Review of Later by Stephen King


Stephen King

March 2, 2021

Hard Case Crime

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave. 
LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel ItLATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

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So. Let’s see. It’s been…gulp…around 35 years (YEARS!) since I read a Stephen King novel. The last one was It, which is semi-ironic, -amusing, since the blurb says Later has echoes of It. In the past 35 years, I’ve grown up (somewhat; let’s not take the whole growing up thing too far), seen a lot, read a lot and written some. And, also, in that time I forgot that Stephen King is one helluva storyteller.

The story begins when Jamie Conklin is 6 years old. He sees dead people He makes it perfectly clear that he is not to be confused with that kid in the movie. His mother doesn’t really believe him until he tells her something he could not have known. She tells him that he should never tell anyone what he can do because they might use him for their own gains. Unfortunately she’s not as good at keeping secrets as he is.

Recently I had been thinking about older authors writing YA novels and whether they can really connect with those characters. Well, this novel showed me that it can be done well. Although told in retrospect, the narration grew as the character grew. Sullenness and off-color humor, yep, very teen-like.

I really enjoyed the character of Jamie Conklin. He was thoughtful and had to age before his time due to the things he saw. He also trusted, was a good son and friend. I definitely wouldn’t mind reading about him in any further novels–if there are any.

King ably paints his characters with multiple colors. We see the good and bad. They make mistakes. They are good. They lose their way.

His prose is simple but capable. He says just wants needs to be said. Gives us a picture so that we’re there but doesn’t over-embellish. He keeps us in the story. Invokes humor as needed. He makes it look so easy that you might be convinced that it is. I could almost imagine would-be writers saying: “What? I can write as well as that.” Heh. Try it.

I borrowed Later from the library and suspect I’ll return to see what else I’ve been missing in the past mumble-mumble years.

Have you read Later or any of King’s recent books? Let me know. Tell me what you’ve enjoyed. Thanks.



5 out of 5 butterflies

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