Different Seasons is actually a set of four novellas. They are all so completely different. They don’t go together at all and most of them were long enough that they could totally have been their own separate book. I reviewed each of the four shorts separately and averaged my rating at a 4. Reviews:
This classic novella, to me, has a bit of a different feel to it than a lot of other King books. The pace, the impact, the calculation… really just all of it. There’s a sense of patience and buildup that has a sort of satisfaction to it. For the most part, King delivers that suspenseful shock factor, that’s different (often too wordy lol) and bold. However, in the Shawshank Redemption that shock factor isn’t so much of a surprise as a reward. It’s satisfying. I feel like you can end the book with a sigh and a smile, nod your head, maybe even have a glass of wine by your fireplace and offer up a toast to the thin air, naturally, as the MC practically disappeared into it.
I’m actually reading the whole Different Seasons set, so this review will be short and included in my overall review on the set.
Here’s a few things I love about it: The first person narration is told by the MC’s friend in prison. Which is awesome! King is a master wordsmith both in first and third person, but I tend to favor his first person writing style best. That said, this bite sized book is like the best of both worlds. You get to look into the life of prison escape artist Andy through the eyes of his friend so it offers an outside view, yet it’s narrated in a personal and more emotionally impactful way.
Prison life obviously isn’t easy in Shawshank, and the nastiness of it all isn’t sugar coated at all. Yet, Andy has a quiet sort of grit to him. He’s smart, patient and respectable. He makes a name for himself behind bars by helping the Warden and prison workers with their taxes and helping them with applications and other paperwork. He’s a skilled paper-pusher that winds up finding a way to expand the prison library and to win a room all to himself. Because of his approach to life behind bars, his quiet respectable nature and lack of trouble making Andy has the time and knowhow he needs to achieve the seemingly impossible. Not only that, but he makes friends with Red – the narrator – who is the guy who can “get things”.
Red has a cool way of observing the other inmates. They don’t mess with him, for the most part, because he’s their go-to guy for sneaking stuff into them. He’s also friendly and understanding to Andy. They really are both awesome, unforgettable, and unique characters. I watched the movie several years ago, and even though its been such a long time I still remember the story well. I enjoyed the movie then, and I loved the book now! 5 stars
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.
I vaguely remember watching Stand by Me as a kid – the movie based on this novella. It was kind of cool remembering bits and pieces of it while reading. All the impactful scenes, like the train stuff, the kid searching for pennies under the porch, the dog and the junk yard, and of course the body. I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic, which I can honestly say a King book has never done to me before. Even though so many of these scenes are so bothersome, and unsettling both in the book and the movie, they’re unforgettable.
The story line goes like this: A few friends, pre-teen to early teen, are a little on the wild side. There’s a kid who’s gone missing, and this little band of riff raff are certain they’ll know where to find the kids dead body. Unfortunately for them, they’re right. The journey is a life changing one in many ways and it makes for summer that they’ll never forget. The entire quest starts off with what the boys call a “goocher” when they flip coins to see who will break into the junkyard for certain supplies. Every single one of the coins land on tails, thus starting them out with a sense of doom and gloom – like something isn’t right.
From there they set out, knowing that the walk will take a couple days. They’ve set their stories in place so that their parents don’t expect them to be any further than one another’s houses and they brave the wild. They cross a railroad track bridge, have heart felt breakdowns, endure a vicious storm and more. When they reach their destination, the finding isn’t nearly as cool and interesting as they anticipated it be. It’s heart wrenching and real, and it settles all the way to their bones leaving the them humbled and changed. This isn’t exactly the end of the road for them, as they still have more instore.
As a parent, it’s hard to read a lot of this book, as way too much of it is just devastating to imagine and all too unsettling. The hardships, and realities of wrongful death revolves completely around incent children. Because of this line that’s too very unsettling to cross, I find myself knocking it down a point. As well as it’s written, and as engrossing as it is from beginning to end – I just can’t in good conscious give it a five. Too much of it was just to hard to digest for that.
This book is a part of the Different Seasons set. I’ll be reviewing each story separate and then including them all in my complete review of the set – rating an average overall. This one, for me is a 4.
The Breathing Method is the shortest story in the Different Seasons set by Stephen King. And by short I mean significantly shorter. I listened to the whole set on audio, usually on a fairly quick speed. This is the final story and I sneaky listened to the whole thing while I pretended to watch a movie with my kids. It’s odd, creepy, unsettling, and weird – classic King for sure.
It starts off with a lawyer and a quick rundown of his life’s story. Highlighting the happiness of his home life, along with his carrier and his lovely wife. As an old man, he manages to cross paths with an odd ol’ doctor in a very strange building. It switches stories, and the change was really confusing to me. The doctor tells his own story, so most of the book is a narration of the main character listening to this other guy’s story. It was kind of pointless to even have the first MC – like maybe the whole story should have just been the doctor’s story in the first place. I think the reasoning behind this switch was the building they’re in and the oddness of the whole situation.
The man who tells him his story was a General Practitioner in a time where women had certain expectations to men. They were expected to be married and serve their duty to their husbands. Having independence and children out of wedlock was highly frowned upon. He even refers to a pregnant woman’s body as an engine – kind of off putting. It’s strange to recognize that this gender stigmata was a reality as so much as changed in society – and thankfully so! Nonetheless, The Breathing Method highlights this way of life and time.
A young woman came into the doctor’s office, pregnant and brave. She was a reserved and respectable young woman who was determined to do right by her child – despite being wronged by the baby’s father and frowned upon by the community. The Doctor took a liking to her, he respected her and committed himself to help her through the journey. The girl had a sense that she was doomed for a terrible fate. She knew in her heart that the pregnancy would be the death of her, but not necessarily by means of childbirth. As badly as I want to talk about the ending, because wow – it really is intense and gory and nasty and shocking and really just has all the BANG that makes King a literary King…. I won’t give it away.
I could pick away at the sexism and the odd views of women all day. I could frown down at all the things that I don’t like about this tiny book cause there is plenty to bitch about, but I wont – because the ending really is good enough to render all those things mute. This nibble of a story dropped my jaw and for that I’m giving it five stars.
Includes the stories “The Body” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”—set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine
A “hypnotic” (The New York Times Book Review) collection of four novellas—including the inspirations behind the films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption—from Stephen King, bound together by the changing of seasons, each taking on the theme of a journey with strikingly different tones and characters.
This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.
Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town.
In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me.
Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”
“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,” hailed the Houston Chronicle about Different Seasons.