This is the third (or possibly more) book by Stephen King I have attempted to read, following The Shining and It. I was able to finish neither of them, DNFing both of them (The Shining was too frusterating, and It was too slow-moving). My point is, I don’t have the best track record with Stephen King books. But I am an avid watcher of Merphy Napier, a Booktuber, who loved Pet Sematary. And she disliked The Shining for some of the same reasons I did and likes similar styles of books to me. So, reluctantly and since it’s October, I picked up this one.
And I was not disappointed.
Synopsis: Dr. Louis Creed and his family move into a small town in Maine. It is a simple beautiful life, with one oddity. Just next to the Creed house is a mysterious pet cemetery, whose atmosphere is haunting and its presence may tear this family apart.
This book is nearly 400 pages, and yet it doesn’t feel that long. It does a perfect job not only making you care about the characters, but also builds this sense of foreboding with every scene. With many of King’s books, the pace is so slow it lessons the suspense, but with this book it was the perfect mix between intense build-up and slower characters scenes. My main complaint about this book is that the ending feels way too rushed. A hundred pages worth of content feels squished into the last twenty-five pages. However, I’ve heard in general King has issues ending his books, so I wasn’t surprised.
The main themes discussed in this book are death and, more specifically, how we as humans deal to it. Louis and his wife Rachel show a very opposite view of death in the beginning. Rachel lost a sibling quite young, so she has an obsessive fear of death, even to the point that she tries to hide the idea of death from her daughter. On the other hand, Louis sees it in the beginning as just a part of life. That is, until death comes too near and his mind slowly unravels to stop the natural cycle of life.
I loved how real this book felt. Yes, there are the more supernatural aspects of the pet sematary and its almost demonic power, but most of the book follows the pains of real trauma. You see it early on when Louis tries to save a young man’s life in the doctor’s office, but the boy dies. He is haunted for the rest of this book by dreams (perhaps closer to reality that most dreams) of that young man. Similarly, the concept of Louis’s daughter Ellie losing her cat is hinted at early on, as Ellie asks if cats die and pronounces how unfair it is of God to take away pets.
I will try to stay away from most spoilers, because I would recommend reading this book yourself, but I do want to talk about a couple things I didn’t like about this book (while staying away from spoilers).
First, Stephen King has a very blunt way of wording things, once in a while to the point of being vulgar and disgusting. It is his choices of words, his perverse way of looking at sexuality or the human body that can rub me wrong. It is rare, but it does bother me slightly.
Second, the ending (again, avoiding spoilers). The book builds up to an epic ending so well, and yet the last twenty-five pages suddenly have so many things happen with no build-up. It was like King had an idea for the ending and realized he didn’t want to make the book so long, so he just regurgitated the Spark notes version of the ideas. Because of this, I gave it four instead of five stars.
Although this book wasn’t perfect, it has given me hope that I should give Stephen King’s books a fair chance and try reading some more. He seems like a hit or miss author for me, and I look forward to trying out more of his books. Also, for reference, I have not seen any of the adaptations of this book. However, I did watch an analysis of the new adaptation, so I did go into the book knowing some spoilers.
Have you read this book or seen the movie? Or any other book by Stephen King? What is your view of his books? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,