The first time I read Desperation, I read it back to back with The Regulators in the fall 1996. Had I been reviewing in my teenage years, I probably would have given this two stars, and The Regulators four stars. The latter is a fun book from beginning to end, while Desperation takes off like a crackhead escaping police custody only to run out of steam about halfway to the sanctuary of his crack den. Sad Panda.
This read was a little bit better than the first because I was expecting the slow-as-mud, worship-ridden final 300 pages, so I'm giving it another star. Most of my problems with this book is personal. The God angle leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not a religious person, and for the most part, I don't get along with religious persons. I'm too fucking opinionated, and I'm notorious for flapping my jaws. Mostly because these are the people who laugh at me for believing in Santa Claus until I was 13 and don't see the irony in having a laugh at the hopeful child I once was. You can have your Land of Make-Believe, I have my own. So yeah, the Come to Jesus Parade isn't to my liking. Purely subjective. If you're rollin' holy, this is probably the King book for you.
Oh, and... Diablo Mine? Stephen, if you thought you were being subtle with the subtext, you failed. Tak!
Desperation is probably the closest thing to a horror novel King had written sinceNeedful Things, which was... seven books back, I think. In between you had books likeGerald's Game, Dolores Claiborne, The Green Mile, Rose Madder... you know, stuff like that. Not one of those books are what horror fans would call scary. They scared me, but I'm fucking strange. Desperation was a return to such balls-out terrors. You have a psycho cop who's not everything he seems. You have animals and the nastiest of insect life acting strangely. A haunted mine. Statues that make you wanna fuck people to death. You know, Disney type of shit. My point is, this book is brutal, and I loved that aspect.
Oddly enough, a miniscule - and I mean teensy-tiny - side character from Rose Madderhas a pretty substantial role in this book. That one still shocks me. I know full and well some characters come into our lives and refuse to leave, but I remember thinking andstill think Cynthia was the last person I expected to see within these pages. My favorite character above any other is Johnny Marinville, though. One of King's best characters, that one.
For tie-ins to the King-verse, click view spoiler, but please expect spoilers for ALL of King's work and not just this novel. Thank you.
In summation: Desperation is a fun ride for about 350 pages before taking a detour into Bible Country for the final 300 pages. If you're cool with that, you'll probably dig this battle between good and evil accessed by way of the loneliest highway in America.
Final Judgment: Is that a shotgun shell in your pocket or are you happy to have found Jesus?
(P.S. I won't be rereading The Regulators next. I know it sounds strange, but it's technically NOT a King novel. Yes, I know he's Richard Bachman too, you're not telling me anything I don't already know, but it's not MEANT to be a King book. I have my reasons, and I will explain them eventually. Promise.)