Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: Song of Susannah – Stephen King


Song of Susannah – Stephen King


The next-to-last novel in Stephen King's seven-volume magnum opus, Song of Susannah is at once a book of revelation, a fascinating key to the unfolding mystery of the Dark Tower, and a fast-paced story of double-barreled suspense.

To give birth to her "chap," demon-mother Mia has usurped the body of Susannah Dean and used the power of Black Thirteen to transport them to New York City in the summer of 1999. The city is strange to Susannah . . . and terrifying to the "daughter of none," who shares her body and mind.

It falls to Jake, Oy, and the fallen priest to find Susannah-Mia, who, in a struggle to cope with each other and with an alien environment "go todash" to Castle Discordia on the border of End-World. In that forsaken place, Mia reveals her origins, her purpose, and her fierce desire to mother whatever creature the two of them have carried to term.

Eddie and Roland, meanwhile, tumble into western Maine in the summer of 1977, a world that should be idyllic but isn't. For one thing, it is real, and the bullets are flying. For another, it is inhabited by the author of a novel called 'Salem's Lot, a writer who turns out to be as shocked by them as they are by him.

These are the simple vectors of a story rich in complexity and conflict. Its dual climaxes, one at the entrance to a deadly dining establishment and the other appended to the pages of a writer's journal, will leave readers gasping for the saga's final volume (which, Dear Reader, follows soon, say thank ya).

This is a review of book #6 in the Dark Tower series. The review is spoiler-free, but you might want to check out my thoughts on book #1 (The Gunslinger), book #2 (The Drawing of the Three), book #3 (The Waste Lands), book #4 (Wizard and Glass), and book #5 (Wolves of the Calla).  

Review: Roland’s group splits up after Mia hijacks Susannah’s body and vanishes through a doorway to the future. Jake and Father Callahan go after her while Eddie and Roland continue their search for the tower.

I admit that I was slightly biased against this book before starting it because Susannah is my least favorite character in the series. She has four different personalities living inside her body, and I’ve never gotten a good sense of who Susannah actually is. I know the other personalities better than I know her. This book didn’t help because Mia is in control of the body for most of it, so I still don’t feel like I know Susannah.

Song of Susannah is somewhat amazing and somewhat disappointing. Like the previous books, the worldbuilding is awesome. I love the scenes that take place at Castle Discordia. They’re so weird. I also love the name “Castle Discordia.”

Another awesome scene is the gun battle with Roland and Eddie at the gas station. It has all of the action and suspense that I missed in Wolves of the Calla (book 5). I was so happy to see the pacing of the series pick up again.

Unfortunately, I’m a little let down by Song of Susannah. Like the previous book, this one feels like it’s just setup and explanation for what’s going to happen in the last book. (The end of this series better be incredible if it requires 1,000+ pages of explanation.) My biggest problem with Song of Susannah is that nothing really happens. The story becomes more convoluted instead of clearer. The plot doesn’t advance very much, and the book ends right when things get interesting. Basically, it takes Susannah 400 pages to go from a hotel to a restaurant. I know that New York traffic is bad, but damn, that’s a long time. I was getting impatient.

Stephen King makes himself a character in this book. I have mixed feelings about that. It’s hilarious, but it’s also too meta for me. Seeing the characters interact with their creator really pulled me out of the story, and I had a hard time getting back into it.

Even though Song of Susannah disappointed me, I’m going to continue with the series. I love this world, and I’m way too invested in it to stop now.    

4 comments:

  1. Ah it does bother me when the books in the middle seem to all be preparing for the final book. It's almost like the author forgets that each individual book is important as well! But it seems like the world building and general story telling does make up for it a fair amount!

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    1. The world building is awesome, but I got bored with books 5 and 6 because nothing happened. I am looking forward to the next one, though.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I'm a total Stephen King junkie and his epic fantasy series (or whatever you may call it), is one of my favorites. I remember reading the series for the first time and getting stuck on volume 4 (I think) - the one with Roland's past explored in depth - and then going back to re-read the whole thing from start. I loved it. I absolutely LOVED it. It's such a well thought out series, it's really quite minblowing :D I never liked Susannah much, I liked Jake and Eddie much better. And, well, the dog, obviously :)

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up with GET SOCIAL this week - stop by next week, too!

    Evie @Bookish Lifestyle

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    1. I would like a book that focused on Jake or Eddie. I just can’t relate to Susannah, and I don’t understand what Eddie loves about her.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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