Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Pet SemataryPet Sematary by Stephen King

My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

Believe it or not, after 700+ books read (and I know there’s at least 100 I’ve forgotten to review over the years), I’ve never read a Stephen King novel. I’ve seen a few movies and enjoyed them (Dolores Claiborne, Misery, It, Carrie, The Shining) but never actually read one. Yep, I’m a loser, I know it… okay, done yelling at me? Let’s get on to the review…

So… I had in my mind a certain expectation of this book. I knew it was about animals coming back to life. I knew it was about a pet cemetery. I knew it had some religious overtones. I knew it took place in Maine. That’s about it. I expected gore and horror. I looked forward to it, if I’m being honest. Then I read the book, and it probably met about 50% of those expectations in a good way. The rest, not so much… I didn’t absolutely love it, but I also didn’t dislike it. I can see why it’s beloved, but I’m not comfortable allotting more than 4 stars.

I won’t summarize the plot because I’ve already said enough that I’m sure you can figure out what goes on. Ultimately, there was a lot more religion in the book than I expected. Maybe spiritualism is more appropriate. It wasn’t a bad thing, but I felt it was either too much or too little in some places. I wanted to see it projected from rooftops in certain points, but it fell light, for instance, in terms of the connection to a Native American tribe that was brutalized years ago in the area where the main protagonist family buys a house. A lot was noted, or perhaps skim-covered (my made-up word for today) so you could imagine what once happened, but I wanted to see more of that vivid detail dripping from the pages to truly shock and scare me. It was written nearly 40 years ago, so perhaps that wasn’t quite the right time frame, but ultimately it fell a little short in this area.

As characters, the family was great. I loved the way the relationship between the husband and wife played out. True to some behaviors from the 1980s, women weren’t treated fairly, so I overlooked that but also respected it was true to the time period. My favorite character was the wife. When she described what happened to her sister when they were children, I thought it was a combination of the Exorcist and Poltergeist all wrapped in one — that was a chilling scene. The interaction among the children with the neighbor, grandparents, and parents was electrifying at moments. Sometimes it was light and fluffy, but those scenes were needed to draw a distinct comparison when things got volatile.

The main character often talks to someone in his head or talks out loud. I found myself trying to figure out who it was all along. I’m not sure how important that aspect was, other than to scare us. Which it did at times, just not enough with a fully rounded answer in the end to make me go “OMG” when it all came together. The writing was good and highly descriptive, but at times, it was too wordy. I think the book was a little longer because some scenes were painfully drawn out when it might have been a stronger read if there was some erratic dialog or narrative prose. It works as it is, but to pop a bit more, I think it needed that missing jagged edge.

It’s a psychological story. If you allow yourself to believe and invest, you will be alarmed and scared. If you are looking solely for amazing crazy things to happen, it’s not there. I liked how this was handled because there were at least 10 scenes that really make you freak out / turn the pages quickly. I skimmed some lines just to get to the ‘what’s going on here’ moment but I would’ve rather slowed down and read something scary with each single step.

It’s made me a fan of the writing. I was already a fan of the story and plot. King’s good, I can totally see it… but this probably wasn’t his best work. I’m placing bets on Misery or Dolores Claiborne… which I need to read soon! What made this a really fun read is that I buddy read with my pal, Medhat, and we could chat about it each day we’re reading along together! I can’t wait to see his review and will link it up once it’s published.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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30 comments

  1. Probably the only book and film by King that both scared the hell out of me. Great review. I agree about the two sisters. That part messed with my head for weeks after I finished this book, though it definitely haunted me for years. I’ve never been able to reread the book or see the film more than once.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No! You? Skimming? LOL So I am not the only one skimming sometimes when I feel too tense and “I want to know what will happen next”? Fantastic review Jay ;-))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a huge King fan, as you know (I know weird for an old lady, but I’ve been reading him since I taught 8th graders, and we read and discussed them together.) If you want to read something really dense, read It, just IT, really scary, but filled with symbolism, multiple themes and gross description. But if you want a masterpiece, read The Dark Tower series or The Stand. He always writes about good vs. evil. If you want a recent stand-alone (sort of) try Dr. Sleep (It is better if you have read (or seen the great Jack Nichols’ film) “The Shining,” it’s easier and more complete.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just related to this post way too much. I just finished pet sem, my first Stephen king book. I agree with you that Rachel discussing Zelda was a chilling scene and Stephen has written very well. What do you think about the ending though?…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! I love endings that are 100% concrete. Cliffhangers are okay, too. But when it’s vague, and open to so much interpretation, I get a bit frustrated. This wasn’t too painful, but I wanted a different kind of closure. You?

      Like

      • I see a book as a complete art so am usually satisfied with writer’s decision. But really what would you have liked to happen? And tbh, what do you think happens? Rachel kills Louis or what? If yes isn’t it so dangerous. Or what Louis thinks turns out true. The novel has so many hints like when Louis looked back and stuff to make it seem that he lives on but then what about the evil forces or whatever?
        Honestly, I went a bit wild 👆. 😋Don’t mind me. Too bookish to be normal. Lol. Thanks for replying though

        Liked by 1 person

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