by Stephen King
Dreamcatcher tells the tale of five men, friends since they were boys, who find themselves at the center of an alien incursion onto Earth. Over the course of the book, they contend with the menacing alien life forms that emerge from the deep North woods of Maine, an over-zealous military reaction, and the traumatic events that forged the solid bonds that have kept the men friends since junior high.
A few thoughts:
- As always, King writes honest, real-feeling people. Most interesting this time around is Duddits, the boy around whom the other four boys rallied when they were in junior high. Duddits has Down Syndrome, but also a strong interpersonal connection that manifests in strange and exciting ways. King does a good job, for my money, of crafting authentic relationships between Duddits and the other boys/men.
- There are hardly any women in this book. The two who get more than a passing sentence have one or two chapters at most, and even then they don’t really get filled out as characters. It’s the biggest failing in the book, to my mind.
- As with many of King’s books, this one takes place in Derry, where the characters seem to overlap with people and events from other books, such as It, Tommyknockers, and “The Body.” This book reminds me a lot of It, too, for its oscillation between childhood and adult stories, and the power of friendships forged in junior high.
- Like The Regulators, this book includes a significant portion in which a character is secluded inside his own mind, cut off from the outer world but still existing in there. Because this character had also suffered a brutal injury from being hit by a car, one can’t help but imagine King was exorcising some of his own demons in writing those pieces.
- One particularly amusing part of the story comes from the alien, an almost non-sentient intelligence that just happens to take control of a man, learning to enjoy the world of the flesh. Not surprisingly, he likes bacon. (The non-sentient alien intelligence reminds me of the creepy ship in Peter Watt’s Blindsight.
Dreamcatcher entertains, even as it runs too long. It took me a while to get into, but as usual with King, once the real menace starts, it was hard to put down.
ps> We read this book as part of my speculative fiction book club. You can see additional thoughts about it there.