#Bookreview – Different Seasons by Stephen King

Book reviews

What Amazon says

A “hypnotic” (The New York Times Book Review) collection of four novellas—including the inspirations behind the films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption—from Stephen King, bound together by the changing of seasons, each taking on the theme of a journey with strikingly different tones and characters.

This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.

Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town.

In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me.

Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,” hailed the Houston Chronicle about Different Seasons.

My review

This is a collection of four novella’s by Stephen King. Two of these stories I had already seen as movies prior to reading this collection, and two were entirely new to me.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is the story of a prominent banker, Andy Dufrense, who is convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to life in a notorious prison. The story depicts in fairly graphic detail, the boredom and hardship of life in prison with hardened and malicious criminals, some who are also rapists and prey on any they deem to be weak. Andy befriends another “lifer” called Red and, during the course of his journey to finally becoming a prisoner whom the prison manager and wardens rely on for financial services, becomes firm friends with Red. Andy learns how to survive and makes some interesting decisions about his life. This story provides a lot of insight into the different types and characters of men and how they react and plan in different and adverse situations. A great story.

The Body is a story about four young boys, living in a deadbeat town where not much happens and who seem to have limited future prospects, who overhear some older teenagers saying that the body of one of their peers had been found some distance away near the railway line. The boys set off on a journey to find the body. The face some adversity and must overcome their fears, but they also learn the value of food, drink and shelter as well as friendship and standing together. Another story with interesting psychological angles.

The Breathing Method was my personal favourite of this collection and tells the story of an ordinary and unassuming man in a good job where he will never be selected for promotion due to his nature. His boss, while recognising his limitations, also sees his strengths, one of which is that he is a great reader, and invites him to attend a men’s evening out at his exclusive club. One of the past times of this club is to tell a story of their own experience or origination on Christmas Eve. Each year the story teller is chosen in advance. The breathing method is one of the stories told and it really creeped me out. Stephen King’s build up and descriptions are superb and really have you looking over your shoulder. An excellent story.

The Apt Pupil is the story I liked the least. It is about a twelve year old boy who identifies a Nazi war criminal who is living in a small American town under an assumed name. The boy, Todd, is fascinated by the detail of the concentration camps and confronts the aging man and compels him to tell him all the horrible details of his life in charge of a concentration camp. These stories have a big impact on both Todd, who loses weight, starts having nightmares and failing at school and the elderly gent also resurrects all these terrible memories and starts reverting back to his previous hardened and unfeeling persona. This story did not suspend disbelief for me. I could not believe that a boy from a good family, with a curiosity about the concentration camps which is not itself unbelievable, would degenerate into a serial killer. I also found it hard to believe that an elderly Nazi war criminal in hiding would start murdering people. I didn’t finish this story and it is the reason I gave this book a 4-star rating.

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54 thoughts on “#Bookreview – Different Seasons by Stephen King

  1. I’ve seen the movies for The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, both of which I really enjoyed. I remember purchasing this book decades ago but I couldn’t get past Apt Pupil. I remember being so disgusted by that story, I threw the book in the trash.
    The Breathing Method, however, does sound like a great story!

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  2. Great review…I agree with your assessment – suspending disbelief is more difficult when characters act in ways that go against any logical progression…easier to do when fantasy elements exist

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  3. As a big King fan, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read the inspirations for Shawshank and Stand By Me, even though I love the movies. I might have to get my hands on this collection. Thanks, as always, Robbie, for bringing something to light I’ve been missing 🙂

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      1. Kings books always are better than the movies. Even though I love the movie version of The Shining, it’s almost a different story than the book version. Both great though.

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      1. Honestly, it seems like it might be something of interest to me. I really enjoyed the movie “The Boys from Brazil” (haven’t read the book) in which Mengele goes to Brazil and clones Hitler like a hundred times, then sends him off to various families throughout the world and tries to reproduce the psychological equivalent of the original Hitler. The Apt Pupil sounds equally outrageous, but with a similar idea behind it.

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    1. No, it undermined my memories of the films which weren’t as good, although both excellent by movie standards. I have always preferred the detail in books to movies. The Shining is the best King book movie in my opinion. Thanks for visiting.

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      1. I agree 100%.
        Every time you read and book and see the movie the book wins. The Godfather and The Time Travellers Wife are two books that blow away the movies. and the movies were good. But books open the imagination in a way a movie never can.

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      1. Ah-ha! Yes, I’m familiar with those films, but didn’t realize King ever used a penname.
        LOL, to what you said about the serial killer from a good background… be careful. They are certainly out there, hiding behind a clean cut attractive-but-ordinary façade. More hugs.

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  4. On my husband’s recommendation, I read this book years ago out of curiosity. I vaguely remember not liking the ending of “The Body,” although I don’t remember why. The book of King’s I did really like is 11/22/63.

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