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Thread: Review of "Outsider"

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    Review of "Outsider"

    I read a review of The Outsider by Stephen King. Sorry, don't have the link handy, but you can find it by doing a Google news search (as of when I did the search, there was only one review).

    What I read seemed on the mark: per the review, apparently the author was disappointed that it wasn't a mystery with no supernatural overtones. The review stated that having the story turn into a battle with a monster, while not something we wouldn't naturally assume from King, weakened the book. In other words, have it be some weird locked-door type of detective tale that would keep readers guessing.

    I sort of get that. It probably would have been better as just a mystery story. Here's a specific point: apparently there is a prosecutor who wants to progress in the system by becoming a star from putting the innocent protagonist on trial. The prosecutor goes so far, according to the review, as to basically dismissing the great alibi -- three colleagues with the guy on some trip, with a video to prove what is being stated as an alibi. It made me think that maybe a conspiracy story would have been better. Imagine getting to that part about the alibi and the video has suddenly gone missing and the three colleagues say, no, we were never with him. That would have made the story exciting. It could have turned out that the prosecutor was just trying to manufacture a case against someone to climb the system's ladder. Maybe the man goes to prison, and when he gets out, it becomes a revenge tale (the protagonist could say "I did time with no crime attached; since I did the time, I am owed a crime"). Of course, maybe such a plotline has already been done.

    I still want to read this, but the review specifically pointed out that the first couple hundred pages is mostly procedural; then, the supernatural kicks in. That deters me. Nevertheless, I think I will win out in the end and read it (I hope; no guarantees).

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ123 View Post
    I read a review of The Outsider by Stephen King. Sorry, don't have the link handy, but you can find it by doing a Google news search (as of when I did the search, there was only one review).

    What I read seemed on the mark: per the review, apparently the author was disappointed that it wasn't a mystery with no supernatural overtones. The review stated that having the story turn into a battle with a monster, while not something we wouldn't naturally assume from King, weakened the book. In other words, have it be some weird locked-door type of detective tale that would keep readers guessing.

    I sort of get that. It probably would have been better as just a mystery story. Here's a specific point: apparently there is a prosecutor who wants to progress in the system by becoming a star from putting the innocent protagonist on trial. The prosecutor goes so far, according to the review, as to basically dismissing the great alibi -- three colleagues with the guy on some trip, with a video to prove what is being stated as an alibi. It made me think that maybe a conspiracy story would have been better. Imagine getting to that part about the alibi and the video has suddenly gone missing and the three colleagues say, no, we were never with him. That would have made the story exciting. It could have turned out that the prosecutor was just trying to manufacture a case against someone to climb the system's ladder. Maybe the man goes to prison, and when he gets out, it becomes a revenge tale (the protagonist could say "I did time with no crime attached; since I did the time, I am owed a crime"). Of course, maybe such a plotline has already been done.

    I still want to read this, but the review specifically pointed out that the first couple hundred pages is mostly procedural; then, the supernatural kicks in. That deters me. Nevertheless, I think I will win out in the end and read it (I hope; no guarantees).
    I have not read any comprehensive reviews but I have read multiple things that refer to it as a procedural crime story. I plan to begin reading it on day of release.

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    You'll certainly get to the book before I do -- please let us know how it was, or even how it is going in the early stages, when you acquire it. I think the next book I am going to read will be the Bentley Little collection that is soon to arrive...

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    I didn't have a great deal of interest to begin with, and now that I understand it has some connection to the Bill Hodges trilogy which I've not yet read I have even less. As well, the fact that it appears to be a procedural with all-too visible seams of supernatural content doesn't help -- I actually enjoy hybrids of genres, seamless blendings of fantastical tropes, but not two halves just hammered together -- nor does King's recent injection of sociopolitical agendas into his work.

    I don't know what kind of novel I'm waiting for King to write that will reignite that interest I regained in his work with 11/22/62, JOYLAND, and (to a somewhat lesser degree) UNDER THE DOME but fizzled with the Hodges trilogy, REVIVAL, and SLEEPING BEAUTIES...but I don't think THE OUTSIDER is it.

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonClinton View Post
    I didn't have a great deal of interest to begin with, and now that I understand it has some connection to the Bill Hodges trilogy which I've not yet read I have even less. As well, the fact that it appears to be a procedural with all-too visible seams of supernatural content doesn't help -- I actually enjoy hybrids of genres, seamless blendings of fantastical tropes, but not two halves just hammered together -- nor does King's recent injection of sociopolitical agendas into his work.

    I don't know what kind of novel I'm waiting for King to write that will reignite that interest I regained in his work with 11/22/62, JOYLAND, and (to a somewhat lesser degree) UNDER THE DOME but fizzled with the Hodges trilogy, REVIVAL, and SLEEPING BEAUTIES...but I don't think THE OUTSIDER is it.
    I really enjoyed the Bill Hodges Trilogy and am looking forward to this one.

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    Senior Member 1st Electroshock Session bsaenz24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    I really enjoyed the Bill Hodges Trilogy and am looking forward to this one.
    I liked the first two Hodges books. I couldn't really get into the third.

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    Is this part of the Hodges trilogy? I believe it is not, but maybe I am incorrect.

    Ron, maybe what we need from King is something along the lines of Thinner -- a quick, efficient three-hundred-pager focusing on plot. I'd also love more collections of stories and novellas.

    I love King's work. But I seemed to have more time for it when I was younger, which is actually quite an obvious observation, I suppose. Now, as I get older and have less time to do stuff, I sort of want faster reads in terms of page count. King's character development, while some of the best in the business, takes up space that could be devoted to plot. I recently read Limitless, the book that the movie was based on (with B. Cooper) and which had another title before the movie was released, and I remember thinking that it would be great if King started concentrating on books like that. Thinner is an example to which I always return when mentioning what efficient-King looks like. That, and Misery, I suppose. Revival is arguably along the lines of what I am talking about, that title had a good premise and it wasn't overly long, certainly. Also, would not mind seeing a novella sequel to It....
    Last edited by JJ123; 05-17-2018 at 06:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ123 View Post
    Is this part of the Hodges trilogy? I believe it is not, but maybe I am incorrect.
    My understanding is that it is a standalone work, but set in the Hodges "world" and features a character(s?) from the trilogy. I haven't read the trilogy -- just browsed each book to some degree @ the bookstore shelf -- so can't comment too knowledgably...but that's the info that I've read elsewhere.

    Ron, maybe what we need from King is something along the lines of Thinner -- a quick, efficient three-hundred-pager focusing on plot. I'd also love more collections of stories and novellas.
    I agree that King's self-labeled "elephantitis" style of writing no longer holds the lure for me that it did in my younger days, when I had more time and, as well, mental focus and patience for such works. That said, though, I don't think length is the best determinate for quality...for example, I *loved* the massive 11/22/63 just as much, if not more, than the much slimmer JOYLAND, and while I was surprisingly disappointed by BLAZE, the much larger UNDER THE DOME was generally a fun read. I do wish he would write more books like THINNER and MISERY, two books that I loved, but I don't think it was length alone that made them special...look at books like THE SHINING and 'SALEM'S LOT, two thick books that are just as compelling as the former slimmer two. Even midsize books are no safe harbor...just look at the profound disappointment that was DR. SLEEP, while FULL DARK, NO STARS was quite good.

    King, for me, is a progressively uneven writer, and I suppose that's why I don't get too excited anymore when a new work is announced...my Constant Reader membership has long since lapsed. That's not to say that there will no longer be new books of his I'll enjoy -- quite the contrary, I'm sure -- but rather that too many disappointments over the last couple of decades simply means that I approach each new release with a healthy dollop of skepticism, and it's skepticism that has served me and my wallet fairly well...and, thus far, THE OUTSIDER just isn't passing the sniff test. However, if reviews are glowing and suggest my intuition is wrong, I'll gladly give it another look.

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ123 View Post
    Is this part of the Hodges trilogy? I believe it is not, but maybe I am incorrect.

    Ron, maybe what we need from King is something along the lines of Thinner -- a quick, efficient three-hundred-pager focusing on plot. I'd also love more collections of stories and novellas.

    I love King's work. But I seemed to have more time for it when I was younger, which is actually quite an obvious observation, I suppose. Now, as I get older and have less time to do stuff, I sort of want faster reads in terms of page count. King's character development, while some of the best in the business, takes up space that could be devoted to plot. I recently read Limitless, the book that the movie was based on (with B. Cooper) and which had another title before the movie was released, and I remember thinking that it would be great if King started concentrating on books like that. Thinner is an example to which I always return when mentioning what efficient-King looks like. That, and Misery, I suppose. Revival is arguably along the lines of what I am talking about, that title had a good premise and it wasn't overly long, certainly. Also, would not mind seeing a novella sequel to It....
    I have read that it is a standalone book with a 'familiar' character. I have also heard speculation that it may be a character from The Hodges trilogy but believe that is speculation due to the nature of the story. No idea if it is true or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmaduke Grigsby View Post
    But does it have a character we would know from the Hodges trilogy?

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    Senior Member 1st Rubber Room Confinement Brian861's Avatar
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    Show this note in the SK Newsletter. I wonder if the publisher is doing away with BCE of his future works. Been a member of the club for years and they were always my reading copies.

    The Stephen King Library

    THE OUTSIDER will not be available through The Stephen King Library or any of Bookspan's clubs, and neither will any Stephen King books coming down the foreseeable road. Stephen King Library members should get their books for future releases elsewhere and by other means.

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian861 View Post
    Show this note in the SK Newsletter. I wonder if the publisher is doing away with BCE of his future works. Been a member of the club for years and they were always my reading copies.

    The Stephen King Library

    THE OUTSIDER will not be available through The Stephen King Library or any of Bookspan's clubs, and neither will any Stephen King books coming down the foreseeable road. Stephen King Library members should get their books for future releases elsewhere and by other means.
    King posted this information on Twitter. I have never looked in the Stephen King Library but wonder what the reason for the change is.

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Started listening to 'The Outsider' this morning. About 45 minutes in it has started off great. Basic murder mystery so far with a compelling start. No characters from prior work yet. Will Patton narrates this one, he is also the narrator for the Hodges trilogy but so far is does not distract from the story. He is a great narrator.

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    That's good to hear (about it starting off well). I saw King on the morning CBS show, via YouTube (thank you, corporate synergy) and I'm starting to feel a bit more excited about the book. I so much wish they would consult fans for some better questions (and he only gets five minutes? Does he pre-tape this kind of visit or is it live? Would assume satellite would be easier.).


    Now, am I nuts, but isn't The Outsider a similar concept to The Dark Half? It's been a while since I've read the latter, but weren't there fingerprints/etc. tying Thad something or other to the crimes committed by the doppelganger in that tome? I say this because that would have been an interesting point to question King on. I don't mean that he should be accused of repeating himself, I mean to say it would be fascinating to hear from him how he feels the two books compare, and how he evolved the concept. Also, for those who remember this, King said he felt Half finally worked as a story once the sparrows concept came together...what turned out to be the "sparrows" for Outsider? No one seems to be mentioning Half, but I haven't read of lot of reviews yet. I also would have loved to hear when he started the book, how long it took to write it, etc. We really need better questions during these interviews.

    One cool thing in the interview: he mentioned Poe's William Wilson. Been a while since I read that, but I was never sure if the doppelganger in that story was real or existed only in the imagination of the protagonist....

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    I started reading Stephen King sometime in the late 70's. I have read most of what he has written. I have read stories that helped shape what I read and how I think about stories (The Stand, It, 11/22/63) and stories that I simply did not care for (Rose Madder, Under The Dome). So forty years later I still buy Mr. Kings books on day of release and I usually start reading them the same day. Today I actually bought two versions, the audible audio and a hardbound. I was able to listen to the first quarter of the book today and found myself in a very comfortable place. There is simply something about Mr. Kings writing that works for me.

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    Senior Member Totally Insane Martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ123 View Post
    That's good to hear (about it starting off well). I saw King on the morning CBS show, via YouTube (thank you, corporate synergy) and I'm starting to feel a bit more excited about the book. I so much wish they would consult fans for some better questions (and he only gets five minutes? Does he pre-tape this kind of visit or is it live? Would assume satellite would be easier.).


    Now, am I nuts, but isn't The Outsider a similar concept to The Dark Half? It's been a while since I've read the latter, but weren't there fingerprints/etc. tying Thad something or other to the crimes committed by the doppelganger in that tome? I say this because that would have been an interesting point to question King on. I don't mean that he should be accused of repeating himself, I mean to say it would be fascinating to hear from him how he feels the two books compare, and how he evolved the concept. Also, for those who remember this, King said he felt Half finally worked as a story once the sparrows concept came together...what turned out to be the "sparrows" for Outsider? No one seems to be mentioning Half, but I haven't read of lot of reviews yet. I also would have loved to hear when he started the book, how long it took to write it, etc. We really need better questions during these interviews.

    One cool thing in the interview: he mentioned Poe's William Wilson. Been a while since I read that, but I was never sure if the doppelganger in that story was real or existed only in the imagination of the protagonist....
    I am only a quarter way into The Outsider and it has been many years since I read The Dark Half but I do not see a similarity in the stories.

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