#Review #3stars Apt Pupil, by Stephen King

MY REVIEW 3 stars:

I’m actually reading the full Different Seasons set, but I feel like these ‘short stories’ aren’t really short at all, and that they need separate reviews of their own to compile once the set is finished -then average the rating. I struggled to decide on a rating for Apt Pupil. I was actually quite engaged and sucked in, part of me wanted to give it a four.

But, at the same time it’s just too twisted in a real way to give it that. Too many people, and I’m talking millions, lost their lives with such torture to write this kind of a story, and actually claim it to have taste. So, ultimately, I settled on a three. It’s like a train wreck that you just can’t look away from, but then you go straight to the shower and wash off after wishing you could scrub it all away from your brain too.

Todd is a high school student with straight A’s and a obviously successful future ahead of him. His family has money and are very caring and involved in Todd’s life. He really was just born right into the American formula of success. However, his mind isn’t exactly pure. He has dark thoughts, desires, and obsesses about murder and death. In fact, as he grows into a maturing body he finds that his darkest of thoughts are actually what gets him off. When Todd meets Dussander, a nasty old Nazi who has been in hiding for decades, his dark thoughts veer to reality. Dussander ran a concentration camp and killed thousands of people. At first Todd claims to tend to Dussander, he tells him parents that he’s reading to the old man down the road because he’s blind and needs help with yard and housework – like job. In reality, he’s there to learn all about Dussander’s past and killings. He likes it, and it sparks something dark inside of him.

After time, the stories and the connection grows into something more. It pulls Dussander back to his old self and after cooking a live animal in his stove and pretending to be Todd’s grandpa to get him out of a jam at school – Dussander his found his strength to kill once more. That’s not all though – Todd has found a spark of his own. During a family vacation he comes across a drunken homeless man – or wineo as they call them in the book. Todd lets his desires take ahold him and the predator within becomes all he is and all that he knows. His parents and friends are completely blind to it, but Dussander can see right through Todd – as he understands it all to well.

What’s interesting about this book is that Todd and Dussander are constantly in a battle with one another. There’s a love hate connection, like a mirror staring back at one another. Each one loathes themselves and loathes one another as well, yet for some reason they always seem to have each other’s back. Dussander never calls Todd by his name, it’s always just ‘the boy’ – like he’s unable to connect with any other human on a real emotional level. Todd is constantly wanting to kill the old man, yet he just can’t do it. It’s a weird relationship that they have, and the dynamics of it really draws out the sociopathic layers. I’m a real sucker for psychological books and this one has really nailed it!! However, like I said before the connection of it to real life and factual genocide in history just makes me sick. 3 stars for me.


#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King’s timeless coming-of-age novella, Apt Pupil—published in his 1982 story collection Different Seasons and made into a 1998 Tristar movie starring Ian McKellan and Brad Renfro—now available for the first time as a standalone publication.

If you don’t believe in the existence of evil, you have a lot to learn.

Todd Bowden is an apt pupil. Good grades, good family, a paper route. But he is about to meet a different kind of teacher, Mr. Dussander, and to learn all about Dussander’s dark and deadly past…a decades-old manhunt Dussander has escaped to this day. Yet Todd doesn’t want to turn his teacher in. Todd wants to know more. Much more. He is about to face his fears and learn the real meaning of powerand the seductive lure of evil.

A classic story from Stephen King, Apt Pupil reveals layers upon layers of deception—and horror—as finally there is only one left standing.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ll be sure to give this one a miss!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s definitely a skip over 😬

      Liked by 1 person

    2. HI Liz, this story is absolutely awful. I couldn’t finish it. Didi did a good job with her review.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yikes, the dreaded DNF!

        Liked by 1 person

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