Elevationby Published 30 Oct 2018
Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.
In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face—including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.
This was... really disappointing.
I love a good Stephen King book. From the classics like The Shining and Carrie, to the recent The Outsider and Sleeping Beauties, I just think he's a really great storyteller with a knack for strong character development. But Elevation didn't even feel like a King story to me.
The characters in this story are such one-dimensional stereotypes. I know it's a novella, but maybe it shouldn't be if you can't write some life into your characters in less than 200 pages. Scott Carey is a bland Good Guy™ who trips over himself trying not to offend anyone or make a fuss even when his body is literally becoming weightless. The vegetarian Lesbian Couple™ are made up of sweet foodie Missy, and abrasive runner Deirdre. Side characters play the role of Homophobic Trumpers™ and Benevolent Doctor™.
Elevation's story is a little weak, too. Scott finds he is losing more and more weight, even though his body isn't getting any smaller. He also has the curious ability to render weightless the people and things he touches. With his weight decreasing every day, he is forced to consider-- what happens when he reaches zero?
It could have been interesting, but I felt the direction the story took was unsatisfying. Scott's bizarre condition ends up bringing people together - the gay couple and the homophobes - in a way which was too heavy-handed and overly-neat for my tastes. Unlike some readers, I like that King is political in his books and I have no problem with him dropping in a Trump insult or two, but the political message here felt forced and poorly-done.
"Why can't we all just get along?" is a sweet message - and perhaps one we need right now - but it needs a better story and fewer stereotypical characters to save it from being too sentimental and contrived. It doesn't get that here.
Also: I have no idea why this book is categorized as "horror".
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Please read this review *after* you've read this book for yourself. For some brief, non spoilerly thoughts, I did a mini review on my Instagram.
SPOILERS & PLOT DETAILS BELOW
I'm always excited when I hear of a new Stephen King book (of any length, genre, collaboration, collection) hitting the market. I like to wait until the day it releases to go to my local bookstore and find it--this time I went to the University of Washington, Tacoma campus bookstore to buy it. Exciting times. I was surprised by its cute, compact size and attractive cover design. Sidenote: It's a bitch to photograph with its very shiny dust jacket.
Also surprising is that somehow I managed to avoid reading any plot summaries for this one. I knew it was a novella but I wasn't temped to read more about it.
I read the inside flap in the car on the way home from the bookstore and my heart sank a little.
"but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble."
To be perfectly honest, I've grown a bit weary of Stephen King and Joe Hill's political commentary in their stories. It's not because I don't want to hear it or that I believe we should keep our real lives and fiction separate (although reading is a break from it all and a necessary reprieve so it is an intrusion when I desire to unplug from the negativity) but it's because I don't find Hill or King to be very good at mixing their fiction and politics. They lack finesse. It's too obvious and too cliched. *Super* heavy handed.
ELEVATION, for example is stuffed with ridiculous cliches and stereotypes.
Vegetarian, jogging lesbian couple where one partner is "icy cold" and the other one is "fragile"?
Close-minded "Trumpians" who won't support a restaurant because a gay married couple own it?
Bad blood between neighbors because of dogs pooping on the lawn?
A kindly retired doctor with savory advice? A do-gooder with a mysterious illness and an agenda to save his town from homophobia--can't we all just get along??! It's this nice man's dying wish!!
This story was so thin the politics stuck out like a sore thumb. Literally zero backstory of any of the characters. I didn't care about anyone to the point of investing or caring about what would happen.
(For a better horror story celebrating gay marriage-read A CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay. Tremblay perfectly painted a beautiful family with loving, meticulous detail and really approached the subject with normative subtlety so that it felt authentic and real not a poster gay couple to preach the author's politics-but REAL PEOPLE)
Another pet peeve of mine was how many times the main character ogled the physical attributes of the lesbian couple-their legs, their form fitting clothes, their short shorts, their hair, their eyes...ALWAYS THEIR LEGS. Really annoying and unnecessary. It was as if King didn't know how to describe the women's looks without doing it through the eyes of a man who is attracted to them. Lame.
It was so lame I began marking in my book every time I saw it.
Anyways, this was a huge disappointment. King is very vocal about his political opinions, which is fine, I just wish he'd save it for his Twitter and write in his wheelhouse.
PS. NOT HORROR. I have no idea why it was nominated for best horror.
Feel-good novel of the year? Here Stephen King steps aside from horror to write a poignant little novella on unity, tolerance and rising above the fray. Of course there is also a supernatural twist. For me it works because of its brevity and not in spite of it. Just enough is explained to inspire reflection, without ever getting too political or caught up in unnecessary adventure. The ending image is mesmerizing. I love the emotional finality of it, although I'm not entirely sure how to interpret it. Anybody want to start a discussion?
As an aside, I feel the audio version is a must. Stephen King narrates it himself and the added personal touch enriches the experience. Also, the audio version includes a bonus short story called Laurie (also read by King) that was published for free on his website a while back. It's an okay story, not amazing on its own, but meshes well with the themes of Elevation.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: the fact that this won this years goodreads choice award for horror, when this book is NOT a horror story by any means (!!!!!), is the biggest scandal of 2018. dont @ me.
for me, the story is very bland. stephen king is meant to be this legend of a novelist, so for there not to be any sort of depth to the characters or plot is very disappointing, as well as surprising. and i think he tried to hide the lack of substance behind his own political statements/agenda.
i mean, i guess i could understand if this was included in a collection of short stories, but i just didnt see much that justified being published as a small standalone for $19.95. it seems a bit excessive, not to mention pointless.
overall, im pretty bummed this isnt as uplifting as i was hoping it would be (it honestly had a lot of potential). but at least its short and added a count towards my reading challenge for the year. so i guess theres that.
↠ 2.5 stars
I'm crowning this book The Worst Thing Stephen King has Ever Published.
Die-hard conservatives are going to hate ELEVATION because of the gender politics. SJWs are going to hate it because the LGBTQ characters in the book literally need a straight cis white man to help them win. Everyone else will hate it because it's god-fucked boring.
In summation: This tone-deaf pile of anal drippings reeks of desperation. Trying to please everyone usually does.
Final Judgment: A CHRISTMAS CAROL but Scrooge is never bad, just misunderstood.