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The Actual Book Club

Discussion in 'Book club' started by peggylu, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Don't be sorry, absolutely no apologies required. The biggest advantage of having our very own online book club is that we can be as casual and easy going about it as we want to be. We can make the rules up as we go along.

    No having to turn up to bossy Mrs so and so's house once a month in your best frock carrying a homemade cake having memorised an English lit style analysis of that month's book :D.

    If people can only give their views of chapters 1-4... fine; or if we can't join in to read sone titles at all due to life/work/commitments butting in... fine. You never know, you might end up having the most to say about the next book on, or the one after that.

    I hope your new job is going well, congratulations btw and yes, if it is possible to get a chook to pose for a photo (I'm imagining a Rocky Balboa style chicken chase here) that would be brilliant.

    I hope you can join in the chat over the weekend, even if its just about the parts you've read so far or if just to say if you're enjoying it or not. :)
    frangipani123 likes this.
  2. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Good for you. :) Congratulations on the good results. I was able to heave a sigh of relief regarding our results today too so I know how you feel.

    Hungover contributors are just as welcome as everyone else in our book club. You don't even have to get dressed or out of your bed to share your thoughts with us :D.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  3. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Good as about to start bottle #3 :)
    peggylu likes this.
  4. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

  5. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    What did everyone think then?

    Did you like the book overall or consider it awful?
    Did the story draw you in or leave you cold?
    What did you think about the main two protagonists?

    Personally I enjoyed the book overall. I don't think it's great literature by any stretch of the imagination but, I did find it a page turner and I found the internal character of Brady Hartfield truly horrifying.

    The parallels between his fictional mass murder by vehicle, his later murder attempt by suicide bomb and the low tech terrorist attacks that have occurred more recently are truly chilling. When you consider that this book was written long before this type of terrorist methodology had been experienced by us all. I remember immediately thinking of this book when the reports of the Manchester suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert first came through on the news. I must admit to wondering at the time if the evil, sick idea could have actually originated from someone reading this story.

    Brady also seems so plausible, if stereotyped. The psychopath as an everyday nonentity, just the guy who comes round to fix your laptop or the ice-cream man or the average neighbour who you see leave on a morning for work and return in the evening. Creepy! King seems to have really understood what our modern day fears focus on and has used that to enhance his story telling. Brady's confused relationship with his mother and the back story of that is a horror story in itself.

    I liked Bill from the start. The first part of the book describing how he wasn't coping with feeling useless and unchallenged in his retirement. The daytime tv, the drinking, the lack of interest in the world, again seemed a bit of a stereotype, but drew me in straight away. When it became came clear what he was doing with his dad's gun always next to him was when I first began to care about the character and began rooting for his survival.
    galerider123 and secretsiren like this.
  6. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I found the opening chapter very moving, weirdly. I thought we'd be following Augie's story for a bit as I deliberately didn't read the blurb or anything about the book so knew nothing whatsoever before reading it. The idea of the mother, baby and protective stranger being mown down in a queue made me feel very angry...I think King played very cleverly on events of the last years (although I think this was written in 2013/14?) with 'everyday' things being used to attack innocent people.

    I thought the character of 'Mr Mercedes' was very believable but perhaps a tiny bit stereotypical, as if Stephen King tried to use all the indicators of a mass or serial killer (childhood abuse - check; outwardly normal personality - check; inflated IQ - check...). I did squirm when his mum died and he simply went downstairs to the basement and waited it out: I could easily imagine that for someone like Brady it would be easier to just sit and wait for the noises to stop than to try to help. Yuk.
    galerider123, sabrinakat and peggylu like this.
  7. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    I agree. It was very well structured to draw you in and make you care about the people affected by this crime. I suppose if we hadn't been introduced to a personal perspective of the event at the jobs fair we wouldn't have felt as invested in Brady being caught.

    I know!! How horrific was that scenario. Also the description of how he killed his younger brother with the barely acknowledged compliance of the mother and her subsequent coaching of young Brady to cover it all up. Her grisly death, with her being withheld any assistance or comfort seemed poetic justice for the role she played in her disabled younger son's ending.
  8. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Yes. I found the hints about the apple and then the fall very intriguing and then when I read the actual death scene, I felt a bit sick! The mother's death, which is grisly and drawn out, acts as a real contrast with the deaths of the mother and baby at the very start where you're horrified at what's happening to them.
    galerider123 and peggylu like this.
  9. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    I was a bit conflicted about the characters Jerome and Holly.

    The whole black slave style talk as a running joke just seemed unnecessary, pointless and uncomfortable. Otherwise, the character was a clever juxtaposition to how Bill was seeing himself, i.e. A good guy but old and past being of any use. Whereas Jerome was a youthful good guy, just on the cusp of starting his useful life.

    Also, Holly seemed a bit cartoonish at first. Getting her back story helped with this though and I did like her increasing empowerment until she finally became the person who actually ended up saving thousands of lives. I liked her ending up the heroine - to the consternation of her horrible mother. :)

    (SEQUEL SPOILER - both these characters are developed and explored much more deeply throughout books 2 & 3).
  10. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I agree with you about Holly. I found it slightly incredible that she would walk into that arena and just cosh someone when her character was so mousy and frightened beforehand. I would have believed it about 'Finders Keepers' Holly or 'End of Watch' Holly but not 'Mr Mercedes' Holly.
    galerider123 and peggylu like this.
  11. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I didn't like it but I very much like Stephen King. It was oddly prescient. I found the character development of Holly a bit forced as well. TBH, I probably will read the rest of the trilogy at some point and will try to watch Mr Mercedes as I like Brendan Gleeson....

    Am a bit hungover (it was a bottle of red + a glass of another + half a bottle of prosecco) but very happy post-GCSE results....
    peggylu likes this.
  12. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I empathise. I had two glasses of wine and then three glasses of Baileys. I'm doing a post-result analysis and almost all of the kids with the top marks in our school were in my class so I'm pretty pleased with myself right now.

    What did you guys think of the ending? Considering it was written 4 years ago, the fact that the baddy tries to blow up a concert involving lots of teenage girls seems almost spookily like a forerunner of the Manchester bombing. Once again, I felt a little uncomfortable - the car running down a queue of people and then an attempted bombing of lots of innocent teenage victims. Stephen King has a knack of really knowing people and life. You see it in some of his other work too - his characters talk like real people and interact like real people instead of created characters.
    Sundaytrekker, sabrinakat and peggylu like this.
  13. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    Can't contribute yet - haven't finished!! Life intervened.
    peggylu likes this.
  14. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    My thoughts exactly.

    If you are into King's usual stuff I think you will enjoy book 2&3 more as he veers a little more into his usual territory. I agree about Holly feeling 'rushed' it didn't ring true did it.

    When Manchester happened I was amazed no news reports ever likened it to the ending of this book. King really seems to have his own personal window into the darkness in people's souls. Don't know whether that's a good thing or not. I wouldn't like to have the kind of mind that was capable of imagining the cruel depths that humanity can sink to.

    sabrinakat likes this.
  15. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I think SK's had his share of demons - being so poor (as a teacher!) that he and his wife lived in a trailer with their children; drinking and drug-taking to the extent that he can't remember writing some of his books; major car accident and severe injuries afterwards.

    I did wonder while reading the book whether his own car accident (he was hit when out for a walk by a drunk driver and injured very seriously) influenced his descriptions of the crash at the beginning. When he describes Augie looking up towards the car, it struck me as a very personal moment. Maybe reliving the moment of being hit by a car?
    peggylu likes this.
  16. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Not to worry. Comment on what bits you can. @frangipani123

    See my post #81 :)
  17. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    @secretsiren I didn't know any of that about SK. :eek:

    What a weird and wonderful life he's had then. The drugs and drink part could explain a lot of his books.

    Also, how high do you have to be to write a novel and not remember doing it??? Bizarre.
  18. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    I liked the part in the book where Bill and Janelle get together, however implausible it would be in real life.

    Us being let into fears about him being old and out of shape (and out of practice in the bedroom department) were so endearing and realistic. SK invested so much narrative in the detail and little moments in their blossoming relationship that it was a real plot shock when she went.

    Another thing for Bill to brood on for the rest of his life, knowing that it should have been him.
  19. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I liked that relationship too. I didn't buy the fact that Janelle's body/face wouldn't be seen or noticed by Brady before the explosion. If Hodges is meant to be chubby and elderly but Janelle is slender and young-looking (as Hodges can't believe she's in her forties) then I find it hard to believe that someone who has noticed a guy putting a gun in his mouth from the vantage point of an ice cream van in the street wouldn't notice the difference just because of a hat.

    SK wrote a whole heap of his books while off his head - 'Cujo', 'Christine' and others. I don't know how drunk you'd have to be but I have drunk a fair whack in my time and haven't forgotten the night before, let alone whole months! I think it's a testament to his ability that he managed to write so well whilst in the middle of a major addiction.
    peggylu and sabrinakat like this.
  20. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Sorry I'm late....been busy all day.
    I enjoyed this book! I give it a 7 and a half out of ten!
    I liked the characterisation overall in Mr Mercedes. The first standalone chapter of the mowing down of the jobseeker's queue sets the tone...real, warm characters:misty,sombre and cold: sudden impact.
    Then we get to met the main character, Bill, at a loss after retirement. Brady taunts him back into life again, even though his intentions are warped.
    I liked the way SK controlled the revelations and tension through the novel.
    I was struck cold when the plot to murder the children at the pop concert was first revealed...real pit of the stomach weight, (at that point the details are not given, and your mind flies around wondering how close to Manchester it was going to be).
    I liked Bill and Jenny's romance in the middle of the book too...it was like a warm recess from the horror.
    Holly is introduced far too late into the book. It's as if SK has realised that if you save a crowd of children you are going to be too famous to do any more detective work, so if he was going to write any sequels then Bill couldn't be the one to save the day.
    I think that he tries to explain her change of character (she explains herself that it was when she saw bits of Jenny blown all over the road) but when she then turns out to be a secret computer genuis as well, it all seems like too much of a surprise somehow. That is my main complaint about the story as a whole.
    I think that her character should have been acting out of absolute terror at the pop concert (which would have explained the violence of Bradley's head injuries) rather than determination... it would have been more in character but with the end result slightly more believable. Bradley's thoughts and feelings are given more weight here...Holly seems more rushed, somehow.
    I'm also not sure about the reality of "hanging on" when you're having a heart attack,either.
    A nice, satisfying ending, with that typical horror lemony twist tacked on right on the last page...
    peggylu likes this.

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