The New “King”
A number of years ago while browsing around a bookstore, I stumbled upon this novel: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King (9780671042851. 2000. Gr. 11-Adult). It is the story of a nine-year-old girl who gets separated from her family hike and ends up lost in the Appalachian Forest of Maine. All she has to survive on are her wits and a small radio that can pick up her favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, to keep her company.
Little did I know that this short novel (mainly purchased for its baseball themes) would spawn a love for all literature penned by Stephen King. In the years since then, I have read everything that King has produced. Stories from evil clowns (“It“) to haunted houses (“Bag of Bones“); prison tales (“The Green Mile“) to little kids with big powers (“Carrie” & “The Shining“). I devoured the “Dark Tower” series over the course of a single summer.
Sadly, many of those early King novels may not be high-circulating items in school libraries. Most of the themes embedded within King’s books take a very mature reader to appreciate, while (to put it bluntly) some of the titles may just be too doggone scary for a younger crowd.
In recent years, though, I have noticed a change in King’s works that (intended or not) make him a bit friendlier to the YA set. Newer novels bearing King’s name have strayed from paranormal/horror to more human drama that is a bit easier to digest (while still packing as much of a punch as ever!).
Here are six King titles (2009+) that largely eschew his paranormal stylings in favor of more character-centric drama:
Under The Dome by Stephen King. 9781476735474. 2013. Gr. 11-Adult.
Adapted into a television show on CBS; tells the story of a small town that sees a mysterious dome descend from the heavens and trap them from the outside world.
11/22/63 by Stephen King. 9781451627299. 2012. Gr. 10-Adult
After an English teacher discovers a time rift leading to 1958, he devises a plot to stop President Kennedy from being assassinated in 1963. However, the past is a difficult beast to tame.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. 9781451698855. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.
Young Danny Torrence (who watched his father go insane in “The Shining”) is now an adult using his special powers to comfort the elderly as they pass away. That is, until a band of ruthless gypsies come along who prey on those with abilities similar to Danny, especially a young girl who is very special to him.
Joyland by Stephen King. 9781781162644. 2013. Gr. 11-Adult.
When college student Devin Jones takes a summer job at an amusement park, he has no idea that the park’s murderous history and strange tenants will provide him with enough mystery and intrigue to last a lifetime. A great coming-of-age tale.
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. 9781476754451. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.
Out of nowhere, a vehicle rips through a job fair, killing a number of people and injuring even more. Once-retired detective Bill Hodges is enlisted again to prevent the killer from striking further. A mystery of the highest order.
Revival by Stephen King. 9781476770383. 2014.
King’s newest novel to date. As a child, young Jamie Morton discovers a friend in community pastor Charlie Jacobs…only to see Jacobs’ entire life destroyed in an instant. Throughout the course of their lives, Jamie & Charlie keep meeting up with each other in a cosmic sense of fate, with the final meeting producing a shocking (quite literally) revelation about both men.