Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: Blaze by Richard Bachman

Title: Blaze
Author: Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: June 12, 2007
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there's only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze's partner in crime is dead. Or is he?

My Review:

For those unfamiliar with the connection between Richard Bachman and Stephen King, Bachman was the pen name that King occasionally wrote under in the 70's and 80's.  Bachman "died of pseudonym cancer" (as the book jacket explains) in 1985, when King was basically outed.  However, he continued to occasionally release books under that name, including this one, which was actually written before King made it big with Carrie but was not published until 2007.

This is my second "Bachman book" (I read The Long Walk the year before I started blogging), and I have to say that this one definitely has a different feel to it than your average King novel...I suppose that could be because it was written in his very early days, even before Carrie.  The Long Walk is extremely King-esque in nature (macabre, gory, with an all-around dreadful premise), but Blaze is distinctly...not.  It has some elements that are recognizable from his other work (namely, a LOT of suspense, and a child playing a fairly central role), but otherwise I'd say this one could have flown under the pseudonym radar pretty cleanly.

Blaze is not a terribly long novel, but even so, it took me a bit to get into it.  It opens with a slow build as you learn more about Blaze's background, his now-dead crime partner George, and the kidnapping plot that he plans to execute alone.  I was finding the whole thing a bit blah, honestly, for the first 25% or so.  However, after that point, two things happen.  One, the story starts to flash back for longer periods into Blaze's past--and you learn a lot of things about his history that are rather disturbing.  And two, the actual kidnapping gets underway, which is pretty nail-biting.

(Side note: reading about a 6-month-old baby getting kidnapped (albeit fictionally) while you are feeding your 2-month-old baby is a good way to induce a blood pressure problem.)

The ending isn't particularly fact, it winds up pretty much the way you would expect, once you get to know Blaze.  But that's where the hook of this novel lies--with the characters.  As with so many other King works, he creates an amazingly complex protagonist, and given the short-ish length of this book, it's rather impressive that he was able to do that with Blaze.  If this book was really about the kidnapping, it would be called...The Kidnapping.  Or something.  (WHATEVER, nobody ever said I would be good at choosing book titles, you get my point.)  But it's not, and by the end you'll know why.

So, despite the slow start, Blaze hooked me well before the mid-point and kept me along for the ride all the way to the last word.  A bit of a cleaner ending than I'm used to with Stephen King, but if you want to see a different side of his repertoire, definitely give this one a try.

This was my second pick from the TBR Book Baggie and a good one at that! My next pick from the baggie is:

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell!

Oooooh a 30 Before 35 book!  EXCITING!!  Gonna take me a while to finish that chunkster though...


  1. Ooh, GWTW! Exciting indeed! I really should re-read that one sometime.

    I haven't read any of the Bachman books. Maybe it's silly, but I'm kind of pretending they don't exist... for now, anyway. King has so many books under his own name that I want to read, I don't need any more added to that!

    1. That is a good point!! I have so many of his other books to get to. The 2 Bachmans I've read so far HAVE been really good though...

  2. This one (I believe, or at least I read it as) an homage to Of Mice and Men. And I agree, it has a totally different feel from most of his other work. I liked it well enough, but it won't rank in my top ten King novels by any means. I loved The Long Walk though.

    1. I heard that about Of Mice and Men as well (made me wish I read it recently enough to remember any of it...haha). Agreed that The Long Walk is better, even though I did like this one. That one is a lot edgier too.

  3. I'm super super excited you're going to tackle GWTW! I cannot wait to hear how much you love to hate Scarlett, because, OMG. I've read no Bachman, and little King in general, because I am a giant chicken. Still. Interesting stuff.

    1. See now I've pulled GWTW as the next from my TBR, but it's been a few weeks and I still haven't touched it. It terrifies me. The length, the hype...I need to overcome my fear...

  4. I love King and have read much of his Bachmann stuff (I would probably sell my husband, child, AND the cats for a copy of 'Rage') but I haven't made it to 'Blaze' yet. Sound good. another one on the pile. :)

    GWTW is an excellent read. Good luck. :)

    1. Is there ANY way to get a copy of Rage? I imagine most library copies have been stolen by now...

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