Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long

Stephen King. Whether you love the guy or hate him, you can't deny that the guy can tell a story. I decided to re-read The Green Mile for Ben's Smooth Criminals Reading Challenge for the Prison Book category. I'm so glad I did. I know I should be branching out, reading new things, blah blah blah but no regrets with this one. I originally read this sometime after the movie came out but most of the details I remembered were from the movie.

This isn't a horror story. For those of you that stay away from King because you're afraid, this isn't a horror story. It's not a happy, rainbows and kittens. I mean, the story takes place on death row during the Depression. But there aren't demonic hotels or zombie cats or anything like that. It's the story of Paul Edgecombe, a prison guard at Cold Mountain penitentiary and John Coffey, a giant black man convicted for a brutal crime and sentenced to die. But there's something about Coffey. He doesn't seem like a killer. His first night on the E Block he asks if they leave a light on at night because he's afraid of the dark.

King sucks you into this world he's created. I didn't read this as it first came out, so I didn't read it in its serialized version. I wish I did. It would have been amazing to have the story drawn out like that, waiting to see what was going to happen in the next installment. My copy has all of the books smooshed into one, but you still have the separations for each of the books, so you can see where it would have ended. I could imagine how it would have been to have the story end and have to wait for the next part. It's not like waiting for the next book in a series, because here the story isn't done yet. You don't have the story wrap-up that you get with something like the Harry Potter books.

The story is heart breaking but it never feels manipulative. You feel these characters trapped in the situation and you get angry because it's so unfair. But it's supposed to be unfair. The Jesus references are a little heavy handed. OK, they're a lot heavy handed, but I don't remember them being so obvious. Maybe because the first time I was so enthralled with the story. This time I could take in the scenery a little bit more. But still, it wasn't enough to hurt the story. Which was wonderful and this will definitely be a book I read again.

So even if you don't like horror or aren't a King fan, give this book a try. It's worth it.

Two challenge books in a row completed! What's that? Why thank you, I am on a roll.

Title quote from page 536.

King, Stephen. The Green Mile. Pocket Books, 1996.