You can tell that Stephen King is having a lot of fun writing these days, and Finders Keepers really shows it. It’s the sequel to Mr. Mercedes (which I wrote about here), and in certain ways, it’s a lot more enjoyable than the previous book.
I have only a couple gripes about it, and those gripes are (1) the dialogue of the teens and young kids is unrealistic (I had this same gripe about Mr. Mercedes), and (2) the names of the young kids are unrealistic. I don’t think many 8- to 12-year-old kids these days are named Barbara, Tina, Ellen, or Peter. It’d be more like Emma, Madison, Brynleigh, or Aiden. Also, at one point, King mentions his child characters trading comic books as a pastime. Again, I’m not sure this is realistic; kids these days would be more interested in trading Pokémon cards or playing video games. But overall, this is a minor gripe.
The plot was interesting as it pertained to writers and their characters, readers and their connections to those characters, and the way a powerful story can sink its teeth into you and not let go. The villain (Morris Bellamy) is obsessed with a formerly rebellious character who “sold out” in a later novel, and Bellamy grew so upset over this that he murdered the author of the series and stole $20,000 of the author’s money and a hoard of Moleskine notebooks that contained the last two novels in the series, in which the main character ceases to be a sellout and redeems himself. Unfortunately, Bellamy is vanquished before he can find out what happens in the last two novels.
Who finally stopped the villain? A teenage boy who finds the notebooks buried in the dirt by his house, reads them, and becomes hooked on the work of this particular dead author. Of course, it wouldn’t be totally feasible for this young guy to destroy Bellamy by himself, so in come Bill Hodges, Jerome Robinson, and Holly Gibney, the protagonists from Mr. Mercedes. I stated in my review of that book that I didn’t care much for Hodges because I couldn’t relate to him, but I think he’s growing on me a tiny bit. Jerome’s dialogue is still unrealistic, and because it’s still unrealistic, I’m going to pretend that it’s one of the character’s quirks rather than a flaw of the author’s. As for Holly, she is my favorite character because she has many odd habits, is somewhat mentally ill, and is recovering from a sad past, sort of like Nettie Cobb, if you remember Needful Things.
The book ended well. The villains were brought to justice (Stephen King style, with lots of gore and hellfire), and the premise of the last book in the trilogy emerged, with Brady Hartsfield (the villain from Mr. Mercedes) slowly beginning to creep out of his coma and attain telekinetic powers á la Carrie or Charlie, the girl from Firestarter. I loved Brady as a villain, so it’ll be interesting to see him return in the next book (titled End of Watch, slated to be released this coming June).
So I’d recommend Finders Keepers. It’s your typical Stephen King story but much more fast paced than some of his larger books like It and The Stand.