Title: The Outsider
Author: Stephen King
Page Count: 486
The thing with The Outsider is that I feel as though it would have been pretty good if just anyone had written it, but the problem is that it’s pretty poor for a Stephen King book. It was competently written and I kept on reading, but it didn’t really contain anything to surprise or impress me.
Part of the reason for that is that I’m not much of a fan of when King does crime, mostly because I can’t help feeling that the point of crime is that it’s based on reality, and so as soon as he adds the inevitable supernatural elements, I start to lose interest in the story. It’s a bit like trying to play Cluedo with someone who makes up the rules as they go along.
It’s also the unofficial fourth book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, a mini-series that started off well but which immediately took a dive as soon as the supernatural elements kicked in. I quite liked Bill Hodges as a character, but Hodges is dead by this point and so we have to make do with Holly Gibney, who I liked in the previous books but who I found kind of annoying here. It was also a bit weird how she just randomly shows up half way through the story, way after all of the other characters have been introduced and established.
Other than that though, it’s pretty much positive, and I liked the way that King eventually explained all of the supernatural elements. The bad guy wasn’t necessarily as terrifying as the Walken Dude, but he was still pretty intimidating in a way that was terrifyingly human. In a way, it almost feels realer than a lot of his other monsters too, perhaps because of the setting and the explanation.
Then there are the main characters, with Ralph and Howie standing out for me in particular. That’s one of the good things about reading King – you know that you’re always going to get some pretty good characterisation. Everyone felt pretty fledged out, and I don’t have any complaints to speak of. I was just hoping for something a little more, even though I’d been warned by the reviews that it wasn’t the best King book on the market.
Would I recommend it? I mean yeah, but mainly because I recommend King in general. It doesn’t make sense to get to this one ahead of the other three books in the Bill Hodges series, and to be honest I wouldn’t even recommend those over some of King’s old school classics. But it’s worth picking up eventually or if you see it going second hand in a charity shop. And I’m glad that I’m that one step closer to finishing every book he’s ever written. So what’s next?