Thursday 4 February 2016
Devouring Stephen King: The Dark Tower VI- Song of Susannah
Before I begin to vaguely talk about this book because it's in the middle of a series and so spoilers- I wouldn't recommend, if you were planning to, reading the last books of The Dark Tower series so far apart. King essentially wrote the books one after the other and that's kind of how they should be read. When I first read the series, I finished all 7 in about a month (unemployment is intense, you guys) and it was the greatest and I wouldn't have been able to tell you that it had any flaws because oh my god. The series is so good you guys (for the record, I still believe that, at least). Reading them so far apart not only decreases the dramatic tension that these last three books genuinely have, but mean that Song of Susannah, as a stand alone book, does not fare well under scrutiny.
So. Wolves of the Calla ends with the disappearance of Susannah (is that a spoiler? That's probably a bit of a spoiler...) and Song of Susannah picks up right after that. As far as I can tell, all of the events of the book take place over one day, albeit a different day for each group of characters, and it... Is... Long. It's drawn out, it brings up a great deal of unnecessary information, only a fraction of which ever becomes relevant, and I just... I didn't need most of it. The three narratives interwoven in this book could more or less have been 3 or 4 chapters of another book, and I would have been fine with that.
This is, of course, an opinion I've formed only with hindsight and actually, partially because I want to finish this series and move ON with my Stephen King journey (11/22/63 awaits!) and so I suppose in some ways its not the pacing of the book that's at fault so much as the pacing I've been able to read these books at. Had I been racing through the series as I did before, I wouldn't have noticed the giant flaw of the fact that nothing happens in this book because of the things that happen in the book before and the book afterwards. I guess this is a symptom of series in general- some books are just going to be slower than others because some bigger events have to be saved for later (it's notable that the Half Blood Prince is probably the least event-y of the Harry Potter books, basically BECAUSE it's Harry being prepared for the final one, and maybe that's part of what's happening here, too).
Essentially though, I will say this about Song of Susannah- whilst I previously thought that Wizard and Glass was my least favourite Dark Tower book, this one has now made my shit list by excruciatingly labouring a couple of points and making a book out of them. Regardless, it's still part of a series that I love enduringly, and I appreciate it in that sense, whilst also considering it a bit of a fail as a stand-alone book. Since it doesn't have to stand alone, I guess that's ok, but since I read it alone, it's definitely not.