I think many of us wonder at any given moment what the worst possible situation is, giving rise to anxiety. What if that car speeding down the road veered into me? What if a random stranger just pulled down my pants and everyone laughed? What if, while i’m handcuffed to the bed for some kinky sexy fun time in a cabin away from anyone else, my partner dies of a heart attack?
Well, you’re in luck if you’ve pondered over the last one, because so has Stephen King, with Gerald’s Game.
Jessie and Gerald Burlingame decide to spend a weekend at their lakeside cabin for said kinky sexy fun time. After a heated argument and two swift kicks, Gerald finds himself dead, leaving Jessie stranded in handcuffs with only the voices in her head and the sounds of isolation. Only through her inner voices combating one another do we find out the kind of spirited woman Jessie is, and the shocking childhood memory she had skirted around most of her life.
There is quite a serious theme here, regarding her painful memory involving her father and the day the sky turned dark. It’s a real issue that affects many people, and kudos goes to King for handling it with care, and not trivialising it. I found that when these memories unfolded, at the behest of the “Jessie” voice in her head, I couldn’t put the book down. It was disturbing, much in the same way that you can’t turn away when you witness a car accident. This, and when Jessie was going through realistic situations of survival in that room, were the most compelling chapters.
However, as is par for the King course, after a while there might be a dabble into the supernatural. While usually I don’t mind, it doesn’t work when the first two thirds of the novel sets it up to be nothing but natural. Horrible, but not abnormal. I find it difficult to suspend disbelief when after 200 pages I’ve mostly established the world these events are taking place. Not to spoil the ending – which felt like it overstayed its welcome – but a certain rectification was a little tacked on.
Gerald’s Game shines in character development, though, with much of the book taking place in Jessie’s head. You really begin to understand her hardships and relationships with former friends though the multiple voices not letting her be. As this Saw-like trap bears down on her mentally and physically, you watch her transform into someone else, someone powerful.
A good book, with striking imagery, though it’s a shame some themes felt unnecessary.
And with finishing Gerald’s Game, I think I’m finally over the halfway mark with King’s backlog! That is, until he just released his new book, End of Watch. Well, better get to reading it. I’ll never catch up at the rate he pumps out books.