Book Review: Pet Sematary
Good Evening Death Defiers,
Based on the title of this post, you know what it’s about. Pet Sematary!
I am well aware that this book review comes with breath that it baited, but I finally finished it just now and am excited to share my experience with you.
I had originally intended this read to be a part of my Halloween reads, but things tend to get pushed back, and back, and back.
So without any further delay, let’s get into things, shall we?
The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.
I gave this book four death-defying stars. (I rated this 3.75 if I’m being honest, but rounded up for simplicity)
This book is hailed as one of Stephen King’s greatest classics, so naturally I was extremely excited to read it.
In this novel, we follow the lives of the Creed family. Louis, his wife Rachel, his children Gage and Ellie, and cat Church have moved into the small town of Ludlow for Louis’s next work assignment at a local college as a physician of sorts.
Everything seems pretty great when they first move in except for two things. The dangerous road in front of their house where trucks zoom past, and the eerie woods behind, housing a strange destination called the Pet Sematary.
Children have buried their pets there for decades, and when ill fortune befalls the family, a friend guides Louis to the depths of the woods beyond the Pet Sematary, a place few have ever seen, or ever should.
Here, the rules of life and death are discombobulated, stretched … defied, and when terrible things begin to happen involving his family, Louis must come to terms with the principle of death and what happens when you defy it.
Overall, I enjoyed this story. I did have some severely conflicting opinions on this book, but I’ll get into that in a moment.
There were plenty of things that worked for me with this novel.
For starters, the characters and relationships made sense to me and felt real. Louis’s interactions with his family were very believable, and his relationship with Jud, his neighbor, was a great contributing factor as well. Ever had someone you just instantly got along with and became the best of friends with? If you have, then Jud and Louis’s deep friendship will make so much sense.
I also loved the foreboding, ominous cloud that seemed to hover over the events of this book. Death is nothing to scoff at, and the Pet Sematary and woods beyond lent a creepy, evil vibe to this story that I really loved.
Of course I’ve seen the older version of the movie, so I basically knew most of what happened, but reading it for the first time was still very entertaining and exhilarating at times.
At the same time, I did have some issues with this book as well.
My number one issue almost made me stop reading it in several spots, and that is animal cruelty. In the first half of the book, the family cat Church is victimized after some rather awful things happen (no spoilers, sorry).
I have always felt a strong connection to animals, specifically cats, and throughout the first half of the book, Louis shows a frightening lack of compassion, furthered by his cruelty towards this cat.
My mind was made up relatively quickly that Louis was the true monster in this novel. Given the actions that he himself took, he instead puts blame on the cat, and hits, kicks, and threatens it almost constantly. It made me mad, angry, that Stephen King would write this and never have a moment where Louis felt a shred of remorse for abusing this poor animal, especially when this is his fault.
Be a man, Louis, and own up to your faults instead of blaming others.
I honestly don’t care what others’ stances on writing animal cruelty in books is. I do not care for it and never will. It’s inhuman.
The second con I felt is that not too terribly much actually happens in this book. Maybe it was the older movie I originally saw that made it seem so much more epic, but there were parts in the book that had me thinking “Can’t we just skip over this? Is it really that important?”
Which ties into my last con, overwriting/writing choices. This time around, the overwriting isn’t too bad, but in spots it drags the flow and pulls the reader out of the story. I got impatient a few times with the backstories that were given, and though it didn’t bug me too much, it may deter others.
The writing choices that bugged me were certain extremely pivotal points in the book. Around halfway through the book after building up the tension, etc, King just tells us what’s about to happen, what, when, and where. I disagree with the way that this reveal was handled. Why not leave suspense for the reader? We have come to expect great things from his writing, so wow us! Don’t just give it away.
Despite the cons I felt detracted from my experience, I really did enjoy reading Pet Sematary. It’s gritty, mysterious, and shows us just what happens when someone defies death.
PS: I’m giving my copy of this book to my coworker, who hasn’t read it in many a year and listens to me rant about books incessantly with the patience of a saint. Sorry, I just can’t get over the animal cruelty enough to put it on my bookshelf.
That’s a Wrap!
Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!
Have you read this book before? What did you think? Do you have a book recommendation similar to this one? Feel free to share in the comments!
Have a great day!
***Can’t get enough of Jaunts & Haunts? Subscribe to my Chills and Thrills Newsletter on my home page so you don’t miss a thing! Newsletter emails go out every Sunday! Also, feel free to check me out at the social media links below!***