Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: "Mile 81" by Stephen King

Given Stephen King's penchant for 1000+-page novels, it was terrific to have a short story from him instead. Mile 81 is a short story released exclusively in e-book form, and it marks a return to the King of yesteryear, where "regular" people find themselves confronted with a completely horrifying situation.

At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded-up rest stop. One day, young Pete Simmons goes exploring there, to prove to his older brother and his friends that he's just as capable of being adventurous as they are. Armed with the magnifying glass he got for his 10th birthday, he finds the rest stop not quite all it's cracked up to be—just a place where teenagers go to drink, play cards and hook up. But then he finds a bottle of vodka, and drinks just enough to pass out. While he is sleeping, a mud-covered station wagon drives up to the rest stop (strange because it hasn't rained in Maine for more than a week) and stops. The doors open, yet no one seems to get out. Then the car's presence starts to attract a number of good samaritans driving along the highway, who don't realize quite where their good intentions will lead them...

This was an enjoyable short story, and it really did remind me of King's earlier work. As always, King excels at characterization, and really imbues each character with a great deal of life and detail in just a few pages. The problem is the story just wasn't as scary as I had hoped, and I felt like the ending was a little too pat. But for $2.99 on my Kindle, this story definitely was worth my time, plus it included a preview of his upcoming novel, 11/22/63.

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