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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


Dreamcatcher

By Stephen King
Scribner, 620 pp, 2001

Stephen Kingís first full-length book since Bag of Bones was worth the wait. Though quite long, Dreamcatcher moves quickly, features great characters, and barely escapes degenerating into an X-Files episode.

Four lifelong friends are enjoying their annual November hunting trip deep in the Maine woods when an alien ship crashes to the earth. A super-secret military team immediately quarantines the area and destroys the spaceship, but one alien has survived. This alien, like his fellow extraterrestrials, has telepathic powers, including the ability to invade a humanís mind and make that poor sap do its will.

Unfortunately, the alien chooses to control Jonesy, one of our four friends. These friends grew up in Derry, a town that all King readers should be familiar with, and have gone their separate ways, yet still remain close. Their childhood adventures, which King details in frequent flashbacks, include saving a boy with Downís Syndrome from bullies and finding a lost girl. They also hold the keys to saving the world from alien domination.

Two of the friends (I wonít say who) do not survive, while the other two (or is it three?) do indeed save the world, with a little help from a renegade member of the military team.

Like all King books, the question must be asked: Is the book scary? Answer: not really. Thatís mildly disappointing, but this is still a great book. Thatís what King such a great writer. His books donít have to be scary to be great.

As always, he creates realistic, likeable characters, including Duddits, who may be the most endearing, heartfelt, and powerful character in any of Kingís other books. Kurtz, the evil leader of the military team, is suitably insane, but for some unfathomable reason King portrays him as a Christian. Doesnít this stereotype Ė the hypocritical, Bible-thumping, Jesus-spouting, murdering psychopath Ė ever get tired and stale to those who use it? King did this with Annie Wilkes in Misery and other novels, and itís getting old, really fast. Do something original for a change!

That being said, this is a great book, especially considering that King wrote the whole thing long hand.

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