Scott Carey is mysteriously dropping weight. Despite no changes to his diet or lifestyle, the number on the scale is slowly decreasing. And what at first seemed like a good thing, despite the fact that his outward appearance isn’t changing to coincide with his weight loss, Scott is slowly becoming worried about what might happen if he continues to waste away.
But before he does, Scott has decided he’s going to accomplish a few things in the small town of Castle Rock. One of those is befriending and helping the lesbian couple that moved in a few doors down from his house and who recently opened a Mexican restaurant.
Stephen King’s novella Elevation doesn’t have King pulling any punches or hiding his feelings on the current day political climate in our country. Several digs at the current administration are present, making this reader wonder if and how well this story will age. Odds are it not age as well, which is a shame because when King isn’t scoring a few political points, Elevation is a taunt story that unfolds nicely over its 200 or so pages. It’s not vintage King and it’s not the best thing he’s published this year (that goes to The Outsider), but it’s still a story that explores one of King’s favorite themes — how do ordinary people act and react when extraordinary things happen to them.
Gwendy’s Button Box feels like an homage to Richard Matheson’s superlative short-story “The Box” (which if you haven’t read yet, please add it to your summer reading list!).
Young Gwendy Patterson is running the town’s Suicide Stairs in the summer of 1974 in an attempt to leave her derogatory nickname behind when she enters middle school that fall. She meets a mysterious man in black who offers her a box with buttons. One button will give her a chocolate treat that will help curb her appetite. Another dispenses silver dollars and the others come with warnings that they shouldn’t be pushed except under extreme circumstances. Continue reading
For the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, Puffin gave readers a series of novellas by popular young adult authors, each one focusing on a different incarnation of our favorite Time Lord. With the dawn of the Peter Capaldi era, Puffin has given fans a complete set of Doctors with Holly Black’s “Lights Out” story.
And yet as I read the novella, I couldn’t help but feel this was less a Doctor Who story than one that Holly Black might tell with the Doctor inserted into it.
In many ways, this story reminded me of stories from the (then) annual Strange New Worlds collection that were written by fans about just one installment of Enterprise aired. Black’s story feels like it was written right after “Deep Breath” aired with multiple references to the Capaldi Doctor’s eye brows and his over more gruff demeanor. He comes across our first-person narrator on a future world where coffee is scarce and the two meet while waiting in line for some.
As a set-up, it’s decent enough, but even as a novella it feels like the Doctor’s involvement is tangential at best. Even given the more “at arm’s length” approach to the companions that Capaldi’s Doctor has taken, it still didn’t quite feel right here.
The second half features a few attempted twists and turns that I’m not sure work as well as they could or should.
All in all, I came away from this entry feeling a bit disappointed. I wonder if I’d read it closer to the time that Black wrote it and instead of having a dozen episodes to get to know this new Doctor if my feelings might have been different. As it stands, I have to call this one of the lesser entries in Puffin’s offerings.
I received a digital ARC of this novella from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.