Three weeks of gray boys, SSDD, alien fungal infection, friendship, and so much more. Dreamcatcher kicks off the 2019 Hail to the King Reading Challenge with all of its 620 pages. I read this one in hardcover and it was a weighty book to haul around in my bag. Could I have read it on the Kindle? Sure. I didn’t. I own most of Mr. King’s books in print and I do like to take them down sometimes and read the actual book.
Aliens Return to Maine
Last month, before starting the Hail to the King challenge, I read The Tommyknockers, another story of alien invasion that took place in Haven.
Alien invasion takes another strange twist in Dreamcatcher.
It’s interesting. These aliens aren’t really aliens the way we imagine them to be or even perceive them to be. King takes the gray aliens from popular culture and changes them into something quite different over the course of the book. It's that twist—and the friendship between the main characters that made the story work for me.
King returns to aliens in several different books. Dreamcatcher isn’t a sequel to It but like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it exists in the King Universe alongside It and makes several references to that book (so did The Tommyknockers). King was creating his own universe long before MCU. Especially around the Dark Tower series, but in his other books too—there are connections and links to other books he has written. I think that's lots of fun. I enjoy it when authors play in big universes.
I enjoyed Dreamcatcher, even on rereading it. In a Rolling Stone interview, King said that he doesn't like it. He thought The Tommyknockers was awful. Okay. I get it. You do the best you can at the moment. When he wrote The Tommyknockers he hadn't cleaned up and gotten off drugs yet. It's a crazy book, but that's part of the fun. He wrote Dreamcatcher (by hand) after his accident. And he's probably write. King could—if he wanted—make both of these books even better. He's that good. But the author's experience isn't the same as the reader's. I wouldn't call either my favorite book of his, but I did enjoy both.
Trigger warning: Dreamcatcher’s Shit Weasels
One of the nasty little details of the whole book are the shit weasels—the byrum, alien parasites that grow within—and eat—the guts of their unfortunate victims. Think the chest-bursting xenomorph from Alien except this one isn't coming out of your chest. And it causes extreme flatulence before the end.
It is a detail that sticks with you. Rereading the book, it was one of the things that I knew was coming. I didn’t remember how long it took before anyone actually referred to them as shit weasels. But once named, it stuck.
These creatures are our nightmare parasites given form. It's gross. If that sort of thing turns you off a book—skip this one.
For Derry and the King Universe? I don’t know. There are many worlds, each with their own connections. In the Dreamcatcher world people know aliens exist–but apparently didn’t learn about it from the incident in Haven in The Tommyknockers.
As far as the Hail to the King challenge, next month brings Duma Key. It’s another big book, so I’d better start it soon.
If you’ve read Dreamcatcher, what did you think? Share your comments below.
And if you want to join the 2019 Hail to the King Reading Challenge and read a different Stephen King title each month, visit ryanwriter.link/kingchallenge-19 to join my readers' group and sign up. By joining my readers’ group Readinary, you’ll also receive emails from me and a free e-book Starter Library.