Author: Stephen King
Blaze is a “trunk novel”, a book pulled out of the dust years after it was written and released after some editing for time & relevance. Blaze is actually older than Carrie, King’s debut novel, it just wasn’t released in the 70s, instead held back and released in 2007 under King’s pseudonym Richard Bachman, making it the most recent and last Bachman Book to be published. It’s a character study with a small aspect of the supernatural and an ending that won’t make readers happy; it’s imperfect but, hey, what did you expect from the work of a master before he was one?
Clayton Blaisdell Jr (or Blaze for short) was once a very smart young man, before his father threw him down some stairs, which resulted in a big dent in his head, turning Blaze from promising to dim in an abusive instant. But his injury didn’t stop his growth, and Blaze became a big man; not the brightest Crayon in the box, but big and strong and loyal. With this rough start, he fell in with a tough crowd and ultimately teamed up with a guy named George who led cons & robberies, keeping Blaze as his muscle and, really, his friend. But George died right before the pair could pull off a grand score, leaving Blaze all alone …maybe. He still hears George telling him what to do, how to run the kidnapping and the ransom that was supposed to make them both rich, but whether it’s a ghost or an intuition Blaze isn’t smart enough to tell.
So, Blaze is a good book when it sticks to the elements that make King such a genius, and apparently he was a genius pretty quickly, since this was one of the first novels he ever wrote. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s interesting, and it exemplifies King’s ability to create a character in the blink of an eye, with a backstory that makes you feel like you’ve known them all your life. Blaze is a fascinating character, and his crime is curious as well; it’s the paranormal part that’s a little silly. Honestly, it’s only barely part of the book anyway, the question of whether George is haunting Blaze or just impacting his life in a special way. It’s almost unimportant; the real meat is meeting Blaze and learning where he came from. That’s the King magic right there, and that’s what makes the book fun to read; the rest is a bit forgettable.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆