Review: Later by Stephen King


Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

#1 bestselling author Stephen King returns with a brand-new novel about the secrets we keep buried and the cost of unearthing them.

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. 

Review

Thanks to the publisher, author, and narrator for a listening copy of Later for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Later is a like taking IT and The Outsider and mashing it up with Odd Thomas. It is definitely lighter in tone than any one of those titles, but it really helps you wrap your head around what is about to unfold. Jamie is a definite stand-out when it comes to a juvenile protagonist taking charge of a narrative, especially considering he has to somewhat set his childhood to the side – you know, because of his “special ability” *wink wink*.

I really enjoyed the character of Jamie. There is something about a coming-of-age story, when it is done well, that just never seems to get old. I don’t know if it is nostalgia or the fact that kids are so naïve until life smacks them in the face, but dangit I am here for it if King writes it. In this story, Jamie has the naivety “trope” if you want to call it that, but he has also had to grow up very quickly in part due to his ability. This leads to an interesting dynamic because he is almost forced to act beyond his years, but still has all of these kiddy type qualities that remind you he is barely out of his toddler stage (and then beyond into his teens and early twenties as the story progresses).

This was a pretty short read at 252 pages (an even shorter listen, clocking at just over 6-1/2 hours) but was a completely enthralling and entertaining story that just about hits every King fan’s wants/needs from a new release. It’s always fun to spot the nods to earlier works that SK throws in; you know, those things that make you yell “YES. Y E S. YES” in a crowded room. Yeah… there are definitely some of those here. I also have to say that Seth Numrich did a phenomenal job with his narration. I have been so used to hearing Will Patton’s voice over the years, but I wouldn’t mind hearing Seth’s voice a little more often with King’s works in the future.

I haven’t had the opportunity to read any of King’s other Hard Case Crime titles like The Colorado Kid or Joyland as examples, but if they are anything like Later, I’ll definitely take a stab at them.

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