Book Review: UR by Stephen King

Stephen King
Simon & Schuster Audio, February 2010
ISBN 1442303093
Unabridged Audio Book
Read by Holter Graham

An English professor named Wesley gets dumped by his girlfriend and is driven by despair to purchase a Kindle although he has never wanted one.  Strange things start to happen, beginning with the fact that it arrives by express mail although Wesley didn’t ask for that.  And the Kindle is pink (!).  Strangest of all, though, is the wide array of books available, books that were never written as far as Wesley knows.

Author Stephen King has always been in the vanguard of those trying new methods of delivering their work to the reader and this is another step, a novella originally available exclusively on the Amazon Kindle.  However, only someone who already owned a Kindle could read this paean to the device so I don’t get the point of the “exclusive”.

I’m a diehard King fan; he’s one of only a handful of authors that I buy in hardcover as soon as a book comes out and I also love most of the movies made from his books, no matter how really awful they may be.  Stories released only in audio format also are in my hands as soon as they’re released but, for the most part, they’re not among my favorites of King’s work.  Still, anybody who knows me realizes I’ll push his books whenever I can because I want others to enjoy his fine, if flawed, writing as much as I do.

I’m very sorry to have to say I don’t like this one.  The novella is pretty weak, with the premise that the professor’s very special Kindle can provide him with an incredible library of literary choices.  That theme dwindles and is replaced by futuristic news, then builds to what could be an exciting horror story, but he lets the denouement just sort of fade away.  I actually was shocked when I realized it was over because I thought there surely must be more.  Most of all, though, this is a blatant commercial for Amazon and the Kindle with constant product placement (I wonder if anyone has counted how many times the word “Kindle” is used).  As far as I can tell, there was no reason for this short story other than to pimp for Amazon.

This won’t cause me to lose my appreciation of Stephen King’s work but I would surely like to have my two hours back.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2010.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: UR by Stephen King

  1. L – I came looking for the blog on historical mysteries as I write those myself and it wasn’t here, so read your take on Stephen King’s latest. I gotta say that King is the Babe Ruth of writers, hitting out more home runs and having more strike outs–a with Ruth–than anyone else as well, so it is often a toss up; a lot of inconsistency there. I love his early work myself and his Bachman books and prison tales. I admire his productivity; it is amazing how much work he puts out, a cottage industry in himself, but then once in a while you get something as awful as The Tommyknockers or the one about the killer car. He certainly has a pinchot for having mechanical toys attack us from telephones to toasters — Oh yeah, Christine was the name of the car and the book…just not good, not like IT or The Stand.

    Rob Walker
    author, Dead On


  2. Hey, Rob,

    Sorry about that—the historical mysteries blog will be up at 9AM EST.

    I totally agree with you about King. I have huge respect for him and will forgive him a lot but sometimes…I do think he suffers a bit from his reputation in that so many fans expect him to always be on his game but he can put out bad work just like anybody else (and I tend to think that can actually make an author more interesting). This one, though, is the worst.


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