I finally finished this book. I started it in August, and now, more than half way through November, I plowed through the last 240 pages in about 4 hours this morning because I had to finish this thing once and for all. I’ve been trudging through it for 3 months and my agony had to end.
This is the first King book I just flat out didn’t like. A lot of people accuse him of needing a strong editor to cull back the bloat, and until I read this book, I had never much been bothered by his excessive words before. It took far too long to built up to the confrontation between Wilma and Nettie, and I hated every moment I had to read about Danforth Keeton because King seemed to love dwelling on his insanity. I liked Alan and Polly as characters, but most others were despicable or uninteresting or both. I felt like I was reading Under the Dome again, even though Needful Things was the elder of the two by about 15 years. Same basic good guy character, same basic town councilman bad guy, same hateful townspeople. Sometimes it seemed that the only difference between the books was that the characters had different names. The reason why I think I enjoyed Under the Dome more than Needful Things was that it just had better pacing.
That being said, there were some highlights: the references back to Cujo, The Dark Half, and The Body, the slight allusions to the Gunslinger world when Ace Merrill picks up the Tucker Talisman in Boston, and the scene when Polly fights the grotesque and growing spider in her bathroom. I was on the edge of my seat – I have a particular terror of insects and bugs, especially giant insects and bugs – and it’s too bad the rest of the book didn’t live up to that scene. The last two hundred pages were more interesting than the first two thirds of the book but not interesting enough to make the preceding 500 pages worth it.