Becky’s One Hundred and Fourteenth Book Review: “Thinner” by Stephen King

It had to happen. I mean, it was inevitable. I’ve read a number of Stephen King novels, especially over the past year and I have enjoyed every one of them. Some of these were different degrees of enjoyment, but there was always an overall positive experience. It was bound to happen – I did not enjoy this book. Originally, “Thinner” was not published under Stephen King’s name. It was published under his pseudonym ‘Richard Bachman’ back in 1984. I wonder if he did this because he knew that it was not up to par with his other works. Maybe he didn’t feel that “Thinner” was good enjoy to be considered a Stephen King Novel. Or maybe it was just so that he could make a joke in the book about how ‘all this sounds like a Stephen King novel’. Really?

At this point, I am going to say if you have any desire to read the book, stop reading my review. It is going to contain a lot of spoilers.

What is “Thinner” about you ask? Well, let me tell you. In “Thinner” there is a man named Billy Halleck that is a morbidly obese lawyer. At the beginning of the book, he has just fought and won a case where he was charged with vehicular manslaughter. A woman walked out in the middle of the road while he was driving and he didn’t have time to stop. He hit and killed her. What actually happened was his wife, Heidi, was in the car with him and chose that moment to give him a handjob. He was distracted, and while he could have stopped, he didn’t react quickly enough. The woman who was killed was part of a band of traveling gypseys. As Billy exits the courthouse after getting off with a slap on the wrist, the father of the woman killed leans in close to Billy, strokes his cheek and whispers ‘thinner’. After that, Billy begins losing weight. It falls off rapidly and although he goes to the doctor with the thought that it might be cancer, the doctor cannot find the cause. Billy soon concludes that it is a gypsy curse that has caused this dramatic weight loss. This is further supported in Billy’s mind when the judge who let him off has his entire body covered in scales and the cop who let the charges against Billy be minimal came down with a horrific case of acne. Billy vows to find the gypsy who cursed him and make him take it off. His wife wants Billy to see some more doctors and eventually tries to commit him against his will. This not only causes Billy to turn against her, but his only child – Linda turns against her mom. He blames her in full for being the cause of the accident that got him in this mess in the first place. As she worries about him and his weight loss, he builds up a mountain of hate for her. When Billy finally catches up with the gypsy who cursed him and (with some help from a mob friend) is able to get him to ‘take it off’ Billy finds out it is the kind of thing that cannot be gotten rid of, but only transferred. So the gypsy makes a pie, uses some of Billy’s blood to ‘take it off’ and tells Billy he has to get someone else to eat the pie within a few days or the curse will revert back to him. Billy heads home with the pie with the intention of having Heidi eat it. He even takes the precaution of calling his daughter and telling her to not come home for a bit so that she isn’t around when this happens to her mom. The pie is brought into the house and Heidi is very excited by it – Strawberry pie is her favorite and she feels that the pie is a peace offering from Billy. He goes to bed and she stays up to have some pie. In the morning, Billy goes downstairs to discover two plates and two forks in the sink and discovers that his precious daughter, Linda, came home early to make up with her mom. They ate the pie together. So Billy decides to eat it as well to join his family in death.

I’m not sure where I hoped the story would end up, but I really did not enjoy it. Maybe it was the fact that Billy was able to so quickly turn against his wife. Turn against her to the point where he was willing to transfer his curse to her. Maybe it was the fact that he went through so much just to die from the curse anyway. Either way, I will not be recommending this book to anyone. It was rather disappointing.

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