Friday, 29 May 2020

Review: Sleeping Beauties, by Owen King & Stephen King

Sleeping BeautiesSleeping Beauties by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can't settle on whether I should rate this a two or a three, so maybe a two and half would be more accurate.

Reading this book wasn't easy, I dragged myself through it as I don't believe in reviewing anything that I don't finish, so I insisted on finishing it, because I wanted others to not waste their time with it.

The only reason I can think that this book made it through is due to Owen King being son of Stephen King. If this book had been written by anyone else it wouldn't have been accepted for publication in its current form, a lot would have had to happen to it first. So I am disappointed with the editors that were thanked at the end of this book. I think they did a disservice to their profession - one I share as a developmental editor - and they sold out to sales over quality. Because by putting Stephen King's name on this book it guaranteed sales, so it didn't matter if it was edited well or not. And I am fairly confident there isn't much of Stephen King in this book, not much at all.

I am a Stephen King constant reader. I feel I know his writing and the first couple of hundred pages of this book read nothing like his style of writing, even down to the use of words. It felt like someone trying to copy his type of writing and approach to a story (switching between characters to show what is going on). There was a point in this book that it actually built some momentum and flowed for a while, maybe that was SK's influence or piece in it, but sadly it didn't last long.

As an editor there were entire chapters I would have cut out of this book. While reading it, there were entire sections that added nothing to the story at all and were just surplus to requirements. This book is a lesson in adding too much background information and information dumping, practises frowned on in the writing world. This 700 page novel could have come in at 3-400 pages and been a great, tight, read.

The general premise of the story is okay, but it failed in execution. Too many characters by far, so many unnecessary to the story and FAR too many brought in at the end. And within those characters, unnecessary interruptions in the story to tell the reader something completely irrelevant to the story about the character. I actually found myself skim reading, something I hate doing, and usually when I find myself doing that I stop reading a book, because for me it means I am no longer engaged in the story or interested in the characters. There were too many to care about, and there didn't need to be.

The story was also not resolved fully in any way - no explanation given as to the events of aurora or who Evie Black was. It seemed only to be used as some kind of platform to talk about men and women and how men might behave if women were gone (violent and irrational). It felt like a sort of apology to women, and what they have to put up with from men and living in a man's world, which I was fine with, but then towards the end it turned into a sort of man-hating narrative, which I don't agree with, and tried to use it as a reason for the story, but it didn't work well at all.

For me personally, Tommyknockers was the worst SK novel until now, as in that SK spends too much time on character backstory, but it wasn't badly executed like this, it had a proper story and story arc. Which then makes me question SK's On Writing and all his writing advice in that. It makes me wonder if he has actually read this book in its entirity, and actually did collaborate, or simply endorsed it with his name to give his son a boost.

This book has done nothing to inspire me to read any future work from Owen King - and I don't plan to. I read this solely due to SK's name being on it, which it's publishers knew would work. Some might say that I was the one being gullible, but really, he and his publishers should make sure what they publish under his name is quality otherwise that audience will disappear.

I am now dubious, as The Outsider was disappointing, and I still haven't bought Elevation or The Institute yet, and I am wondering if I should.

So no recommendation here.

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