Month: February 2015

Rose Madder, by Stephen King

I have strangely mixed feelings about the works of Stephen King. I love his style of writing; and that’s an understatement. The man is brilliant with words – he can draw pictures with words. He makes his characters come to life. And they say if you’re thinking of writing a book, Stephen King has probably already published it.
But some of those very same highly acclaimed plots just don’t click with me. Consider Rose Madder, for instance. When I saw the cover, I thought this is gonna be real scary. In fact, I mistook it for another one of King’s works, whose title I cannot remember. This one isn’t scary. It’s sort of strange-hand-grabs-your-neck-in-the-dark kinda creepy in places. It’s even disturbing in places. But it is not scary. In fact, the element of paranormal in this book was too Alice Through The Looking Glass for me.
It started off with a realistic plot – wife who is a victim of domestic abuse, psychopathic husband who you wanna kill, and the wife’s decision to leave him after fourteen years of being married to him. That part was all believable. Now, any work of fiction builds up a crescendo and then sort of explodes at the end. That’s what we call the climax of the book. This one on the other hand dwindles into itself. It starts out great, but then fizzles out. By the end of the book, you just go “Meh.” It’s so anticlimactic, so implosive, that you start wondering if this is how he planned to end the book. Especially when you have (successfully) built so much hate in the reader’s mind for Norman Daniels. It doesn’t add up. The epilogue was disappointing too. If I may borrow the term “horcrux” from Harry Potter, the epilogue looked like Norman created one in his wife. Or she turned to her insane counterpart from the painting. If, that is, she was her counterpart.
Truth be told, Norman Daniels is one of the worst fictional villains I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. It truly is a pleasure to hate a character to such an extent that you applaud the author’s brilliance in creating such a character. You feel sympathy for Rosie, yes, but it is Norman you will remember for a long time after you’ve shut the book.
I did not feel Rose Madder’s story was closed properly. Where did she come from? What’s her actual connection to Rosie Real?
Open loops here and there and a fizzled out end. But I would still give it a 3/5 for the sheer brilliance of character portrayal.

Interested in reading this book?

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How Angels Die: A Confession, by Guy Blews

How Angels Die is one of the few books whose movie came out before the book or more or less at the same time (August 2014). What is strange is, all the praises/reviews printed in the book are about the movie, not this book. That almost never happens!
This is a true story. The story is similar to Erich Segal’s Love Story or even Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk To Remember (two books I dislike, by the way). The difference lies in the fact that in this book, the terminally ill character opts for euthanasia. Don’t worry, I have not given out any spoilers, as this is something you learn on the very first page of the book.
Euthanasia is a very serious topic to write about. It is a serious issue, and it brings up the whole right v/s wrong question. But, this book does not talk about it in detail. The character commits suicide when she is unable to go on with her life. The book does not clarify if she approached her doctors about euthanasia, or she simply decided she would be denied, so took up the task of ending her own life.
Almost half the book (up to chapter 12 to be precise) talks about how great their relationship was. It was highly romanticized and the author has tried to project their relationship as “perfect”. The author showers a lot of praise on his Jemma, but in places it sounds too sugary or sentimental. It almost sounds like it should have been called How Angels Die: A Justification. Since this is non-fiction, and we’re talking about the author’s dead lover here, it is a little difficult for me to look at it objectively. If the author wishes to remember Jemma as perfect, it would be unfair to disrespect or tarnish that memory.
In all honesty, the one page dedicated to Guy’s brother was far more heartbreaking than Jemma’s story. In a few words, he fitted the brief life that his brother lived, and it was truly sad. Perhaps, his and Jemma’s story should have been served like that. Condensed. Using up only the pages it needs. However, there are so many sentences that get repeated about death and thoughts about death etc. that their relevance gets lost in the number of times you read them. Add to that the large font, and you just get the feeling that pages are being filled here.
I noticed a  few typos (“walked passed” for instance) but nothing too alarming.
This is no literary masterpiece. This is a simple, straightforward, sentimental story of a guy narrating the story of how the person whom he loved the most killed herself when life became unbearable. When you first read about Guy’s desire to die at the age of 37, out of his own selfish reasons, you do feel he’s wasting his gift. It isn’t a moral thing. You just don’t understand why anyone would be so selfish as to want to die so that they don’t have to see old age and its troubles. But Guy does not go through with this plan. And explaining why he did not is how this book begins. If you’re interested you can buy it by clicking on the link below:
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My rating: 2/5

PS: I got a paperback copy of this book for review from Waldorf Publishing.