Humble Book Review – The Talisman

Recently, I decided to go back through all of Stephen King’s works and read them all. Although he probably doesn’t edge in on my top 3 books of all time, he is one of my favourite authors. Given his massive publicity through word of mouth, and particularly scores of film and TV adaptations, it’s very difficult to come across one of his books where you know nothing of the story.

That was The Talisman for me. Although I knew it was one of two collaborations with Peter Straub, I knew absolutely nothing of what it was about, and as far as I’m aware, there is no film or TV adaptation yet. Now that I’ve been able to experience something purely spoiler-free, I wish this could be the case for everything I experience in the future. If you want the same feeling, maybe don’t read any further, and believe me when I say it’s a good read. For those who want a bit more, here’s my thoughts…

The Talisman is the journey of a boy, Jack Sawyer, who crosses the country in order to save his mother’s life. On the surface of it all, nothing too fantastical. Until he discovers he can flip into this other cleaner, parallel world he comes to know as The Territories. In this place, there are still rulers, usurpers, wagons, and villains. There are people here who bear a strong resemblance to those in his own world; known as Twinners. Jack’s own mother has one, who happens to be the Queen of the Territories, who is also dying. In a race to save two (or more) worlds, Jack comes across terrifying obstacles, not all of which possess unfamiliar faces.

Interestingly enough, I see this as King’s beta version of The Dark Tower series. It bears a strong resemblance to it with regard to parallel worlds, and long journeys to save the destruction of them. There are quite a few nods to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which this novel borrows several themes from, whereas The Dark Tower seems to find its own footing. Just like LOTR, there are quite a few action packed scenarios, with classic King tension, but also there are points which seem a little flat and unnecessary. When King and Straub do well, though, they do very well. Some greatly memorable moments include Jack’s stay at the Sunlight home, and the assault on the Black Hotel.

They build up the characters so well in these places, and when they all converge, hell breaks loose.
Sometimes you wonder why some characters didn’t do ‘x’, which seemed like common sense, only for that option to be adequately excluded due to some snappy explanation. This is fine, however sometimes the character desires and actions seem either too erratic, or illogical.

Also, given that this novel was written by two authors, there doesn’t seem to be any changes in voice or plot at all; it is just as cohesive, if not more so, than any other novel.

Altogether it is a fun ride, at times very tense, with a satisfying conclusion. The sequel, Black House, seems like it has a great base novel to start from.

Stop Teasing the Teasers

Picture this; I’m sitting at home, on the couch, endlessly scrolling down the endless list of Youtube videos, trying to fill the day’s void. I then see something particularly enticing, a Star Wars: Rogue One Teaser.

Hey, I think, this will be pretty good! So I settle in, get comfy, and click the link. However, I don’t regard the finer details, such as the fact that it’s 11 seconds long, and it actually says ‘Teaser Preview’ in the title. Too late, I’m already into it.

Black. Fade to title. A two second shot of some sort of Stormtrooper. And then, an announcement; ‘Trailer Tomorrow’. End video. Most advertisements are longer than this.

What the hell, I settled in for this? Is the need for Youtube revenue so great that you need a video announcement for an announcement for the actual movie? The role of the Teaser is exactly that; to tease the movie, to show a few clips from it to induce hype from the legions of fans. Often, the teasers are only teasing the full movie trailers, which is yet another stepping stone in waiting for a movie. As long as the trailers don’t show every critical plot point of the movie itself (I’m looking at you, Batman vs Superman), then it’s okay. Why go see a movie when you’ve seen everything you need to from the comfort of home?

Well, die-hard fans will want to see it regardless. So, what about the majority of movie-goers that just want to see a good movie, without identifying as part of a fanbase? My advice would be to avoid movie trailers altogether. For all of the good cryptic trailers which give away nothing, like 10 Cloverfield Lane,  you’ve got another with everything spoiled, like Terminator Genisys. It’s now gotten to the point where some of my friends avoid trailers altogether, just so they get the unspoiled experience they deserve at the cinemas.

But I’m getting sidetracked. An 11 second online video is not needed for a 30 second teaser trailer, especially if it is coming out the very next day. With online hangouts like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, you don’t need these announcements. Everybody is going to see it anyway, especially if the teaser preview is posted in the exact same place as the teaser. Hype is only required when it’s for something to be released long into the future, to maintain fanbase excitement, in case people forget about them. Dwindling excitement is not so dramatic that you need to post a video one day prior to what you’re announcing.

There is a rising trend of this though, mainly perpetrated by Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Time will tell to see if it is a trend that continues, and breaches into other movie genres. Given the current status of youtube views (3.5M for the teaser preview on Rogue One, 19M for the teaser itself), it could go either way.

What are your thoughts on the tiny teaser previews? Yes or no?