Once you've read The Outsider - here there be SPOILERS

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Neil W

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2008
1,203
2,581
Isle of Wight UK
#1
Genuinely - read no further if you want to avoid spoilers.

When a boy is raped with a tree branch and savagely murdered, fingerprints, witnesses and DNA point to the much-loved local kids' baseball coach, and he is very publically arrested. It turns out that he has a solid alibi. Then tragedy strikes.

Stephen King sets up a fabulous crime mystery before the book steps away from the crime mystery into more familiar King territory. I enjoyed it nonetheless: the characters, dialogue and texture are as rich as usual, and it is exciting and full of incident. I was a little disappointed that it didn't solve its own conundrum by the rules it appeared to have set out under - truth be told, I would have loved it to have been a straightforward crime thriller without a supernatural element, no matter how well done - but it's Stephen King, you know what you're getting.

And the wonderful Holly Gibney from the Mr Mercedes trilogy shows up and plays a major part, so there's that.

Oh, and I was blown away by the coach's death - didn't see that coming at all.
 

Marty Coslaw

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2018
45
174
32
DC
#6
I love the reference to "Here There Be Tygers." I just finished! I saw a lot of parallels to other books in The Outsider. The mention of "ka" is a reference to the Dark Tower, I assume (still haven't read those)? I was also reminded of IT, both in the villain and in the group confrontation at the Marysville Hole. Also, I felt like it was similar to Doctor Sleep. Also, is it coincidence that the detective shares a name with the child from Storm of the Century?
 

Marty Coslaw

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2018
45
174
32
DC
#7
Genuinely - read no further if you want to avoid spoilers.

When a boy is raped with a tree branch and savagely murdered, fingerprints, witnesses and DNA point to the much-loved local kids' baseball coach, and he is very publically arrested. It turns out that he has a solid alibi. Then tragedy strikes.

Stephen King sets up a fabulous crime mystery before the book steps away from the crime mystery into more familiar King territory. I enjoyed it nonetheless: the characters, dialogue and texture are as rich as usual, and it is exciting and full of incident. I was a little disappointed that it didn't solve its own conundrum by the rules it appeared to have set out under - truth be told, I would have loved it to have been a straightforward crime thriller without a supernatural element, no matter how well done - but it's Stephen King, you know what you're getting.

And the wonderful Holly Gibney from the Mr Mercedes trilogy shows up and plays a major part, so there's that.

Oh, and I was blown away by the coach's death - didn't see that coming at all.
I have to agree that I felt a discontinuity or asymmetry in the "rules," not so much because of the supernatural element but because Holly shows up so late that it becomes a different story. I had similar feelings about Finders Keepers (which I still greatly enjoyed), and worried that the rumored future Holly Gibney book would be similar. Ralph was fine, but between him and Howie and Alec and Sablo, they all seemed a little diluted to me. Same with Jack and El Cuco, I thought they were less powerful (effective) because we're really only faced with them at the very end. And whether he was influenced by an ancient evil or not, I had a hard time buying that Jack was so eager to kill a fellow officer for giving him a bad performance review and cutting his fishing trip short. I mean, nobody wants their skin to rot off, so there was that.
 

Coolallosaurus

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2018
143
824
#10
I got the book on Thursday as a reward for meeting a writing goal. Mowed through it in four days. It was a fun, fast read and I am so excited the boards are open again so I can join the discussion! Below are some thoughts and some wild, non-scholarly, just-for-fun speculation (all of the spoilers follow).


I do agree that it felt like two different novels (one in the Bill Hodges trilogy universe and the other in the world of It). I definitely thought the novel was going in the direction of Hitchcock's The Wrong Man up until that courthouse scene. I was so excited to see Holly make a kick butt return and save everyone! It's been fun to see SK develop Holly as a character over the course of four novels.

I enjoyed Oklahoma and Texas settings. King really gets the heat, dust, rattlesnakes, and desolation of the midwest and south.

When Holly and Ralph confront the outsider, and he asked if they had seen others like him, I read that as potential for a connection with Pennywise and Derry. They both have that link to creepy-crawly creatures (spiders and worms), living off of fear of the innocent, and shapeshifting. The outsider's control of Jack also reminded me of Pennywise's control of the adult Henry Bowers. Maybe Pennywise and the outsider are cousins? Imagine that family reunion!

The ending felt very, very neat. Almost too neat, which makes me wonder if there is potential for more to come. While Holly and Ralph escaped without worms, and while the creatures seemed to be dying, the fact that Holly and Ralph didn't seal the cave after they left seems to leave possibilities open (i.e. one of the worms made it after all and got in to the Texas HP who went into the cave). Ralph's nightmare with the worm in the bathroom felt like a Stranger Things nod (from the final episode of the first season). If that's the case, the moment from Stranger Things being referenced led to a second season, so who knows with The Outsider. I realize a lot of SK's novels are open-ended enough to be continued, so more than likely The Outsider is it's own closed circuit and I am just having a lot of fun with speculation.

SK raises some interesting questions about belief, the supernatural, evil, and the empirical nature of evidence. I marked up a number of really lovely quotes about how most people understand the evil acts of humanity as falling within the natural realm of understanding (rather than supernatural). The quotes might be useful for teasing out a discussion about genre (horror, supernatural, mystery, suspense, crime fiction, true crime, etc . . . )

All of the references were fun! I had never read "William Wilson" before (not much of a poe person), so that's now on my list. Until Jeannie's reference to Poe, I was thinking of Dostoevsky's The Double. I didn't realize "William Wilson" pre-dates The Double by about five years. I am also going to have to check out Partners in Crime as I had not encountered Tommy and Tuppence before although, I do appreciate the X-files style pairing of disbelieving Ralph and open to the supernatural Jeannie. Dracula was an interesting reference I wasn't expecting, but it ended up making sense with Jack.

And, speaking of books, SK makes an appearance through the avatar of Harlan Coben, the popular mystery writer. Terry wants to go down to the conference for Coben and because the theme was about teaching popular adult literature which has "been a hot-button issue for years" (The Outsider 87). Coben is known for his good plots, and his quote is similar to SK's advice in On Writing. Here's SK's advice about profanity: "I'm not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful" (On Writing 110).

I got a bit of a Fargo vibe from Betsy Riggins although I am probably reading too much into the pregnant detective investigating gruesome murder connection (didn't really see it come up anywhere else).

Overall I enjoyed the novel but I probably won't assign it for my class. I may, however, give my students the opportunity to read the novel in a "choose your own adventure" assignment. Did anyone reading this think otherwise, that the novel is a must in a SK class?
 
May 15, 2018
142
642
23
Australia
#12
Just finished it yesterday, I quite enjoyed it. It was nice to see Holly again, though I have to say I was a little disappointed by the ending. I think I just wanted it to go on longer, I guess I wanted to see them spend some more time with El Cuco. Overall though I still really enjoyed it :) Even though I knew character death was coming at the end, I was still a little bummed out. I've really got to stop getting attached to his character's :rofl: I got a Desperation vibe at the end, was keeping an eye out for a Tak reference. :p

Am I the only one who thought of Reuel Gardener's twinner from the talisman when the worms appeared?
 

ghost19

"Have I run too far to get home?"
Sep 25, 2011
8,187
50,146
45
Arkansas
#13
Loved the book from start to finish. Got a bit of a Dr. Sleep feel from the shapeshifter, kind of a True Knot type vibe, do ya ken? Mainly because the outsider preferred to kill children like the true knot members did and “drink” their essence, sorrow, and pain. Sounds like it was taking steam maybe? A wonderful book, cover to cover.
 

Coolallosaurus

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2018
143
824
#16
I got the book on Thursday as a reward for meeting a writing goal. Mowed through it in four days. It was a fun, fast read and I am so excited the boards are open again so I can join the discussion! Below are some thoughts and some wild, non-scholarly, just-for-fun speculation (all of the spoilers follow).


I do agree that it felt like two different novels (one in the Bill Hodges trilogy universe and the other in the world of It). I definitely thought the novel was going in the direction of Hitchcock's The Wrong Man up until that courthouse scene. I was so excited to see Holly make a kick butt return and save everyone! It's been fun to see SK develop Holly as a character over the course of four novels.

I enjoyed Oklahoma and Texas settings. King really gets the heat, dust, rattlesnakes, and desolation of the midwest and south.

When Holly and Ralph confront the outsider, and he asked if they had seen others like him, I read that as potential for a connection with Pennywise and Derry. They both have that link to creepy-crawly creatures (spiders and worms), living off of fear of the innocent, and shapeshifting. The outsider's control of Jack also reminded me of Pennywise's control of the adult Henry Bowers. Maybe Pennywise and the outsider are cousins? Imagine that family reunion!

The ending felt very, very neat. Almost too neat, which makes me wonder if there is potential for more to come. While Holly and Ralph escaped without worms, and while the creatures seemed to be dying, the fact that Holly and Ralph didn't seal the cave after they left seems to leave possibilities open (i.e. one of the worms made it after all and got in to the Texas HP who went into the cave). Ralph's nightmare with the worm in the bathroom felt like a Stranger Things nod (from the final episode of the first season). If that's the case, the moment from Stranger Things being referenced led to a second season, so who knows with The Outsider. I realize a lot of SK's novels are open-ended enough to be continued, so more than likely The Outsider is it's own closed circuit and I am just having a lot of fun with speculation.

SK raises some interesting questions about belief, the supernatural, evil, and the empirical nature of evidence. I marked up a number of really lovely quotes about how most people understand the evil acts of humanity as falling within the natural realm of understanding (rather than supernatural). The quotes might be useful for teasing out a discussion about genre (horror, supernatural, mystery, suspense, crime fiction, true crime, etc . . . )

All of the references were fun! I had never read "William Wilson" before (not much of a poe person), so that's now on my list. Until Jeannie's reference to Poe, I was thinking of Dostoevsky's The Double. I didn't realize "William Wilson" pre-dates The Double by about five years. I am also going to have to check out Partners in Crime as I had not encountered Tommy and Tuppence before although, I do appreciate the X-files style pairing of disbelieving Ralph and open to the supernatural Jeannie. Dracula was an interesting reference I wasn't expecting, but it ended up making sense with Jack.

And, speaking of books, SK makes an appearance through the avatar of Harlan Coben, the popular mystery writer. Terry wants to go down to the conference for Coben and because the theme was about teaching popular adult literature which has "been a hot-button issue for years" (The Outsider 87). Coben is known for his good plots, and his quote is similar to SK's advice in On Writing. Here's SK's advice about profanity: "I'm not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful" (On Writing 110).

I got a bit of a Fargo vibe from Betsy Riggins although I am probably reading too much into the pregnant detective investigating gruesome murder connection (didn't really see it come up anywhere else).

Overall I enjoyed the novel but I probably won't assign it for my class. I may, however, give my students the opportunity to read the novel in a "choose your own adventure" assignment. Did anyone reading this think otherwise, that the novel is a must in a SK class?

On another note, I was at a library book sale today, and learned that Harlan Coben is an actual person when I found a whole box of his books. I had to do a double take because the name sounded so familiar, but I couldn't place it immediately. Needless to say, my wild speculation was very wild indeed. SK is probably the most contemporary author I've read in a really long time, so I was totally out of the loop on that reference. Although, looking up Coben's work, it seems like his plots/themes are relevant to The Outsider.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
81,712
313,833
56
Cambridge, Ohio
#19
All good points! I you all could recommend a SK book to follow The Outsider, what would it be? I think my vote would go to It. However, I saw Dr. Sleep, Desperation, andThe Talisman mentioned. I've actually never read The Talisman. Would you all recommend going there next?
....it’s an unforgettable journey...
 

do1you9love?

Happy to be here!
Feb 18, 2012
7,879
57,850
Virginia
#20
On another note, I was at a library book sale today, and learned that Harlan Coben is an actual person when I found a whole box of his books. I had to do a double take because the name sounded so familiar, but I couldn't place it immediately. Needless to say, my wild speculation was very wild indeed. SK is probably the most contemporary author I've read in a really long time, so I was totally out of the loop on that reference. Although, looking up Coben's work, it seems like his plots/themes are relevant to The Outsider.
Well, count me out of the loop, too. I had no idea.
Yep, and pretty good author. Stephen mentioned in the GMA interview that he called up Harlan to get his permission to use him in the novel. :cool:
 
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