I’m really skeptical about books that EVERYONE loves. They usually don’t live up to the hype because I have high expectations when it comes to books. I can’t stand anything cheesy or poorly written. Not that everything has to be “literature,” but I don’t want a book that relies on tropes, flat characters, and poor storytelling. So many books out there fall into this category, but I was glad to see that this one didn’t. It might not be worth every bit of hype, but I really enjoyed it and thought the language was superb.
The story is told following a young girl, Kya, growing up in a marsh swamp in the 1950s, but also in 1969 after a death happens in her part of the swamp. As you watch Kya grow up, deal with one devastation after another, find her path in the world, you are also learning about the young man who died. Immediately, you wonder if it was an accident, suicide, or a murder, but the details are slowly revealed as the story unfolds.
The language of the book really is beautiful, and you grow to respect and admire Kya. She deals with more hardships than just about anyone, abandoned over and over by those who claim to love her, she fends for herself at a young age, and turns into an amazing woman. The descriptions of the marsh life- plants, animals, water, weather- are so enveloping that your senses are drawn into the story as well. I don’t know much about the marsh life of North Carolina, nor do I really have any desire to go there, but this book is the next best thing. I can see why this is a book many people want to read.
This book is one of the most controversial I’ve ever read. So much that it’s out of print and really difficult to find. There is a sneaky way to obtain a copy, which is what I did, but a first edition goes for thousands on eBay. Ages ago, the publishing world didn’t want to publish more than one book a year by a certain author. Stephen King was, and to this day still is, one of the most prolific authors out there, publishing about once every six months. When he first started, though, he was successful, but not enough for the publishers to take a chance on letting him release books twice a year. So, he figured out a way to cheat the system. He published books under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. He only wrote a handful before publishers realized what he was doing, saw he was successful no matter what name he published under, and decided to just let him write as much as he wanted. One of the books he published under this pseudonym was Rage, which King has since pulled from being published based on some very disturbing facts.
Rage is a first-person account of a teenager who commits a school shooting. King decided to let this book go out of print after it was found in the possession of some kids who did actual school shootings, well before Columbine, before the take off of the Internet, where content is unfiltered and as bad, if not worse than you could imagine. I’ve read a few disturbing stories about school shootings, namely We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I haven’t read one that was a first-person account, which made this book extremely difficult, and I can see why King has let it go out of print. You can still obtain it in a book called The Bachman Books, which is difficult to find, but not impossible. I got one at Half-Price Books.
I don’t really feel the need to discuss the plot of this book. A kid with a gun shoots some people. It’s horrifying, disturbing, and difficult to read. I don’t support censorship, but I do support an author having ownership over his/her own work. King did the right thing by pulling this book, and I’m proud of him for sticking with the decision after 20+ years.