Monday, December 5, 2011

Blaze (Richard Bachman/Stephen King) Book Review

I've read every single Stephen King book published. But somehow I missed Blaze, a book written under his pen name, Richard Bachman. How, I'll never know. But I found it looking through used books recently and I said to myself, "Wait... I've never read this!" So, I picked it up and I read it.

By King's own admission in the book's intro he never meant for this novel to see the light of day. He calls it a "trunk novel," and, for many years, it actually sat in a trunk. It was written in 1972 but wasn't published until 2007! This supports my theory that we'll have new Stephen King novels 20 years after the man is dead.

Anyway, I actually thought Blaze was an okay book. It was certainly a quick read and the plot moved forward quickly. Essentially, Blaze is the name of a man who is mentally retarded. He was taken under the wing of a con-man and used in the con-man's schemes but then the con-man dies, leaving Blaze all alone in the world. Blaze's only hope for a happy ending is to successfully kidnap a rich family's young baby and ask for a ransom. He does this, but everything doesn't go as he planned...

The novel is told in alternating chapters - one in modern day (that is, 1972 modern day), the next in Blaze's formative years. While I didn't mind this, I sometimes wanted to skip over the childhood stuff, especially since most of the time it didn't directly impact what was happening in the modern story.

King does a good job of making Blaze a sympathetic character. This novel isn't so much a story as it is a character study. What makes a man do something do desperate?

I also liked that it remained a realistic fiction story, not fantasy like so many of King's novels. Sure, Blaze hears his dead friend's voice in his head but that's all he remains - a voice in Blaze's head. No ghosts or zombies in this novel!

Overall, it's an enjoyable, quick read that kept me turning the pages to see if Blaze would blindly stumble upon success or the inevitable failure.

1LR Rating - 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

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