"How foolish it is to write, what a pitiful bulwark against the world's hard realities and bitter home truths. How terrible to say 'This is all I have.'"
I've been working my way through Stephen King's complete works for nearly 3 years now (I know. I know) and I'm about 2/3 of the way through. I'm not trying to say this to impress you (although, that is a total of 43 books so far, so BE IMPRESSED) but to try and show you how ridiculous it is that I read The Plant. This book actually didn't make it onto my original list because Wikipedia told me that it was unfinished (which is true) and so I figured it could be skipped and forgot about it. THEN my internet friend who is also reading All The King (because we're cool like that) asked if I was going to read The Plant or Dreamcatcher next.
And, because I have really unfond memories of Dreamcatcher (I can't be specific about it, because I don't really remember much about it, but I do remember that I hate it) I grasped at any opportunity to put off reading it whilst still moving forward with the King thing.
So, The Plant. Wikipedia was correct about it being unfinished, but there's still a fair bit to read and it has quite a few merits that I think make it worth a read. It was originally published on Stephen King's website, in six separate instalments, where people were asked to pay $1 per part via the honour system (the whole thing can now be downloaded for free on Stephen King's website here) but was never finished, possibly because King said he'd stop writing it if the amount of paying customers fell below 75% (which they did) or possibly for some other reason I can't even be bothered to make up right now. Maybe bunnies.*
ANYWAY. The Plant. It's an epistolatory start-of-a-novel** set in New York City- a place I'm not convinced King is very fond of based on previous experience and this book especially. A small publishing company that's failing has gotten on the wrong side of an INSANE cult member/terrible writer, and for his revenge he sends a plant (THE Plant) that has all kinds of powers that are pretty complicated. To wit- the plant actually does good things for you, UNTIL certain things happen to it, when it turns on you pretty fast/possibly eats you (the story, as it is so far, ends before the plant turns bad, which was obviously going to happen, so I can't really tell you exactly what it does. But I'm sure it was nasty.)
If I'm honest, The Plant takes a long time to get going, which is especially frustrating when you know there isn't that much of it. Probably the first three instalments aren't that great (although, each section does have a cliffhanger at the end of it, as all serial novels should) or at least aren't very action filled or thrilling. But, to be fair, that's not something I would have noticed if there had been more story, or it at least wouldn't annoy me so much.
The second half, though, is where things really pick up, and there are so many things hinted at and just begging to be developed that it makes me want to go over to Maine and shake King a tiny bit and make him WRITE THE REST. DO IT NOW. The end of the sixth part is especially intriguing because there's a big shift in... things, and I can think of a few different ways it could go from that point, all of them good and one of them especially interesting. Basically I'm writing the rest of the story in my head because I can't really leave it where it is. Too too much to think about.
The Plant is free, takes only a few to read, and is much better than I remember Dreamcatcher being. It's obviously the only choice if you're reading all of his stuff and you don't want to read Dreamcatcher, but I think it's also worth your time and attention even if not. Unless you're someone who CAN'T leave a book unfinished (because this will drive you crazy), it's an interesting, fairly scary tale of ambition and botany and publishing that you can carry in your brain and attempt to continue in your own time.
Or we can all do that thing where we harass Stephen King in Maine/on twitter. You decide which.
*I got basically alllll this information from Wikipedia. Just covering my arse here, plagiarism-wise.
**Half-novel? I don't know how long the whole thing would have been...