Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar is an excellent novella which considers the possibilities that come with having great power. This is a story that will resonate with me for a long time to come, and will be relevant in a political sense forever. Gwendy is a striking character, but essentially one of the rare ‘mostly good’ characters from King’s universe. I can understand why Chizmar wanted to explore more about this character in Gwendy’s Magic Feather, which I will be reviewing next week.
Gwendy’s Button Box follows teenage Gwendy, who is a little overweight, is averagely intelligent and has one very close best friend. Gwendy is approached by a mystery man. Richard Farris presents Gwendy with a box that has a variety of buttons and levers that do unexplainable things. One lever releases delicious chocolate treats that leave you feeling full after just one, and another releases rare coins. The buttons, on the other hand, are seemingly less helpful and more potentially harmful, in ways Gwendy can only imagine. One button could destroy an entire continent, another the world.
Why I like this book…
Gwendy’s Button Box is a great book because it seriously considers the possibilities of this box being in the wrong hands. There are moments in Gwendy’s adolescent life where she gets hormonal and wants to end it all, but she is a very strong young lady and this self assurance throughout the narrative is compelling and beautiful to read.
As she takes care of the box, it rewards her; she is smarter, prettier, loses weight, her parents stop drinking and fighting, and this is a great reflection of what would happen to our planet and society if we actually took care of it. The less we destroy, the more we are rewarded. This would be a great read for Trump and Johnson right now!
I like also that this can be read as young adult fantasy; it is dark and tense at times, but ultimately considers what could happen the majority of the time, rather than having many of the characters actually being bad people. This must have been Chizmar’s influence on King, as there are plenty of redeemable characters in this novella and I truly enjoyed watching Gwendy’s internal struggle all the way through.
Overall, I would rate this book 4.5*. I would recommend it to people who enjoy slightly dark, but short narratives and who enjoy a strong female protagonist. If you like something that is partially political, but not too in-your-face, then this will be a great read for you. I look forward to reviewing Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar next week.