Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dark Half by Stephen King - sort of a biography?

(my cover is a bit different)

My Rate:☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠☠  (8/10 Skulls)

Original Title: The Dark Half
Norwegian Title: Den andre siden
Written by: Stephen King
Genre: horror/crime
Written for: Adult
Pages: 426
Viking (Penguin Books)
Published in Norway: 1992 
My copy: 1998 (Paperback)
Norwegian Publisher: Aschehoug
I read it: May 20 - June 3, 2011
From my own personal "library"


In 1985, 39-year-old Stephen King announced in public that his pseudonymous alter ego, Richard Bachman, was dead. (Never mind that he revived him years later to write The Regulators.)

At the beginning of The Dark Half (1989), 39-year-old writer Thad Beaumont announces in public that his own pseudonym, George Stark, is dead.

Now, King didn't want to jettison the Bachman novel, titled Machine Dreams, that was he working on. So he incorporated it in The Dark Half as the crime oeuvre of George Stark, whose recurring hero/alter ego is an evil character named Alexis Machine.

Thad Beaumont's pseudonym is not so docile as Stephen King's, though, and George Stark bursts forth into reality. At that point, two stories kick into gear: a mystery-detective story about the crime spree of George Stark (or is it Alexis Machine?) and a horror story about Beaumont's struggle to catch up with his doppelganger and kill him dead.

Is it possible that an imaginary person comes to life?

Thad Beaumont is an ordinary man. He is married and together with his wife they have twins to take care of. He is an author and sold many books with the made up name; George Stark. But now he wants to dump George Stark for good and publish books with his own name. He wants to move on in his writing career but it turns out to be easier said than done. First of all, Thad sold more books through the George Stark name than with his own and second of all, George Stark has other plans. He has no plans to die and just disappear. He is very much alive and he wants to prove it for Thad Beaumont and the rest of his family and before Thad is aware of it, he, his wife and twins are in great danger. And it only gets worse when persons who are close to the family get murdered and the evidences lead to Thad himself. How can he explain to the police/FBI that he is innocent and that a guy he created with the name George Stark is behind everything and he is afraid of his own life and his family members? How will he explain this to others without sounding crazy?

This book must have been standing on one of my bookshelves over ten years, at least. I bought some books by King in Norwegian sometime in the middle of the 90s when I was exploring his career for the first time. And at that time I used to read every book by all authors in Norwegian. But after I started reading books by King in English, I now prefer to read his books in English ‘cause I feel like he lose his unique telling voice in the translation. It’s somehow not the same (hard to explain but I hope you know what I mean). But since I already had this one in Norwegian I didn’t have a choice than to just read it in Norwegian (even though I prefer to read his books in English). Anyway, but after standing unread for so long on one of my bookshelves and since I’m joining Stephen King Reading Challenge hosted by Book Chick City I thought it was about time to read it. I’ve read many SK books in my life and last year I read a lot of them. So, after like six months without a SK book I thought it was about time to read some of his books again since he is my all time fave author and I haven’t read all his books yet and this challenge gives me the chance to read even more books by him which I’m really looking forward to.

I remember I saw the movie based on this book many years ago (but I still remember it well), and even though I prefer to read the books before I see the movies, I don’t feel like it ruined the good reading experience. George Stark is a creepy guy who I find very interesting. He shows no mercy, is pretty violent, has a dark sense of humor and he knows what he wants. The scary part is how much power he has over Thad Beaumont who is forced to write another George Stark book or else Thad and his family will not have a happy ending. And Thad wants to get rid of George Stark for good but how? How is it possible to get someone who is created by his own imaginary to go away? I think it’s a very interesting and weird concept and I was pretty nervous about how this all would end for Thad and his family. ‘Cause George Stark is not a person you want to mess with. He is not that kind of a guy who gives up that easily.

Even though I spent days to finish the book it was because of reading for the finals as well so I allowed myself to read this book only in short periods between readings for the finals. I didn’t spend so many days to finish the book ‘cause it was boring. No way. I enjoyed the The Dark Half very much and couldn’t wait to get to know how this all would end ‘and only hoped the best for Thad and his loved ones. You never know what’s gonna happen in a Stephen King book, right?

This book made me realize that the author himself has a lot in common with the main character, Thad Beaumont and made me think of this could be sort of a secret biography of Stephen King or something.
The main character Thad is an author who lives in Maine (yeah I know several main characters in Stephen King books and also lives in Maine and many of them are authors but that’s not the only common thing). 
Thad is an ex-alcoholic and so is King. He had drinking problems in the beginning of his career (maybe that’s why his books was best in the early years of his career? I love many of his new novels as well but his books in the 70s and the 80s are the best. They were very vivid and much darker. Maybe he was more creative and had dark imagine while drinking? Who knows?)

So, is it sort of a biography or is it just coincident? I think it’s an interesting thought! And King is a very interesting guy.

To be honest I thought I would bore myself to death with this book since I’ve already seen the movie many years ago and remember it well. The book is a bit slow at first, in the first half but in the second half it really got exciting! And I also found out that the movie is very different from the book. It’s the same concept but the movie has made a lot of own turns as well. I know many movies that are based on books do a few things different and that’s normal but I think the movie maybe was just 30% true to the book.

I loved the characters in the books very much and I liked Thad more and more. He seemed kind and loving family man who would do anything to make his family feel safe. And I was hoping that he and the rest of the family would survive this hell they went through.

The Dark Half is a dark book about being true to yourself and a dangerous game in a dark world. And what a person is willing to do to save himself and the people he loves. I never thought the book would be so exciting since I had seen the movie but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed reading it a lot and got sad when it was over.

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