I’d been thinking about reading ‘The Colorado Kid’ by Stephen King for a long time, mostly because Haven is loosely based on this novella. Here’s your moment to ask “What’s been stopping you?” To answer your question, it was the plethora of negative reviews the book has received. Despite my ardor for all things Stephen King, I can admit he’s fallen flat a time or four*. What it boiled down to was that I didn’t want to add another book to the short but significant list of Stephen King books I’ve disliked. But luckily, I thought ‘The Colorado Kid’ was a decent read, though I can see what angered most readers. Sensitive readers beware: spoilers abound in the following review. Sort of.
People like answers. They like a distinct beginning, middle, and end – preferably with a pretty bow and a happily ever after. Life is rarely like that. Often we don’t get the answers we seek and are left wondering about whatever unanswerable question we are currently pondering (this is once we move past the school age tradition of “Do you like me? Check Yes or No”, which is a damn shame). Ambiguity is hard. Answers are satisfying. ‘The Colorado Kid’ is entirely the former and has not a single bit of the latter.
A man is found dead on a small Maine island. He has no identification and there is no sign of foul play. Who is he? Where did he come from? And what was he doing eating a late night steak on a cold beach? As the two local island reporters describe the case to their young intern, they reveal what little information is available in flashbacks.
‘The Colorado Kid’ is a novella published as part of the Hard Case Crime series. There is a beginning, a middle, and a death, but there is no resolution. The story simply ends. It’s a recounting of why the death was mysterious. No more, no less. It builds up the mystery only to…end. While it can seem frustrating, you can also take it for what it is – a hard case (haha) where the mystery is more fascinating than any possible resolution. It’s more interesting that the Colorado kid died on a cold Maine beach than how he got to the beach where he died. At least that’s what Stephen King wants you to believe. It’s up to you to make your own decision. Can you handle the unsolved mystery and just enjoy the ride? Or will you feel like you wasted your time when you learn nothing? You know how I feel. 3.5/5. If I have one problem with the book it’s the weird, misleading cover.
I would like to point out that for those of you who want a King novel with little gore, little cursing, and little scariness, this one may be for you – though it’s almost un-King-like. Could you handle learning about a man’s life and death for 178 pages only to realize you’ll never actually learn anything? And have you ever read a King novel you hated? Because I, for one, can’t get over that one scene in Gerald’s Game… If you’ve read it, you probably know what I’m talking about.
On that note, I’m recommending a lobster roll to accompany ‘The Colorado Kid’. It’s a coastal Maine staple (along with fish and chips, both of which are served in this otherwise gastronomically slim novel).
*The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, Cell, Gerald’s Game. Feel free to add in the King novel that you feel is shit – people like to rag on Insomnia, Duma Key, Rose Madder, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (all of which I liked, incidentally).