The Outsider, which was published last year, is definitely a page-turner! I finished it in three days and considering the size of the book and the print size as well, that’s a good record.
I had a misconception of the book after reading the blurb which sold the story to me by the way. I thought it was simply a detective mystery novel but it’s actually a horror novel in addition. No qualms, I wasn’t fazed even though Stephen King is like the King of horror. It’s been a while since I read a Stephen King book. So it was much needed and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
The Outsider tells the story of an eleven year old boy who is found dead in the most horrific manner, sodomized and parts of him, cannibalized. Terry Maitland is Flint City Little League coach, husband and father of two girls, and very well respected by his community who would find it impossible to associate him with such gruesome act. Yet all evidence point accusing fingers at him. He was seen by multiple witnesses and his prints were on all links to the murder.
Despite all these, he has a very strong alibi which makes all the evidence against him questionable. The city Police have probable explanations about him being in two places at the same time and still go on to arrest him publicly because the lives of other children are at risk with him among them. The arrest unlocks a chain of events which leads their investigation towards something unfathomable. Terry Maitland was in two places at the same time, only that it’s not exactly what you think it is.
The Outsider is a mind blowing story. Like I said, it really isn’t exactly what you think. So my first advice is, don’t bother your head with predictions. Just concentrate on all the tidbits of information and clues that are dropped everywhere. They would help you in piecing it all together at Stephen King’s pace, not yours.
The suspense was 100% and that is superb. I didn’t expect less. I was really surprised at the end how the author created such a story that beats all norms. I don’t want to release spoilers but how does someone even create horror? How can you even imagine it and then write it down? It’s a pure gift. The power of our imagination is really limitless. All you have to do is push it to think beyond the box.
I enjoyed the descriptions which weren’t overwhelming. They were just enough to keep you interested and informed. I loved the pace of the story. There was the initial ‘high’, then the ‘plateau’ – the part where you’ll say, ‘okay that’s done. So what next?’ – And then it skyrockets and your heart is pumping away in fear – like what the hell!
It was interesting to get exposed to Mexican folklore. I would have loved to talk more on this but there lies the spoilers. Every tribe of people have cultures or stories which are sometimes unique to them but in certain ways merge with the stories of other tribes. Most times the major difference is language and how it is told. It was interesting to see this aspect of Mexican folklore developed into a story. This further reemphasizes two thoughts that come to my mind any time I worry about what to write.
- Many stories have been told but what is important is how you choose to tell yours.
- Look back into your society and culture, you would discover a bank of ideas in plain sight.
Reading The Outsider taught me a lot about writing. Fluid transition between scenes and events was something I took particular note of while reading. When I’m writing and the need to change scenes or move from one event to another arises, sometimes I find myself in a dilemma regarding how much to say or cut off so that the narrative doesn’t get boring and understanding isn’t breached. I noted a lot of ways I could do that easily while reading this book.
Talking about the dialogues, I loved the conversations. They were full of life – mood, emotions and all the nuances associated with real people talking. I took notes here and there, trust me.
I learn a lot about the right words to use for certain things I want to describe. Sometimes when writing, I have this picture in my head I want to project and I realise I’m actually lost for the right words. Not because I don’t know the words but rather I can’t write the words off the top of my head. In such situations, I find myself browsing the net or the dictionary for a clue or something. But reading more and more books, makes it easier because you are in daily contact with all these words. So when you are writing, it comes easily.
There are really a lot of noteworthy lessons while reading a book and it may seem unachievable. What’s the guarantee that I won’t forget everything once I finish the book? I don’t worry about it and you shouldn’t. When you keep reading constantly, the things you learn register both consciously and unconsciously. While you are writing, you’ll see the difference. Trust me, I do.
Each novel is an experience for me in terms of the story and learning. I enjoyed The Outsider and I hope you see reasons why you should read it. The world of suspense is always inviting. Don’t miss out on the thrill. See you at my next post!