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Pet Sematary by Stephen King
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Pet Sematary (original 1983; edition 2001)

by Stephen King

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8,015111400 (3.72)155
Member:chickenwingy85
Title:Pet Sematary
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Pocket Books (2001), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)

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Stephen King writes amazing stories. He specializes in delving into the human psyche and challenging readers to accept the unimaginable. More importantly, under his pen, that unimaginable quality becomes perfectly plausible, which only compounds one’s terror. After all, there are several generations of readers who steer clear of clowns and sewer drains because of what Mr. King did with them in his novel, It. Pet Sematary by Stephen King is no different in that it is a blood-curdling novel in which the very thing at which one should scoff at its ridiculousness becomes the thing of a reader’s nightmares. That it diverts down a path one might not expect based on its title and cover is a surprise but does nothing to minimize a reader’s terror or one’s appreciation for an entertaining story.

As always, Mr. King knows how to create well-executed, complex, realistic, and empathetic characters around which his horror stories revolve. In Louis Creed, he creates a young father who cares deeply for his family. His approach to life is rational, and he tends to overanalyze situations before acting. He is not afraid to show readers his parenting frustrations in addition to those parenting perks which negate them. He is relatable and honest, which only makes the horror he later experiences that much more tragic.

Another aspect of Mr. King’s books that he does so well is to create situations which sit in the shadowy grey area between right and wrong. A reader instinctively envisions being in Louis’ shoes, faced with the same tragic decisions and terrible consequences, for which readers are utterly incapable of making different choices. This grounds the story more firmly to the realistic and deliberately counters the fantastic elements of his stories.

Unlike some of Mr. King’s other novels, one finishes reading Pet Sematary with many questions. First off, he never explains the mysterious power in the forest. There are many hints and even mentions of certain supernatural figures, but they are nothing more than mentions with no clear definitions or explanations. Similarly, the rules of the Pet Sematary remain frustratingly vague. One is not even certain of the rules long after Louis stumbles down that particular path. Also, there is an emphasis on spirals which seem important enough to garner multiple mentions but again without any satisfactory answers.

Because there are so many open-ended scenarios, one cannot help but wonder if Mr. King intended to write a sequel. There are certainly enough unanswered questions to warrant one. Then again, the fact that the rest of Louis’ story is entirely up to the reader to determine only creates a more horrifying story. The very thing which can and does frustrate a reader can and does help Pet Sematary live up to its title as one of Mr. King’s scariest novels of all time.
  jmchshannon | Mar 25, 2015 |
The Short of It:

Probably one of King’s best.

The Rest of It:

In my late teens, early twenties, I somehow managed to read Pet Sematary twice. I think I read it a second time, right before the movie came out. I remember it being appropriately scary but not overly so. To compare, IT, to this day, is still his scariest book ever but anytime death is involved and you try to change things, you are really grabbing the bull by the horns and things just can’t go well when you try to do that with death. Trust me.

After Louis Creed accepts a position as a university doctor, he and his wife Rachel buy a house in the country and look forward to raising their two small children, Ellie and Gage, in the beauty of God’s kingdom. Except, there is a pesky road that is the main through-way for trucks getting from point A to point B. Across the way, are their elderly neighbors, the Crandalls and oh, let’s not forget the Pet Sematary, which is really the smaller part of an Indian burial ground and which just so happens to be on their property.

Indian burial ground. Yep.

As you can probably guess, that busy road becomes a very important part of the story, as does the Pet Sematary, which is spelled that way because that is how a child chose to spell it years and years ago. The story reads quickly, because once you get to a certain point, you really can’t stop reading as you must know how it all turns out.

As you may recall above, I didn’t think the book was overly scary when I read it in my twenties but that was before kids. Reading it recently, I couldn’t help but flashback to those times when my kids hurt themselves or how afraid I was of hurting them accidentally. Really, just recognizing how fragile they were. Well, the experience of parenthood adds some additional terror to the mix. For sure.

I read this for the #gangstercats read-along so I definitely had the support of others, which always makes reading a book like this a lot more fun. Plus, we got party favors too! There’s nothing like a good King discussion to bring people together. There was some interest in maybe watching the movie while live tweeting, so if that happens, you’ll hear about it soon.

King’s new book Finders Keepers comes out in June 2015 but what shall we read next?

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Mar 18, 2015 |
I read this book for the first time in the mid 80s, something like 1987. It scared the heck out of me back then. This time, being much older I found it to be chilling and exciting, but I don't anticipate nightmares this time around.

Lewis is a distraught father who know of a possible answer to end his pain caused by the death of his toddler son. What parent wouldn't take the risk. Unfortunately Gage came back more monster than happy baby. What I forgot and took me by surprise was Lewis taking his wife Rachel to the sematary as well. I forgot Lewis went a bit mad at the end of the book. ( )
  jlsimon7 | Mar 1, 2015 |
“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”

After Louis Creed gets hired on at The University of Maine, he moves his family from Chicago, Illinois to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. Their house is built on the edge of a distressing wilderness that their local neighbor, Jud, advises they never traverse which only manages to stir their curiosity. The months steadily fly by living in Ludlow until one day his daughters cat Church is killed and Jud decides to ‘help him’ by showing him the Pet Sematary. The one on the far side of the deadfall.

“You do it because it gets hold of you. You do it because that burial place is a secret place, and you want to share the secret… you make up reasons… they seem like good reasons… mostly you do it because you want to. Or because you have to.”

According to Stephen King, Pet Sematary is the most frightening book he’s ever written. And while it was frightening, it wasn’t exactly the type of horror I was expecting. The intended fright was also full of a paralyzing despair because it was regarding the loss of a loved one and the horrors that accompanies it. Throw in a supernatural flair and an ancient Indian burial ground that brings the dead back to (a form of) living and that’s Pet Sematary in a nutshell. The burial grounds and the unseen horrors that possessed an individual was what unsettled me the most though. Louis Creed was a perfectly rational individual yet the combination of loss and the influence of the burial grounds caused him to do irrational and horrible things. He became infected by an ancient evil.

“His plan kept unreeling in his mind. he looked at it from all angles, poked it, prodded it, looked for holes or soft places. And he felt that in truth he was walking along a narrow beam over a gulf of insanity. Madness was all around him, softly fluttering as the wings of night-hunting owls with great golden eyes: he was heading into madness.”

King’s stories of average people always end up transforming into something truly malevolent. Is that because of King’s devious imagination or is it a showcase of truth in how closely horror lurks waiting for its opportune moment to pounce and mutate even the most ordinary of lives? One thing I’ve learned is that there are most definitely worse things than dying.

“What you buy is what you own, and sooner or later what you own will come back to you.” ( )
  bonniemarjorie | Feb 20, 2015 |
Pet Sematary Review (Kinda) I know this review is long, but I have a personal story to tell. Read it if you want to, but the simple fact of the matter is that this book is awesome. If you haven't read it, stop fucking about.
 
When I was ten years old, my mother and her best friend Andrita took a trip to the local drive-in to catch a showing of Pet Sematary. My father was out with his own buddies, so guess who got to tag along? Yup, me. My mother told me to go to sleep in the back seat, and then proceeded to forget all about me. Little E. was very excited by the prospect of watching a real grown-up's film, so Little E. did not follow his mother's orders. Little E. soon regretted his excitement. 
 
Let me reiterate, I was ten. The scariest things I had seen up to that point were the old Universal horror films. But Drac, Wolfie, and that stumbling behemoth Franky didn't hold a candle to Zelda, Rachael Creed's invalid sister (who, interestingly enough, was played by a man in the film). I did fine up until the camera drifted down the hallway of the Goldman house to enter a room wherein Zelda lay on the bed, choking. When that actor rolled over and faced the celluloid, I pissed myself. I'm not ashamed of that fact. Once again, I was only ten. I had been laying curled up in the middle of the back seat of my mother's car, but once I laid eyes on Zelda, I crawled my pee-soaked ass down to the foot well behind the driver's seat. And there I stayed. Every time I tried to close my eyes, I saw that face. I missed the rest of the movie, but Zelda stayed with me. It would be another seven years before I found out Pet Sematary was written by Stephen King.
 
My mother has been a die-hard King fan since she first read The Stand the week it was released. But she kept his scariest novels in her room. It, Pet Sematary, 'Salem's Lot, and The Shining did not enter what she called The Great Book Closet (which was a walk-in number filled completely with stacks of hardcover horror novels, which I would inherit upon turning 21; she didn't die, she just kinda handed them over) until 1997. I'd read Dolores Claiborne and Misery, but had no idea that such terrifying treasures awaited me. When the hidden novels were introduced back into her massive collection of Dean R. Koontz, Peter Straub, John Saul (which is why I have such an affection for that old hack and continue to collect his books to this day), James Herbert, L. Ron Hubbard, and, of course, King, I snatched up the shortest of the four. I was seventeen by this time, but I still wasn't prepared for the story. After I finished the novel, I had mom rent the movie because I didn't think anything could be worse than the book, and I wanted to prove to myself that Zelda really wasn't that scary. Well, I was right. Zelda wasn't nearly as scary as she had been to Little E., but Grossly-Larger E found Gage nightmare inducing. You see, Gage isn't as menacing in the book. He's rather over the top, and cusses like Regan does in The Exorcist after being possessed by Honey Boo Boo... I mean  Pazuzu. Yeah, after being returned from the dead, he's a murderous little fucker, but, all in all, he's kinda silly. The movie version is much worse, because it supposes that Gage is still Gage somewhere deep inside. His utterances of "I have something to show you, Mommy" and "No fair," are both sad and terrifying. Oh, and in both the book and the novel - fuck Church. Fuck Church right in its nutless, glowing-eyed corpse. I love cats, but that one can die in a fire. 
 
Another odd difference between the film and the novel is that Jud's wife Norma and the Creed's nanny Missy are kinda smashed together in the movie. The young women and the old one are morphed into a middle-aged housekeeper with arthritis who winds up hanging herself. Never did like that bit. I suppose this is because I really liked Norma, and cry every time I read about her death in the book. The housekeeper in the movie was just there. I had no reason to care about her, so I didn't give a shit whether she lived or died. 
 
I've told you about my experiences with this book when I was ten and seventeen. I read it once again in my twenties, before my daughter was born, and didn't care much for the plodding beginning and thought the rest of it was simply okay. (I know, I was a dumb bastard back then). Now I'm in my thirties and I have two kids. Two kids that closely resemble Ellie and Gage in this book. Needless to say, this reread was a powerful one, and I almost couldn't finish it because of the feelings I experienced. I soldiered on, though, and made it out the other end. If you are a parent, this novel will affect you in some way. It may not be pretty, but it's striking work of fiction that should not be missed. 
 
Finally (yes, this kinda/sorta review is almost over) this is the first King novel in which King didn't drone on and on after the final horrific scene (if you read them chronologically, all of his other novels up until this one are tied up in one way or another). There's no wrap up. No "This is where they are now" mumbo jumbo. It just ends. As it should. It kicks you squarely in the genitals and fucks off. I dig that. I dig that very much.
 
Notable names:
 
Haven (The Tommyknockers and The Colorado Kid)
Jerusalem's Lot (Obvious)
Derry (any King fan knows this little town intimately)
 
In summation: This is the second best Stephen King novel in my opinion. You may disagree, but it's my party and I'll do what I want. The only book in his catalog better than this one is coming up next on my massive reread. But first, it's time for some silliness. BRING ON HARRY POTTER!
 
  ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Talvio-Jaatinen, PirkkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Jesus said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go, that I may awake him out of his sleep."

Then the disciples looked at each other, and some smiled because they did not know Jesus had spoken in a figure. "Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well."

So then Jesus spoke to them more plainly, "Lazarus is dead, yes...nevertheless let us go to him."

—JOHN'S GOSPEL (paraphrase)
When Jesus came to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had lain in the grave four days already. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she hurried to meet him.

"Lord," she said, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But now you are here, and I know that whatever you ask of God, God will grant."

Jesus answered her: "Your brother shall rise again."

—JOHN'S GOSPEL (paraphrase)
"Hey-ho, let's go."
—THE RAMONES
Jesus therefore, groaning inside of himself and full of trouble, came to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone had been raised against the mouth. "Roll away the stone," Jesus said.

Martha said, "Lord, by this time he will have begun to rot. He has been dead four days."...

And when he had prayed awhile, Jesus raised his voice and cried, "Lazarus, come forth!" And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.

Jesus said to them, "Loose him and let him go."

—JOHN'S GOSPEL (paraphrase)
   "I only just thought of it," she said hysterically. "Why didn't I think of it before? Why didn't you think of it?"
   "Think of what?" he questioned.
   "The other two wishes," she replied rapidly. "We've only had one."
   "Was that not enough?" he demanded fiercely.
   "No," she cried triumphantly: "we'll have one more. Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again."

—W.W. JACOBS ("The Monkey's Paw")
Dedication
For Kirby McCauley
First words
Louis Creed, who had lost his father at three and who had never known a grandfather, never expected to find a father as he entered his middle age, but that was exactly what happened...although he called this man a friend, as a grown man must do when he finds the man who should have been his father relatively late in life.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743412273, Mass Market Paperback)

Renowned for its superior productions, BBC radio may have outdone itself by adapting Stephen King's Pet Sematary to audio. A clamorous cacophony of talking, whining, whistling, and howling, Pet Sematary is a quick, entertaining earful for those who don't have other auditory distractions to contend with, such as a car full of talking whining, whistling, howling children. However, the melodramatic prose marries well with the acting; such is the case when one reader--whose voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Kramer's from Seinfeld--tells another about the effects of the Pet Sematary: "Heroin makes junkies feel good when they put it in their arms, but all the time it's poisoning their mind and body--this place can be like that and don't you ever forget it!" (Running time: three hours, two cassettes)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:54 -0400)

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When a little boy's pet dies, and he persuades his parents to bury it in an old Indian cemetary, reputed by legend to house restless spirits, a nightmare of death and destruction begins.

(summary from another edition)

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