Reviews

King, Stephen: End of Watch (2016)

Before the promised favourite books fun can begin, there’s one more thing I need to do and that’s review the last part of Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy.

I already reviewed part one and two. Here are the links in case you missed them:

King, Stephen: Mr. Mercedes (2014)

King, Stephen: Finders Keepers (2015)

If you read those reviews, you’ll know that I wasn’t very convinced by the two novels and that I basically only even picked up part two because of a long standing compulsion to finish what I started. Unfortunately this compulsion does not exactly reach into all areas of my life*, but it definitely affects my reading. There are very few books that I started and never finished. Tristram Shandy is one example, and I’m already anticipating that A Brief History of Seven Killings (at over 700 pages definitely not what I’d call ‘brief’!) will become a member in this exclusive club of books very soon.

*I wish it would, finishing my essays and term papers would have been so much easier and less stressful – and don’t even get me started on my MA thesis!

Anyway, the Bill Hodges trilogy is different from the abovementioned examples because part one and two weren’t exactly unreadable – they just made me cringe a little for various reasons, one of which is probably that Stephen King’s brand of weird takes some getting used to.

I don’t know if it’s because I finally accepted the weirdness and was therefore able to dive headfirst into it, but part three was actually a lot more enjoyable than its predecessors. That it is still very much a Stephen King novel becomes clear if we look at some of King’s most iconic tropes and try to find them in the novel. There are plenty!

Since I spent a delightful girls’ night watching Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher (which should really be called Shitweasels – would be less of a case of false advertising that way!) last week, I feel like looking at End of Watch through Stephen King drinking game goggles. The game has been around for a while now and can be found here.


…naturally there will be some spoilers from this point forward. If you plan on reading the novel for yourself, I recommend you check out the link to the drinking game so you can keep score while you’re reading. Then obviously come back here once you finished the novel so we can compare notes. 😉


Clear? Clear. So here goes:

 

If End of Watch was a drinking game

(Drinking criteria are in boldface, those that apply to End of Watch are in colour)

  • An unexplained evil force without justification for its existence. Kinda. The evil force is human and there was an explanation, but it was sketchy at best.
    • Bonus points for this evil force being extradimensional. As in basic laws of physics are violated and common logic doesn’t apply.
  • A disabled child with magic powers. Disabled yes, child no.
    • Bonus points for those powers to be psychic.
  • The setting of the story taking place in Maine at some point. Hard to tell. The setting is definitely fictional – I doubt that there’s any real place where the rich conveniently all live in Sugar Heights while the poor waste away in Lowtown.
  • The setting of the story taking place in a rural small town at some point.
    • Bonus points if the seemingly normal small town hides horrible secrets.
  • An antagonist without any redeeming qualities. Check my review of Mr Mercedes if you don’t believe me.
    • Bonus points if they’re childhood bullies. Killing your own brother counts as bullying, I’m pretty sure.
  • Details that teeter on the perverted. Teeter on…?
    • Bonus points if children are involved.
  • A racist remark.
  • An atheist.
  • Evil religious people espousing morality, especially when it comes to sex.
    • Said evil religious people die.
  • Flashbacks. 
  • Depraved Homosexuals. Bonus if they die.
  • Animals being hurt or killed.
  • A major character is either addicted to or recovering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
  • A major character is a writer/poet/storyteller.
    • Take an extra shot if it’s the main character.
  • A reference to a previous King work. It’s a trilogy, so there will obviously be references to part one and two…
    • Bonus points for a reference to multiple works. …which would add up to more than one, but I actually doubt that that’s what’s meant here.
    • Extra bonus if the work tries to refer to as many of King’s books as possible.
  • An Internal Monologue which devolves into Stream Of Consciousness.
  • A sociologist appears to tell us about the consequences of the disaster at hand.
    • The sociologist dies.
  • Gratuitous violence.
    • Bonus points for Body Horror.
    • Extra points for Eye Scream.
  • A cameo by King himself.
  • Obscenely brutal bullies, either currently affecting a character or in a character’s backstory.
    • Bonus points if being a bully is a part of the backstory of the villain (or one of them).
  • There is a cool older character that helps the main character in some way.
    • Bonus if they have psychic powers.
    • Extra bonus if they either die before or during the climax of the story, or are stated nonchalantly to have died after the main story has concluded itself.

That was fun! As you can see from the list, I’d be pretty wasted right now if I’d actually taken a shot for every coloured item. However, since actually reading the novel takes a lot longer than going through this list, this might be a game I want to keep in mind should I ever pick up another King novel in the future. The only problem is that I like to read on my commute and I think people would stare if I started doing shots on public transport at ten in the morning. Maybe this isn’t a good idea after all.^^

I don’t want to go into the plot, since that would take a while given that I’d have to explain the plot of part one and two first (although part two feels weirdly disconnected from part one and three!) and I also feel like I already gave away enough when I filled out the drinking game. However, I guess I still owe you a final verdict: Should you or should you not read this novel?

The answer is yes if you’ve already read part one and two. Firstly because part three is much better and more entertaining and secondly because that’s just the right thing to do in my opinion.

On the other hand, if you haven’t already started reading the trilogy, I’d give this one a pass. Not because End of Watch isn’t worth reading, but because you’d have to read through Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers first and in my opinion that would just be too much effort. I don’t even want to discuss the possibility of reading End of Watch as a stand-alone novel, but just in case you belong to this tribe of savage people who would just pick up the third part of a trilogy and call it a day, let me warn you: You’d have to at least read Mr Mercedes for the third novel to make sense. So: For all I care you can skip part two if you insist on being that kind of person, but please don’t skip part one.


Have you ever played the Stephen King drinking game – or something similar? 

I’m not sure I actually want to know the answer to that, but…have you ever read a trilogy / series in the wrong order / omitted parts of it? 😯

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