Stephen King has done it again! The Outsider is an incredible, unique look at the criminal justice system intermingled with a tale of mythology and belief. I thought that this novel was suspenseful and captivating and I learned a lot from it about Mexican mythology and a variety of supernatural happenings.
A little boy, Frank Peterson, has been raped and murdered in Flint City and the police have condemning evidence against his football coach, Terry Maitland. The Outsider follows the aftermath of a very public arrest, showing what happens to the Maitland family, the Peterson family and the police, lawyers and outside investigators as they investigate what really happened and who was really involved. With Terry’s airtight alibi conflicting with the damning evidence against him, they start to wonder if supernatural forces may be at play here.
Why I liked this novel
I enjoyed The Outsider for all the Stephen King-ness of it. It encompassed a lot of his major themes, was not too politically overt, carried through supernatural elements and had very likeable characters. One thing I really enjoyed was the way the novel slowly glides into the supernatural, so while it seems unlikely, it builds in the reader’s mind that it could be a possibility so that when it finally hits, you are ready for it. The story and writing are easy to follow and enjoyable, and I felt that King really embodied the different characters’ views on the supernatural and how easily or not they believed in it. The characters I liked the most included Ralph and Jeannie Andersen; I thought that they had a real, strong relationship. I liked that he phoned her to tell her everything, asked and valued her opinions, while at the same time questioning and challenging her.
I liked the character that King used for his signature “mad man”, as I felt that he had a lot of rage for good reason toward the police. His descent into madness was also accompanied by various fears of death and illness. Other characters I loved were Holly (obviously), as I felt like she was a great link to the Mr Mercedes trilogy, and I appreciated the connection to the rest of the Stephen King universe. I thought that the way her cases wove into this one complemented the story greatly. Moreover, I relished the use of the Mexican mythology and the various supernatural stories that were told throughout to get through to the reader what was being said and how dangerous this monster actually was. I liked the way that Yune naturally slid into Spanish every now and then, which other characters joined him in doing from time to time, as it added authenticity to the character.
Anything I didn’t like?
At times, the novel went a bit slower than King usually writes. There were points when I was not fully into what was happening, and felt like skimming through the non-speech part of the text, as it was merely repeating information told numerous times throughout the novel. Aside from this, however, I didn’t find anything I did not like about this novel.
Overall, I would recommend this to fans of King, naturally, but also people who wish to enter his world. At just 475 pages, The Outsider is one of King’s lighter novels, but it dives straight into the action and I think crime, thriller, horror, fantasy and science fiction lovers alike will be entertained by this work of fiction. A massive thank you to Kerry Hood from Hodder and Stoughton for my finished copy of this amazing book.