in the revised and expanded version).
Overall, The Gunslinger still does not wow me. But so far, I'm enjoying The Drawing of the Three much more. It's still not quite 'Salem's Lot or The Eyes of the Dragon for me (those being my two favorite King novels so far) but it is much closer to them than The Gunslinger.

Have you read either of these books (or series)? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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