A comparison of two Stephen King novels

Imagine the the first story–a middle class family moves to a small town in New England called Ludlow, Maine because the husband got a pretty good job. The house they move into is perfect–spacious and quiet, with nice neighbors around, and even a field where the kids can play. The only problem is–the house is situated next to a busy freeway, where trucks and cars of all sorts pass by every single day, blaring their horns and car exhaust.

But never mind that–the benefits of living in such a beautifully large home with kind neighbors puts the family at ease. It wasn’t until the husband is introduced to a local pet burying ground, just right behind the field, that things began to get weird.

First, their cat dies, then comes back to the house. Then the husband starts seeing things, and the neighbor tells him different tales of all the pets that have been buried at the pet cemetery. Not only that, he can’t stop thinking about what happened on his first day of work at a local university, when a man was brought into the infirmary where he works and dies in front of him.

Then more tragedy strikes. The man’s son gets hit by a car. By this time, he starts losing his mind. He talks himself into going to the boy’s grave, digging him up and bringing him back to life. The boy comes back to life but he’s not the same. He’s the devil, basically.

Creepy, right?

Now, imagine another story–a local man is charged with the brutal attack and murder of an adolescent boy. With strong DNA evidence, the police arrests him, and at the same time, publicly shaming him by doing it at a local sporting event, where he’s the head coach. All the while everyone’s wondering how is it possible for an upstanding citizen to have committed such a heinous crime.

This was an easy go-get-it kind of case. Except the man has a serious alibi that checks out. Halfway through the book, things get stranger and stranger. The police detective who arrested him could not stop the little boy’s brother from shooting the man, killing him, while he was in police custody. So he hires another detective, who hires another detective, and along with the man’s wife, his own wife, and a local lawyer, the group embarks on a mission to find out what really happened.

Turns out, it’s also the devil–this time, a Mexican legend called the el cuco, a monster that feeds on sadness. One thing happens, it takes its shape and turns itself into a person and commits hideous crimes (hence the reason why the man was framed), then transfers itself out of that body and moves onto the next victim.

And yes, you guessed it–this “monster” is destroyed near the end of the story…by a woman detective, with a “white thing” which turns out to be a sock. Okkaayyy.

To me, the first story resonated a lot more than the second one. The story about the family man who went crazy because of the pet cemetery behind his house (i.e. Pet Semetary) was most certainly more thrilling than the second story – The Outsiders – both written by Stephen King.

I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King, although to be honest with you, I’ve only read a small handful of his novels. The Outsiders came after I read Pet Semetary and found it quite thrilling and exciting. I felt tingles and goosebumps up and down my spine. I couldn’t handle the anticipation in Pet Semetary. I knew when the man started going crazy that something crazy was about to happen.

But for The Outsiders, while there are many similar elements to both novels–small, idyllic towns, a tight knit community, people who trust one another, creepy things happening that didn’t happen before–I thought that The Outsiders didn’t do much justice as far as keeping me entertained while reading it. I felt that the 576 pages were a little bit unnecessary. Perhaps it would’ve done fine with a hundred pages less, like Pet Sematary.

Not only that, the ending was a little uncertain. I was also quite disappointed that one of the main characters, Ralph Anderson, who made the decision to arrest an innocent man, didn’t die, but instead, the lawyer he worked with and another detective died in a shoot down out in the middle of small town’s abandoned and decrepit outdoor attraction. To me, this guy was a jerk and should’ve died.

Nonetheless, perhaps Stephen King had different intentions and kept him alive until the end on purpose. Whatever his intentions were, you’ll be much more satisfied with reading Pet Sematary than The Outsiders.

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