By: Stephen King
Trip over a piece of metal in the woods.
Realize it’s larger than you could have imagined. Give into compulsion to dig it up.
I read The Tommyknockers for the first time when I was a kid (probably 12 or so) and it’s stayed with me as one of my favorites. Or maybe it just scared me? I’m going with the first. Anyway I reread it for the first time and it’s interesting the things you pick up on the second time around…
And somethings that Google tells you.
This is an alien invasion from within. As Bobbi and her friend Gard unearth the ship she and the townspeople begin to undergo changes. They can read each others minds and communicate that way. They’re building impossible things… literally opening up doors to different worlds with souped up children’s toys and attacking people with coke machines. A kid disappears his brother during a magic trick. Their bodies are being wrecked and changed driven and bleeding. As the air itself changes Haven becomes almost completely blocked off from the outside world and anyone unlucky enough to enter will be taken out one way or another.
Gard, who has a massive drinking problem, is an exception. But generally speaking he falls back on the beer and is not strong enough to stop them- or like I would be doing- running like hell for the border.
I did not know that Stephen King wrote this toward the end of his cocaine addiction on a binge- and after his wife got him to seek help. Tommyknockers is also considered one of his worst and generally dismissed.
I could see the drugs reading it this time around. Not just in Gard’s addiction but overall in the way the residents lost themselves to the alien addiction. In the way the few people that maintained themselves tried desperately but couldn’t help. It definitely cast The Tommyknockers in a different light. The enemy within for sure.
I can also see the other problems. The book is definitely in need of an editor going on and on at times- especially toward the end. The Jim Gardner character while admirable in his love for his friend was also harder to tolerate this time around. Like okay, I get it. You don’t trust the government but even to the point when he finally realized what was going on I had to roll my eyes at his whole still better than the government.
Like I’m a cynical person and don’t really trust the government either. But come on! I would have liked him to get smarter a lot sooner. Also there’s King’s fascination with Bobbi’s small breasts- okay, that’s mostly in Gard’s chapters but seriously I wanted to ask if he could describe any other part of his friend and part of the effect the ship has on the women is a constant menstrual cycle. Ew.
I did pick up on the Derry mentions this time. Even a quick Pennywise cameo! Which naturally made me imagine Pennywise shaking his head at Haven thinking, “You people are scary enough I’m just gonna sit in my gutter and enjoy the show.”
There are apparently a lot of references to his own work in this book and others that probably went over my head because I’m not that big on horror- so if you are you may be able to pick up on even more.
In the end I still really love the book. It may be that the story elements just appeal to me. It’s my kind of horror- an unstoppable force and perhaps a losing battle. No way out but the end. For all the book rambles on Stephen King weaves the atmosphere of life in this small town brilliantly and creepily amps up the tension until the breaking point.
I also must admit that I found it an easy book to read regardless of it’s occasional rambling mainly because it’s broken into bits, at least for most of it. Bobbi, Gard and then you follow a couple of the townspeople, get some history of the town and so on and so forth until things start to come together in the end.
Most excitingly Universal just brought the film rights. I didn’t even know there was that possibility when I started rereading. There’s also an old miniseries from 1993 with Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger- you can buy it on Amazon but from what I understand it was pretty different.
Recommend: Maybe. If you’re interested in King or alien invasions I wouldn’t dismiss it- but if you’re on the edge it’s a big book to commit to. I’m glad I read and reread it and now I think I’m going to go finally put Lovecraft on my list.