Stephen King, Later (2021)

Stephen King is a late discovery of mine (after I went past snobbish prejudices, I must confess) and I have no problem saying aloud that I love his writing so much… Yet there’s a catch: the size of his books. I’m always hesitant to commit to a chunkster of 500+ pages, even if I know that those pages will fly (or maybe because of it, I know that it will make me read into the night for far too long)

Later is the perfect book of the perfect size. The narrator is Jamie, a teen with a snarky voice and some unusual skills. The kind of skills that make you shiver: from his childhood on he has been able to see dead people. He sees them, is able to talk to them and hear them talk. Yes, à la Sixth Sense, but without Bruce Willis. And King is clever enough to make Jamie aware of the reference and roll his eyes. His childhood has been rather sheltered, with a single mother working as a publisher in New York city. But then as he grows up things get difficult and Jamie’s life is thrown in turmoil, even without his special skills.

I loved Jamie’s voice, and I loved that the coming-of-age story mostly takes the precedence over the supernatural. Until… I love that Jamie takes everything in stride, the cool and the sad, the mundane and the horrific. He’s a caring teenager, and I totally believed in his character, even when King takes the story into crazy, over-the-top directions (that I won’t spoil).

There are many unexplained things in the story itself, but I have one practical question: why is this book published in a collection called Hard Case Crime? The 1970s cover art is very cool, but also quite misleading. Jamie is born around 2000 I guess, as he remembers the 2008 financial crisis. The book is a mix between horror, thriller, fantasy perhaps? But a crime mystery it is definitely not.

3 thoughts on “Stephen King, Later (2021)

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