Saturday 18 April 2015

Mile 81

Mile 81 is a novella written by Stephen King that was originally published as an e-book. Most of its action takes place at an abandoned rest stop that is used mostly by high school kids who drink and smoke there. A mud covered (despite lack of rain in the area) station wagon pulls over in front of it. Its doors open but nobody gets out of the vehicle. It draws attention of a religious insurance man who sees it as his chance to be a Good Samaritan. He stops his car and approaches the wagon, not realizing that he's walking directly into the lion's den.

Mile 81 is a short and not a very complicated story. I enjoyed reading the opening section in which King presents the area as an essential part of the life of local youth. I like descriptions like these as they offer interesting insights into the lives of contemporary Americans. Reading about things that they take for granted is always interesting when you look at it from the European perspective. Unfortunately, it only gets worse as the action develops. The novella quickly starts to resemble a B-class horror movie with exaggerated, gory details and no real tension being built up. It feels like George A. Romero's vivid and slightly tacky horror flick and the ending also left me disappointed. The cast of a few characters that appear are flat and not memorable too.

King is a generally a very skilled writer when it comes to short stories and is normally able to come up with an intriguing tale that has interesting setting, round characters, and a solid plot. Here, however, he seems to be cutting corners, giving only basics and rushing towards the ending (which is not interesting too). It may be that I perceive this novella as inferior as the previous novel from King I read was "The Green Mile", which is by far one of his best works. Mile 81 definitely pales in comparison.

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