Misery by Stephen King

Posted 23 June, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 23 Comments

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Misery Cover ReadalongTitle: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Lindsay Crouse
Published: 1987 | Pages: 352
Audio Duration: 12 hr, 11 min
Genre: Fiction
Rating: Holy Freakin’ Psycho Woman!

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Bestselling author Paul Sheldon is saved by his number one fan after crashing his car in a snow storm. Sweet Annie Wilkes helps nurse Sheldon back to health while he writes the next installment to her favorite book series. Bahahahahaha.

Why I Read Misery: For Care’s Misery Readalong! I can’t pass up a good King readalong. If you want to join us in some King-sized fun, we’ll be reading Salem’s Lot this fall (I think October).

Thoughts in General: Even though I never saw the movie in full, it’s hard to ignore Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes when reading Misery. This one is written in third person so we don’t get to see Annie’s inner thoughts (which I so wish we could read this account from her perspective!), but Stephen King does a fantastic job of capturing her cookadoodie insanity–Annie really is everything that is frightening about Misery. Paul Sheldon is a dud in comparison and one of my least favorite of King’s protagonists.

Misery had a slow start for me and there were bits that I tuned out–I’m never a big fan of a story within a story (in this case, the book Sheldon is writing for Annie), but once the book picked up…I’d say right around the mark that we all think we know based on the very famous scene in the movie…there was no slow down until the very end. And while I think King sometimes struggles with his endings (I mentioned this a bit in my Pet Sematary post), I think Misery is my favorite ending of all. In fact, it might have propelled my ranking in my overall King hierarchy if the whole book had been more like this (vague, I know).

Less vague: One thing that King does well is to perfectly portray fear so that it is draped like a cloak over it’s readers (or at least this one). You know that feeling when you enter an empty and dark room and your mind tricks you into seeing something that isn’t there? The way that your body reacts–pin prickles on your neck or a cold sweat? King describes this feeling so well that I sometimes feel paralyzed when reading these accounts in the book. While I’m a chicken and don’t necessarily like being scared, there’s also something so delicious in these moments of reading. For me this is how IT was–those opening moments of the book when the little boy is walking down the stairs to the basement–classic fear! This type of moment popped up in the end of the book and I would have loved to have had more of this throughout the whole of the book.

There’s another brilliant moment in the book when Paul Sheldon is considering the mania that certain readers feel about the characters in the books they read–they mourn when they pass away as though they are real. This made me think of the books I’ve read where I laid in bed and sobbed after closing the last pages–grief stricken over what happened to my characters. I loved the way that King described this feeling and it made me feel just a little bit less alone in my bookish nuttiness…not that I’m quite the Number One Fan that Ms. Annie Wilkes is!

Bottom Line: A fun and frightening ride! If you’re looking for an introduction to King, this is a great place to start–there isn’t any horror, though there is some horrific stuff that happens in the book–it’s more of a thriller than one that will keep you up at night. Misery will keep you on your toes and it’s short enough to devour quickly. So glad to have read this one!

Notes on the Audio: I mostly listened to the audiobook so that I could devour Misery more quickly. I listened on 1.5x speed and Crouse did a fine job of narrating, but there were weird musical interludes instead of chapter breaks and I found it difficult to pop back and forth between audio and book because of this. I can’t understand why the actual chapter numbers weren’t announced in the audio production!

And a video that was shared on the twitter #MiseryRAL thread. After getting to know Annie, I was brought to tears by this video. If you’re not familiar, it might not have the same effect…Scott just looked at me like I was crazy. But see it out…the ending is the best (you could fast forward the first 30 seconds or so).

Thank you Care for a great readalong! Loved the songs you shared with us on Twitter and the poem you wrote for us on the blog.

Have you read Misery or seen the movie? You up for Salem’s Lot this fall??



23 Responses to “Misery by Stephen King”

  1. Yay for Annie! Yay for Paul! and Yay for Misery the Pig! (I really thought there would be more of her in the book.)

  2. I think the book’s too scary for me. I can’t believe no one in the bookstore knew what was going on with the video. I haven’t read the book but knew what was going on from the beginning.

    • It is a little intense, but not scary in the monsters under the bed sense. Though nothing will top 11/22/63 as my favorite!!

  3. Kay

    Not one of my favorite King books. However, if you’re going to read ‘Salem’s Lot in the fall, I might want to join in. I loved that one and haven’t read it in years and years and years. In fact, don’t think I’ve ever reread it since the first time.

  4. I had a lot of fun with this read along, too, and did just what you did using audio to get through it faster. I listened to a version on YouTube and I think there were some cuts and blips, so I had to check my hardcover a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything!

    I’ve never read ‘Salem’s Lot—I’ll keep that on my list for October. :)

  5. So that was a strange video…haha. It’s been about 20 years since I read Misery but I still remember several moments and phrases perfectly. It was an incredibly vivid and memorable book!!

  6. I read Misery years ago before the movie came out. I enjoyed it. I do enjoy King’s books but they are never on the top of tbr list. I don’t know why. Just have to be in the mood I guess.

  7. Ti

    I somehow missed that video!

    I was surprised how much I had forgotten about the book itself. The movie details were fresh, very fresh even though I last saw the movie maybe two years ago but sure, I’ve seen it more than once. Maybe 5 times at least. But the book, when I got to that one part I was like… really?? Totally forgot how different it was from the film.

  8. I cannot read another King at this time, I’m too old to not sleep ever again. I’m still looking around the train when someone coughs, after The Stand.

  9. I tried listening to the audio book, but the story moved too slow for me even at 1.5x especially at the Misery parts. I think I might try the book another time. I agree that video must be a set-up, but it gave me a giggle.

  10. Just watched this at work and was laughing out loud. Coworkers are looking at me like “What??”
    I gave it the good college try but couldn’t finish it. The only King book I would try is Salem’s Lot so I’m in for the fall. That will complete my King list forever. Glad you enjoyed the book Trish. You are a super King fan, but definitely not his #1.

  11. I’ve never read a Stephen King book … or, I should say, I’ve never gotten through one. I remember trying to adult when I was younger and I’d try reading them, books like Needful Things come to mind, but only getting about halfway through. I wonder if listening on audio would be better? What would be a good book for a Stephen King newbie?

    • I started with The Stand but wish that I had read that one later on because it keeps falling in my list of favorite King books. 11/22/63 is my absolute favorite and Under the Dome was good, too. But maybe start off with something shorter–this is actually a good one! Some people suggest The Shining, which wasn’t one of my favorites. IT is my favorite horror of his–Pet Sematary was good, too. Um…I’ll shut up now. ;)

  12. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I get it now! I’d seen that B&N video before but didn’t have a clue about Misery, or Paul Sheldon, or Annie Wilks! I’m finally in on the joke! I wish I’d been able to do the IT readalong, but I just read Salem’s Lot a few years ago, so I don’t know if I’ll join in October. I’m thinking I just need to read IT and Finders Keepers for now, but who knows? I may not be able to resist.