Review: Night Shift by Stephen King

Night Shift

Source: Library
Publisher: Anchor 
Series: –
 Paperback, 505 Pages
 Horror Short Stories
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Night Shift—Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb.  In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more.  This is Stephen King at his horrifying best.

This is my fourth book by Stephen King and his fifth published, and so far it’s my least favorite of the lot.

I find myself somewhat unimpressed with King’s first batch of short stories, and while I seem to be in the minority with this opinion, I think that very few of these encapsulate exactly why his writing is so enjoyable. More than a few of the ideas are off the wall weird, and very few had any effect whatsoever on my mood.

My favorites of the bunch are Jerusalem’s Lot, One for the Road, and Quitters Inc. Two of which are connected to Salem’s Lot, so the idea has been fleshed out already and they didn’t suffer from the lack of pages like some of the others did. Quitters, Inc. wasn’t scary perse as it was wickedly enjoyable to see a twisted version of those programs designed to help you quit bad habits.

I think the main problem with the stories is that most of them are very forgettable. The writing is merely okay in the vast majority and a few just didn’t feel like they belonged with the others. The fact that a lot of Stephen King’s protagonists in this are men who spend most of their time in the bottle, cigarette hanging from lips, and casually contemplating hitting their significant others isn’t lost on me either. I don’t necessarily need to like the protagonist to enjoy the story, but it doesn’t hurt to make a character that I might actually miss if something horrible happens to them.

I still plan to continue reading his books, but I don’t think I understand the love for his short story writing as of yet.

2 stars

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5 Responses to Review: Night Shift by Stephen King

  1. Jackie says:

    I am of the minority that I feel Stephen King’s characters are old fashion like you said, smokers, wife beaters, drinkers/drunks and for lack of a better word, slob. He entirely cannot write romance, and his female characters are stereotypical goody two shoe housewives take for example in 11/22/63. Not like ‘the Beverley hills housewife etc.. either ugh. I’ve read enough of his books to have an opinion of his writing, and it’s not that good. I’d give him a C+ or B-

    • I completely and totally agree. I’ve only read 4 of his books so far, and I’m unimpressed to say the least. I love the atmosphere he is capable of creating, when he doesn’t get hung up on being gross (like seriously most of these books feel like they are coated in grime). I am not looking forward to continuing with his books but I am giving him another shot.

  2. I read this book when I was a young teenager. I also don’t remember it. Well, except for the mutant rats. I do remember those. Great review!

  3. I have read It, and Salem’s Lot. I was going to read Dr. Sleep without reading The Shining because I had several people tell me that watching the movie was good enough, but after one person telling me that I absolutely need to read The Shining, and your thoughts on the movie after reading the book, I guess I’ll read the book. 👍✨

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