Now that I’ve stopped weeping like child at a funeral, I believe I can review this one as well as speculate on the future of Stephen King’s career. Let’s do this.
To the surprise of some, I was a huge fan of Mr. Mercedes. The book was fresh, a nice change of direction, and it showed King’s love for the craft. Trying something so different so late in life must have been scary fun. Finders Keepers was pretty good, too, but I thought it occasionally missed the mark. With End of Watch, I feel the series as a whole is a must-read experience, as each book compliments the next. This final novel in the Bill Hodges trilogy is my favorite of the bunch, but I don’t think that would’ve been the case without the other two books. While I gave Mr. Mercedes five stars and Finders Keepers four, I would give this final book, and the series as a whole, a perfect score.
But I cannot help but think that Revival is the final standalone King book we will receive. For a detailed list of the evidence I have to back up this claim (all speculation, mind you, but nonetheless thought provoking), please see the Spoiler Discussion section at the end of this review. I feel that we have one more King novel to look forward to, though: the final Jack Sawyer novel, which was, according to both Peter Straub and King himself, started in 2005. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that book is done and awaiting publication. These are just theories folks. No one would be happier than I to find years’ worth of King books still to come.
I will make note of four things I particularly loved about this last novel:
1. I actually came to like Det. Ret. Kermit William Hodges. It only took three books, but I did eventually come to like him. I’m sure that now, if I were to reread them, I would more than likely enjoy his presence in the previous novels more the second time around.
2. Holly is not only one of my favorite characters in this series, but one of my favorite characters ever to grace the pages of a book. And I mean any book. Her idiosyncrasies remind me of someone I’ve lived with all my life.
3. Theme. This book is heavy on theme: friendship, loss, a well-lived life, and the difference between letting go and giving up.
4. The ending is one of strongest endings King has ever written. Period. The ending of the novel brings the entire series full circle. I love a well-designed story and for the punishment to fit the crime.
And that’s it. That’s all I can say here without giving away some major plot points.
In summation: A fantastic ending to a great trilogy whose sum is greater than its parts. As cliched as it is, I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t want it to end. My only regret is that I read it so damn fast. Now what am I supposed to do?
Final Judgment: A fitting farewell.
Spoiler Discussion: Wherein I spoil Mr. Mercedes, End of Watch, and Joe Hill’s The Fireman, along with a minor spoiler for a story in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Here is all the evidence I have compiled to support my theory that this or the final Jack Sawyer novel will be King’s last published works:
1. In an interview with Bryant Gumbel during the book tour for Dreamcatcher (this was two years after King was run over and almost killed by a speeding van), King told Gumbel that he could see himself retiring from publishing but he would never stop writing. Finders Keepers is about an author who who does just that. In another interview, this one after the publication of Under the Dome, King told the interviewer thatUnder the Dome and one more book, that one about JFK, were two stories he’d always wanted to tell but never got around to writing. Seeing that we finally got to read 11/22/63 after decades of the story marinating in King’s head, I feel that he’s done everything he’s put off. He’s all caught up. Hell, he even managed to finish the Dark Tower series. Nothing left now but the final Jack Sawyer novel, which Straub and King have been working on since 2005.
2. In Joe Hill’s The Fireman, we see the death of a character known as Father Storey. Not only that, but the entire book is littered with Easter eggs for Stephen King’s work and not Hill’s, making me think that The Fireman serves as a passing of the torch from father to son.
3. The story at the end of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is about the end of the world. The novel to follow that collection is this book, End of Watch. That’s an awful lot of rumination on the end of things for my liking. And seeing Hodges die at this end of this one does not give me high hopes for King’s future. I’m not saying he’s sick, but it sure feels like something might be wrong.
4. End of Watch is about a life well lived and letting go. Saying goodbye is a major theme of the book.
No one would miss King more than I, but I can’t help but to see signs everywhere. I really hope I’m wrong. I truly do.
Thanks for hanging around, Constant Reader.
*hugs and high fives*