Friday, November 9, 2012

Couldn't plant nothing here but corpses anyway

It was almost the end of October and I realized I hadn't read a single Halloween worthy book. The Grapes of Wrath readalong (which was super fun) took up a lot of time, as well as the book Ad Nomad, which I'm still working my way through. Anyway, I decided I needed to fix that so I picked up Stephen King's Pet Sematary. And then a couple days later we got slammed by Hurricane Sandy and we lost power. I mentioned before, I COULD have stopped reading Pet Sematary and gone with something else. Something better to read when you have no power and are trying to balance a flashlight. But I'm stubborn so I kept going. I'm very happy our power came back before I finished this.

There are some King books I'll recommend to people who aren't horror fans. Pet Sematary is not one of them. Go into this one knowing you will be getting a horror story. King even says that this is the book that scares him. But it's so much more than just a simple scary story.

I first read this book in college for my Horror Fiction class. I'm glad I did because there's something about the basic plot synopsis that doesn't interest me. The Creed family (husband Louis, wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, son Gage) move to an idyllic home in Maine (of course), but there's an evil lurking in the woods behind their house. Sure, there's the Pet Sematary, a place where the neighborhood kids bury their passed pets, and that's sorta creepy. But there's something beyond the cemetery, down the dead fall where something ominous resides. And the family will learn that sometimes dead is better.

See that's creepy but nothing to really grab my attention. However, that's not really what the story is about. I mean, that's what happens but it's really about death. It's about dealing with the very real experience of death, something everyone will face. It's about coming to terms with the inevitability, not only for yourself but for your loved ones. And it's what happens when you refused to come to terms with it.

What really got me interested in the story was King's introduction. Or rather the story about his own daughter that inspired the story and even featured in the book. King lived in a home similar to the Creeds that  was also on a very busy street. And like Ellie, King's young daughter had a cat. And like Ellie's cat Church, King's daughter's cat got run over by a truck. King and his wife tell his daughter what happened and they bury her cat in the pet sematary down the street from them, and all seemed fine. Until that night when he heard his daughter jumping up and down on bubble wrap screaming "I want my cat back! God can get his OWN cat!" I don't know what it is exactly but I love that scene, in both King's retelling of his daughter and Ellie's reaction at the thought of Church getting hurt.

This is a deeply upsetting book. It's scary, absolutely. It's scary and unsettling. But more than that, it's upsetting. It's a book that made me cry, where Grapes never did. It's a book that makes you WANT to jump up and down on  bubble wrap and curse God because sometimes unfair things happen. And I always love a book where I spend the whole time hoping things will turn out differently this time, even though I know exactly how things are going to go.

I know I haven't really said much about the story, but I don't want to give away too much. Just know that this is one of King's best, at least out of the ones I've read. If you like horror, or at least if you are willing to try horror, read this one. Oh and avoid the movie. Just ignore that one.

Title quote from page 46

King, Stephen. Pet Sematary. Pocket Books, 2001. Originally published 1983.