Monday, October 10, 2011

Thinner by Stephen King

Book Details
Thinner by Stephen King
Paperback, 320 Pages
1985, Signet
ISBN: 0451161343

When an old gypsy man curses Billy Halleck for sideswiping his daughter, six weeks later he's ninety-three pounds lighter. Now Billy is terrified. And desperate enough for one last gamble...that will lead him to a nightmare showdown with the forces of evil melting his flesh away.

I found Thinner to be a rather surprising read. I had previously seen the movie, but the novel definitely gets into Billy Halleck's head much more and that's what really drives the story.

The premise of the story is fascinating. What could possibly be horrific about losing weight, especially for someone who is majorly overweight and lacks willpower and motivation? It would seem that Billy had found the miracle obesity cure. The cost - accidentally killing an old gypsy woman with his car and getting away with it. The victim's father curses Billy with a single word: thinner, and the weight just falls off.

What I found interesting about Thinner is Billy's attitude towards the entire ordeal. He begins to lose weight and knows something is wrong. Even in his denial, he somehow knows the weight loss is a bad thing connected to his accident. Billy isn't exactly a likeable character and while you can feel and relate to his terror, it's difficult to be sympathetic towards him. He's incapable of taking any sort of responsibility for his actions. He blames the accident on his wife even though he was driving. He blames the curse on the gypsy even though he isn't even remotely repentant for his actions. Everyone is to blame from the cop at the scene, to the judge who let him off, to the victim herself. Everyone except for Billy, who believes himself just as much a victim as the dead woman.

The real question in Thinner is who the evil party actually is. Is it the gypsy who's just looking for justice he can't find through legal means? Or is it Billy who escalates the violence against the clan, costing many more lives. As with many of the best King novels, the heart of the story resides within the main character's thoughts and personality.

Thinner isn't one of the most well known of King's books, nor one of his best. It is a solid read though. It's an intriguing, quick read that'll make you wonder who the real bad guy is.


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