Before we begin, I feel I need to state a few things. Over the course of the next few months you will see reviews from people who thought this book was "just okay". You will see reviews from people who are only reading it so that they will be able to hate-review it and they want a clean conscience, so they will finish it even though the experience will be on par with stomach swelling and labor pains when not pregnant. Then you will read fan reviews wherein this is touted as the mostest bestest thing since Adam and Eve finally realized what that swelling between Adam's legs was good for. Every one of those reviews will be correct. From the one-star to the five-but-wish-they-could-give-it-a-million-stars reviews. Because they will be those people's subjective opinions. Let's all try and respect each other, because the last time, when I reviewed Mr. Mercedes, motherfuckers went crazy trying to tell me how wrong I was to give it five stars. I gave it five stars because I fucking loved that book. (Read my review for why.) Do I care if you thought it was tedious or cliched or predictable? Probably not. It's your party and you can cry if you want to. I had fun. Fucking sue me. If you want to have a respectable discussion about this book's flaws, by all means, let's do that, but don't come into my house and bitch about the carpet. Motherfucker, it's my carpet. You don't have to walk on it.
Now comes the subjective opinion. Are we cool? Good. Let's do this.
Underneath the thriller plot, Finders Keepers is a nod to book lovers. King delves into his own history to create John Rothstein, right down to the moleskin ledgers King wrote in after his accident in 1999. Dreamcatcher was written entirely by longhand in such ledgers because it hurt King too badly to sit at his desk and type. There are other parallels between King and Rothstein, such as, King has said in interviews that he can see himself retiring from the public eye and no longer publishing books and stories, but goes on to say that he will never stop writing. I'm afraid that King is also giving us a hint with his own trilogy. Be prepared, folks. Just like the make-believe John Rothstein dropped out of the public eye after the Jimmy Gold trilogy, we might see King simply take a bow and step off stage. "Been fun, Constant Reader, now kindly take a long fuck off a short pier." I wouldn't put it past Uncle Stevie. He's been playing this game for over four decades. The only hope I hold out is that King and Straub have promised a third Jack Sawyer novel, so we still have that to look forward to after the conclusion of this series. Just theories, folks. I'm a nerd, it's what I do.
Now, about the book. Finders Keepers is a mixed bag of awesome and awful. You will encounter everything you love and everything you hate about Stephen King. If you're looking for horror, there are several scenes that will jiggle and arouse your tender bits. These scenes are at times subtle and creepy, and at other times bloody and brutal. If you want character development, Pete and Morris will wet your whistle, but the rest of the gang is as static as cryogenically-frozen concrete statues. Bill, Holly, and Jerome play their roles, and that's it. Holly is still my fave of the bunch, but only because I'm a bit OCD. (Have you seen my book collection?)
Most thrillers mix character building, the setting up of plot, and action in equal amounts. King didn't get this memo. The book starts with character development on par with some of King's best work, then devolves into tedious plot setup with little to no action. You can feel King trying to make the shit in the middle interesting, but there's not much going on. He has to get certain characters into the path of other characters and, honestly, it's just fucking boring to read about. The same set-up occurs in Mr. Mercedes, down to the car ride to the showdown.
But, despite the heavy, languid middle, the book does pick up speed again, and ends quite satisfactorily for my tastes. Plenty of "Oh shit!" and "Holy fuck!" moments for me.
If you're an audiobook fan, you should know that WIll Patton is as terrific as always. I hopped back and forth between ebook and audio, but I think I prefered the audio to the text. Something about Patton, man. He just does it for me. Love how he reads Holly.
One final note: Does anyone else not give a single fuck about Hodges? Like, I actually started disliking the book when he was reintroduced, and I can't think of one of his chapters that I actually liked. I thought Pete was awesome and Morris was disturbing and Holly was epic, but Hodges... Man, I don't give a squirt of piss for him and I hope he dies in the final book. Let that pacemaker give out. Whatever. The worst part is, friends and neighbors, I have no idea why I feel this way. I simply do not like the guy.
In summation: I give the book five stars for the first 35%, three stars for the middle 30%, and four stars for the race to the finish. Overall, four stars. I didn't enjoy it as much as Mr Mercedes, and I do not believe the ending ratcheted up the stakes far enough.
Final Judgment: Better than a hatchet to the ass and worse than a trunk fulla booty.