I have a lot of feelings about this book.
You know how people talk about seeing a movie in their head when they read books? I don’t always do this. I read the words and say them to myself and I can understand what’s happening without necessarily having to see it in my mind. I don’t think that means it’s bad writing or that I’m a bad reader, it’s just how it works best for me sometimes.
But when I read the fourth book in the Dark Tower series, a movie was playing constantly in my head. It was effortless and it was lovely and I did it without realizing I had begun. I knew exactly what Roland looked like when he gave his cold, Gunslinger stare, and I know the way Susan’s tears fell down her cheeks and the bruise Cuthbert’s punch left on his friend’s face. I can absolutely see their homes and the landscape of the town they spent a fateful summer. And once I saw them, I couldn’t get them out of my head.
I’m attributing this mainly to Stephen King’s writing. When I read Stephen King, he has this way of getting his books to spill over into real life. In Roland’s world (or worlds, I should say), time is very fluid and events have a way of echoing to other characters and times and places. Jake hears of Roland’s quest for the tower and happens to take a walk to Tower Road and meets a Mr. Tower at a bookstore. These things keep reappearing in varying forms and they take is as a sign the world is changing and has begun to move on. But this echoing happens to me, too. I read about Blaine, a monorail the group takes quite an interesting trip on in Book 3, while I was on the subway train. I listened as the airport tram said, “welcome to the plane train, we are departing.” I saw a tour book in our house with a train on the cover. And it’s not just the Dark Tower series. When I was reading Stephen King’s It, I left the subway late one night and there was a balloon tied to the railing. I didn’t run all the way home, but I wanted to.
The story he’s crafted over the three preceding books contributes to the urgency in Book 4. Before we begin this book, we already know the way Roland ends up. We know he loses his love, Susan Delgado. We know his cold empty fate and the friends that die along the way. But what grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let it go is how they got to the end. The entire book was exciting, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. This is a lot harder, however, when you are on page 300 than, say, 650. So give yourself some time.
This isn’t the first time someone has told the story of two teenagers falling in love with a tragic ending, and it won’t be the last. But it’s been one of my favorites. I have a lot of things to say about it, as you can probably tell, so I think it will be the subject of quite a few posts coming up.