Misery

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Misery
by Stephen King
★★★★

After crashing his car in a blizzard the famous writer Paul Sheldon is found and rescued by his number one fan Annie Wilkes. Unfortunately Annie is flipping nuts and Paul becomes her captive in a tiny Colorado town. This book is every writer’s worst nightmare. As the days stretch into weeks the reader grows just as scared of Annie as Paul is. She’s terrifying because she’s so realistic. She’s obviously mentally ill and her instability leads to unpredictable mood swings and temper flares. Unlike some of King’s supernatural villains, Annie is a sociopath who could exist anywhere.

King’s use of suspense and his tightly stretched line of tension throughout the book so well done. He has only two main characters and a small house and yet it’s hard to look away as the scene unfolds. Annie is emotionally manipulative and manages to make Paul feel shame and guilt, even though he’s the victim.

My only problem with the book is that Annie is absolutely exhausting. That’s completely understandable and really that’s the way it should be, but it doesn’t make it fun. One of my favorite aspects of King’s novels is his huge casts of characters. Even when there are only half a dozen main characters we get to know them so well. With Misery we are trapped in Annie’s twisted world and through Paul’s eyes we watch her insanity slowly reveal itself. It’s fascinating, but also draining.

BOTTOM LINE: A horrifying book, but not my favorite King novel. Annie Wilkes is one of the most disturbing villains I’ve ever encountered because she’s someone you could actually meet in real life. This tightly-wound thriller is hard to put down and she will be hard to forget.

I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

**I watched the 1990 movie version (starring Kathy Bates and James Caan) after reading the book. I couldn’t believe how perfectly Kathy Bates embodied Annie Wilkes. There are a few added scenes and characters in the movie and they changed a few plot points, but it’s really well done. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of the book.


7 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I agree on all accounts. When I finished this book, way back when, it left me feeling like a limp dishrag. Partly because of Annie's personality, and partly because of the tension that just DOESN'T LET UP. And love the movie. I bet we've seen it a dozen times.

Bybee said...

Misery and Carrie are my favorite King novels. I haven't read them all yet.

Amy Meyer said...

I've seen the movie but haven't read the book. I really appreciate your comment at the end of your review about the movie. It sounds like the reader spends a lot more time with Annie Wilkes than the movie viewer does which, if it's the case, makes sense. I'm intrigued by your comment about how tiring Annie is due to spending so much time with her. It makes me want to read Misery just to experience Annie...maybe one day! Great review!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I watched it for the first time after reading it. So well done!

Bybee - Carrie was an interesting one. I really loved the shrot story The Body (made into the movie Stand by Me) and Green Mile.

Amy - She is just crazy intense. I can't imagine being around someone like that in real life.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Loved the book and the movie (Kathy Bates was terrific).

Laura said...

Yeah, this book is definitely really really claustrophobic, but in a super super effective way. I kind of agree though- I admire it so so so much, but it's almost TOO horrible to be my favourite King novel. But it's still excellent.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - She really was. I heard King loved her in the role so much that he wrote Dolores Claiborne with her in mind.

Laura - That's the perfect way to describe it. It's very claustrophobic.