Pet Sematary is hardcore 80s King, back when he took drugs, drank like a guy in a Sheb Wooley joke (“I never drink anything stronger than pop, but my pop would drink just about anything”), and didn’t have much time for writing the Great American Novel. If you’re a fan of “literary” King, I honestly don’t know what you’re going to do with Pet Sematary. Maybe use it to line your cat’s litter box.

It’s another of King’s “big secret in a small town” tales, featuring scant plot but lots of scares. Louis Creed and his family move to a town that with a small cemetery for pets. Beyond the cemetary lies an old Indian burial ground. When a pet cat is killed, Louis buries it there on the advice on friendly local Jud Crandall.

The cat returns to life. Or does it? Things go bad very fast for Creed and his family. There are consequences when you stamp “RETURN TO SENDER” on the face of death, and soon both he and us are introduced to them in exhaustive detail.

King’s characterisation is always excellent. He has a talent for making characters do irrational things, while not having them seem irrational. The internal logic always holds up. At first your reaction is “what?”, then you forget your misgivings, and soon even you think you would have acted the same way. Mostly, King’s characters are just plain likeable, which makes the later events of the story heart-wrenching.

As always there’s an interesting pile of backstories that gets developed little by little. King’s main characters are always in the spotlight, but there’s the sense that there could be many more stories told about this town. It pays not to speed read, because there’s small details in characters’ backstories that tend to colour and change your perspective on their actions.

Crandall is a fascinating character. He nominally occupies the “Good Guy” seat, yet a lot of his actions are morally turbid, to say the least. There aren’t many positive sides to what he teaches Louis about the pet cemetery, and he ends up coming across like a smiling, do-gooder next door who hands a small child a gun. There is no way he couldn’t have seen what’s coming.

The book’s climax is a steady free-fall into terror, with Stephen King playing with your emotions with one hand while slashing at your guts with the other. The pace is fast, and the ending unforgettable. You can’t really go wrong with an 80s King novel, and this one continues his streak.

I don’t know whether the movie is any good.

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The book opens with an adorable anecdote about a boy going to a pet shop to adopt a dog. Oh, look. Dean Koontz is back in cute mode.

The first section of the book is truly horrific, detailing the quirky and hilarious life of a quirky and hilarious family who I want to murder with a chainsaw. We have a Dean Koontz Trifecta of Cute (a lovable dog, a lovable kid, and a protagonist who’s an author), huge amounts of preaching and moralising, and a general air of forced whimsy that makes getting crapped on by an elephant seem like a joy.

One scene actually made me angry. One of the protagonists says “I don’t give a flying…” realises that the aforementioned child is listening, finishes with “…furnal,” and goes off and running into this funny made-up biology lesson on the Flying Furnal species of squirrel, at which point we’re all meant to be rolling around laughing at Koontz’s livewire wit.

Well, you know what I think? Dean Koontz’s career needs to end. Once he was a storyteller. Now, he’s a self-parody. Why do you do this, Dean? This isn’t entertaining, this is awful. You’re like an annoying older relative doing “baby talk.” That’s the verdict on Relentless…300 pages of “COOCHIE COOCHIE COO.” The last few Odd Thomas books sucked, and now we get this. Dean Koontz is offically over. Close the coffin lid. Pound down the nails.

The story is about a author who writes tales of empathy and humanity, and attracts the rage of a murderous postmodern literary critic who believes such things are outdated (if you listen closely you can hear a sledgehammer sound of Koontz inserting one of his subtle metaphors). The critic has the resources of a Bond villain, and soon the author and his family are running for their lives.

That Koontz handles the story well on a certain level isn’t surprising. His led this horse around the bend many times before. It doesn’t matter, because Koontz’s nonstop clowning mixed with moralising deep-six the book.

He just has no restraint at all. There’s an embarassing scene at the end where the heroes have the main bad guy cornered and he/she/it recites a list of philosophers, roll call style, whom Dean Koontz doesn’t like. There’s no subtlety, and no attempt made to integrate it into story in a believable way. It’s just Koontz sharing his views directly at the reader through a megaphone. There are scenes of gore and violence that might have fitted in on an older Koontz title. Given the cutesy and saccharine atmosphere of Relentless, they stick out like a hand with five sore thumbs.

The book has a comic relief character called Hud Jacklight. He’s a literary agent who phones the author now and then to suggest hilariously tasteless book ideas. The Great Gatsby II, with Gatsby reborn as a vampire. White Fang II, with wolves possessed by alien mind control rays. If those books were written, they would embrace Relentless by Dean Koontz with papery arms and call it a brother. Dean Koontz is an expert on shitty books. They’re all he knows how to write these days.

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I miss the old internet. I miss the days when people had homemade personal websites that they coded themselves. It was like an exam you had to sit. If you couldn’t figure out HTML, too bad. Now every idiot is posting from a professionally designed tumblr template. The dissonance is chilling. Beautiful CSS3 compatible websites used as a delivery system for Socially Awkward Penguin memes.

I liked it when forums weren’t locked down with karma and upvotes and approval scores and other tools designed to make you into a sheep. Once, you posted to express opinions. Now, you post like a politician. “How will my post play with the ‘upvotes Dr Who references’ crowd? Will it enrage the anti-Care Bears demographic? Oh shit, we’re losing the mandate!”

Tumblr is a horror and a human rights travesty on par with the Holocaust and the Bataan Death Marches. Just a nonstop stream of disparate information being fed at you with no organisation. Things appear. Then they disappear. If you have something to say on Tumblr, make sure you don’t waste too much effort typing it. By tomorrow morning it will have disappeared from everyone’s dash and nobody will remember it.

Once, creative people thought you could make money on the internet. Then, they thought you could build a fanbase on the internet. Even that is beginning to seem like a pipe dream. If you make a pretty picture, it might go viral…after some ass-pirate on Reddit swipes your picture, edits out your name, and claims it was drawn by his autistic 12 year old sister. I have no idea who created half the shit I see online. It seems that wanting to be credited for your work is an obsolete idea, like “Be Kind, Rewind!”

Youtube becomes measurably worse each year. Remember how once you could pause a video and it would buffer to the end? And how could you see video ratings in the sidebar? Why don’t we still have those things?

Nobody reads any more. Images are how we talk. If you want to get some of King George’s English in front of a mass audience, it needs to be bold, punchy, feature at least 3 colours, be in ALL CAPS, and be superimposed over a dramatic image emphasising your point. Make sure you use simple words.

The entire internet should be buttfucked with dynamite.

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