Firstly, it took me a millennium to get into this book (that's a lie, but I did start it in October, and just didn't have the energy to struggle on with it) if, indeed, I ever 'got into it' at all. To be honest, the concept is pretty interesting- the world where you have daydreams is real, changes in that world affect things in our world (and all the other worlds, and hello some of The Dark Tower's lovely lovely 'science') and this one kid (Jack, the tiny boy hero) has to go out on a quest to get this mysterious object (The Talisman) so that he can save his mother's life, but also save all the worlds, which are being attempted-ly taken over by this evil overlord, who also happens to have been his dead father's best friend.
This all, I realise, sounds amazing. And it really could have been, I think, but somehow the entire thing (and I really do mean all 766 pages of it) kind of fell flat for me. I didn't exactly hate it, and it wasn't badly written (if either of those things had been true then I probably would have had to stop reading it) it was just so... meh. Look at me, explaining myself like a pro. Ok, here are the things that bugged me, mainly (everyone loves bullet points, right?):
- Unecessary plot things- I want to say plot twists, but they weren't really twists, and I want to say devices, but that sounds wrong too. The thing is this- there's this character called Wolf who Jack brings over from the Territories (the daydream-ish world) into our world, and if you thought King and Straub were going somewhere with this, you'd be absolutely wrong. Wolf whinges, gets Jack in trouble, and generally does nothing useful, and he's in a HUGE chunk of the book, during most of which I was just hoping that he'd get run over or something because he contributed NOTHING to ANYTHING. God!
- Lack of connection to the characters- With It (a mere 2 books away now!), King makes me love and feel deep compassion for 7 separate characters. With The Talisman, I don't even care about Jack, and he's the book's entire focus. There's a great deal of emphasis on what Jack is doing, and what the different worlds look like and consist of, which is fine, but on its own, it's extremely annoying. I need some more reasons why I should love Jack, some endearing vulnerabilities, just more of a backstory and a reason to root for him (other than, if he doesn't succeed, the world(s) will be swallowed up in darkness and evil. Which is a pretty good reason, I guess...)
- It's confusing- And not confusing in a way where you're meant to be confused and then everything will have been sorted out for you by the end- confusing as in, I still don't know what having a 'twinner' really means, and whether or not going to the other side means you're there in your twinner's body or as yourself... (told you it was confusing). Basically, a bit of clarity would have been nice, thank you very much.
- It's not exactly all about the women- And that's an understatement! I'm not saying that Stephen King is the supreme teller-of-women's-stories, because, let's face it, he isn't (which is ok... sort of) but The Talisman really takes the piss. There are genuinely two female characters- Jack's mother, who is dying of cancer and has to stay behind while he goes off on his quest, and her twinner, Queen Laura, who is even more passive and is unconscious for the whole of the book. And that's literally it- Jack makes friends with a male wolf, he goes into a correctional facility for boys, even goes to an all-boys school to track down a friend. Women really don't factor at all in this story, and while I would normally let that go (begrudgingly), there was so little else to keep me captivated that I couldn't help but notice the distinct lack of ladies (and the passivity of the ones there were). Lame, guys. Very lame.