My ‘King of the month’ for May was Gerald’s Game
Once again, Jessie Burlingame has been talked into submitting to her husband Gerald’s kinky sex games—something that she’s frankly had enough of, and they never held much charm for her to begin with. So much for a “romantic getaway” at their secluded summer home. After Jessie is handcuffed to the bedposts—and Gerald crosses a line with his wife—the day ends with deadly consequences. Now Jessie is utterly trapped in an isolated lakeside house that has become her prison—and comes face-to-face with her deepest, darkest fears and memories. Her only company is that of the various voices filling her mind…as well as the shadows of nightfall that may conceal an imagined or very real threat right there with her…
This is the first time I picked up a Stephen King book having absolutely no idea what to expect. I was worried it’d be some warped horror-erotica novel – thankfully it wasn’t! What I found in Gerald’s Game was a story of suspense, with some real great parts to the plot, and some not so much…
Where I think this novel succeeded was that much of it took place in exactly the same location, it reminded me of Misery in that aspect. With no change of scenery, King managed to have me invested in this novel, the fate of Jessie. Let me tell you, I can name no other author who had me holding my breath, praying that a character would reach a glass of water – I was emotionally invested, the glass must not smash, come on Jessie, you can do it! So love or hate this novel, there’s no denying King’s ability to draw the reader in!
However, where this novel didn’t succeed for me was in the memory recall aspect. Throughout the novel, Jessie recalled trauma from her childhood, and this should have been the emotional aspect [not the glass of water incident], but it wasn’t, it just read so blasély, like the author didn’t care, so why should I? Yes, there was an element of Jessie being detached from the memory, but at the same time, certain trauma, if not all trauma, needs to be written with intention, with meaning, not in the unconnected way this was.
There were elements of true horror in this novel, which is what you want when you pick up a King novel, those moments of classic horror. They worked well with the suspense to keep the momentum going, and while this novel wouldn’t be in my top King recommendations, it’s not in my least favourite Kings either.
The ending of this one was a bit too random for my liking, it truly felt like an error in printing, and the ending from another novel was mistakenly added to this one. It’s bizarre because the ending was really good, had it been part of another novel with a relevant story before it. I think this highlights that King can write extremely well but this novel was just so disjointed – the ending, and the characters introduced at the end, felt like they belonged in The Stand, and I just couldn’t understand the elaborate ending attached to the simpler plot.
As many of you know, I’m working my way through King’s entire library, and while this isn’t one I’ll likely reread, or be rushing to recommend, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from picking it up either. As mentioned there were some elements to this one that worked extremely well, but I can’t ignore the strong elements that caused this one to fall flat in places.