Synopsis : The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.
Review : I may have watched plenty of adaptations of Stephen King’s novels on TV or in the cinema, but it never occurred to me to read one of his books. Probably because most of the time, I was quite satisfied with these film adaptations, so I didn’t really feel the need to read them. So it was high time for me to correct this mistake. And as a first read to enter the vast universe of the master of horror, I stumbled upon this relatively short novel, ‘Later’ and I thought it could be a good starting point.
In this book, we follow Jamie Conklin, the young narrator of this story. And as is often the case with Stephen King’s stories, Jamie is not an ordinary child in the sense that he has a rather strange gift : he sees and hears the dead before they disappear.
From the first chapters, Jamie tells us, not without a touch of humor, about his childhood. Thus, the first third of the book reviews his childhood, adolescence, the relationships he has with his mother and Liz (the female cop), as well as his ability to see the dead. The main character of this story being very young, the tone is light and quite enjoyable to read despite the frequent use of strong language. Actually the author takes turns putting himself in the shoes of a little boy who becomes a teenager and then a young adult, all while adopting a first-person writing style in tune with his narrator and his different ages.
This also allows him to approach with a bit more lightness important and quite serious events that occurred in the 2000s, notably the subprime crisis and the Great Recession of 2008.
At first, it was quite interesting and this little boy is funny and very endearing. However, after about a hundred pages, it starts to feel a bit long. It’s dragging. Honestly, not much happens even though this story is supposed to be a horror story (as Jamie himself claims). The novel is less than 350 pages long (French edition), so inevitably, you begin to wonder when you’ll get some action. In the end, things don’t really get serious until Chapter 20.
As for me, the magic didn’t work and I didn’t really get hooked by this book. Perhaps not enough horror for my taste. I expected to read something that would give me a bit of a chill, but that was not the case here. Moreover, I would have liked to know more about the mysterious ‘dead light,’ but the novel does not provide any answers on this matter. On the other hand, I was surprised by the revelation thrown at us at the end of the book concerning the narrator; I admit I didn’t see that coming.
In conclusion, if you want to immerse yourself into Stephen King’s fascinating and anxiety-inducing universe, if you are looking for a good horror story or a thrill ride, then this book is not the best choice. However, it was a fairly entertaining read that helped pass the time.