Title: The Mist
Author: Stephen King
Publication date: 1980, 1985, 2007
It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun.
Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements.
What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?
For those who don’t know, The Mist is a horror novella by the king of horror stories as they call him, Stephen King. Okay, maybe they don’t actually call him that but we have to admit that when we think of horror books the first name that comes to mind along with Lovecraft, Shelly and other personal favorites is Stephen King.
The Mist is a story about a man, David Drayton, whose life turns into a living nightmare, his worst fears coming to life when his home town, Bridgton, Maine, is drown in a bizarre, unnatural mist. David, along his son Billy, and some of the people he is trapped with in the town’s supermarket soon realize that what is hiding in the mist is much more deadly and terrifying than they could ever imagine and death may be closer than they think.
True to his style, you can count on Stephen King to pull you into the story with his on-point super realistic descriptions and references painting a picture so vivid that you start to wonder if this had really happened to somebody. While I do admire his skill, I must say that I personally can’t handle so much unnecessary descriptions and getting distracted from the action all the time.
He knows how to get the reader on the edge of their seat, I give him that, but when he starts bringing thoughts or references to things not directly related to the super intense monster scene – I am always close to losing it. I want to know what happens next, I want to know if this or that person will die, if the mist would swallow them or if the crazy Mrs. Carmody will convince the others that what the mist wants is a blood sacrifice…
The endless push-and-pull feeling I get through the story is ruining the experience for me. What I mean? Stephen King does this thing where he builds and builds tension between one scene and the next, and in this genre that’s an awesome thing, but every time something is just about to happen David starts thinking about things, which even if related to the matters at hand, are hardly important and I feel frustrated or as usual, shout to myself ‘Nobody cares!’ like a mad person.
Characters-wise while extremely believable, I wasn’t really able to connect with any of them, least David. Yeah, I did care about him and I certainly didn’t want little Billy to die but unlike some other books I’ve read I felt nothing when he made stupid decisions or did something brave or admirable(David, not Billy. Billy cried, ate and slept through the whole thing).
The other characters, apart from Ollie who was one of the supermarkets’ managers, were rather bleak and boring for me. Even Mrs. Carmody who was supposed to play a key role in all the conflicts in the supermarket. Maybe it is the fact that I am not a huge fan of the genre or maybe it is the writing itself that prevents me from connecting with the book on another level – either way we have our preferences and our own compass telling us what feels right.
The final thing, and the biggest issue for me was the ending. I don’t expect every story to have a happy ending – I prefer even the opposite as long as it fits the plot, of course. But what The Mist gave me is a bag of unanswered questions and endless possibilities. I think the author itself said it best in one of the ending pages:
“It is, I suppose, what my father always frowningly called Alfred Hitchcock ending,“ by which he meant a conclusion in ambiguity that allowed the reader or viewer to make up his own mind about how things ended. My father had nothing but contempt for such stories, saying they were ‘cheap shots’.“
I don’t mind being in the dark, I don’t mind feeling a bit lost but I need answers at the end, I need to know what happened. I spent so much time with
those characters, with this idea, this story – I must know how it really ends for them or otherwise I am left with a feeling of disappointment and anger. If I have to be honest I started the book after watching the TV Show ‘The Mist’ hoping for a better ending(the TV show was okay but the open ending devastated me, especially after the production was cancelled/ended). Safe to say, I did not get my better ending.
Overall, if you like Stephen King’s style and his out-of-the-box ideas(which are extremely original and entertaining, I must admit) you may also like the book. Not his best one judging by the few others I’ve read but I will be able to rank them better once I read more of his works. However, if you’re like me or your preferred genre is not horror/thriller then this book may not be exactly your cup of tea.
I would personally give it score 3/5 since it was entertaining for the most part and I really loved the idea of the mist and the vile monsters hiding in it.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on The Mist?