TV Prep: The Outsider by Stephen King

With 2020 now upon us, it’s time to leave behind the big sequel films with kid killing clowns and vampire-esque beings who both feed on the fear and pain they inflict, moving to something a bit more mundane: another kid killer who feeds on the fear and pain they inflict.

Stephen King is nothing if not consistent.

Which means that the only thing you can be more sure of than the mortality of children is that nothing is ever mundane when King is involved. And if something appears to be as such, well, we just haven’t dug deep enough yet. Sure the fallibility of and/or corruption within the criminal justice system is worrisome unto itself, and the greatest monster is man blah blah, but we come to King for the things that go bump in the night. And bump they shall; with blood soaked clothes and a big smiling face.

When you get down to it, The Outsider is a quick and simple story from King, at least as far as density is concerned. There’s still plenty of intrigue, speculation, exposition, and mythologizing (some of which I’m not 100% on board with), and though I didn’t find it to be the most surprising by any means, I still appreciated the story being told. Especially since I didn’t have to wade through 1000+ pages of city history and lore (looking at you, Derry) as King sticks more to the here and now of this horrific crime, and how the act itself, as well as the grief and outrage such trauma brings forth, can destroy worlds so fully.

Just as spoilers can destroy my world so fully… Let’s just say if you’re like me and haven’t gotten around to completing the Bill Hodges Trilogy of Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch yet, you might not feel the need to after reading The Outsider. Yay for shared universes…?

And a more emphatic yay for the HBO adaptation of The Outsider that will be premiering on January 12th. Not gonna lie, I’ve never been more excited to see a Jason Bateman performance given the duality of what he will be tasked with in this project. So if you have the means to do so, you better be tuning in for this one. Not to disparage the book in any way – I’m scoring it at 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, after all – but this might be one of those rare times when an adaptation surpasses the source material. I have high hopes!

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