The Green Mile by Stephen King: I have found I prefer King’s non-horror stories, and this was no exception. This is a serial novel in six parts (and I actually own all six individual books, in addition to the six-in-one paperback), so I’ll review each one separately.
1. The Two Dead Girls: Not a whole lot happens in this section except for exposition: you learn of John Coffey’s crime, brutally murdering and raping two young sisters, and you get to know the narrator (Paul) and some of his coworkers. One thing I noticed was that Coffey’s guilt is just assumed without much in the way of evidence. This big black man is found holding the two corpses and sobbing away, and everybody figures he must have been the one who killed them. “I couldn’t help it” could have multiple meanings, especially since he didn’t elaborate. But I guess being a black man in 1930s Louisiana was crime enough for these folks. Anyway, it was a fine enough start, though if I didn’t already have the rest of the series I probably wouldn’t have been interested enough to continue.
2. The Mouse on the Mile: I love Mr. Jingles. The dichotomy between him and the other major character introduced – the evil William Wharton – is interesting. I like how Mr. Jingles’s un-mouse-like intelligence is neither questioned nor explained, nor is Wharton’s sheer malice for everyone he encounters. Can’t wait for the next one.
3. Coffey’s Hands: Man oh man, does this one end on a cliff-hanger. Granted, I’ve seen the movie so I know (more or less) what happens, but it’s been so many years that I’d forgotten much of it. It’s at this point that Edgecomb starts to doubt Coffey’s guilt and Percy starts to go over the edge. You can feel the tension build.
4. The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix: This one is certainly well-named. For all I might not like his horror plots, King certainly knows how to describe gore vividly. That’s a mental picture I won’t be forgetting any time soon. I didn’t think I could hate Percy any more than I already did, but I managed.
5. Night Journey: Honestly, I think this was the most suspenseful installment of the entire series. Edgecomb and his crew sneak Coffey out of the prison to drop in on the warden, and any number of things could go wrong at any moment. Of course, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, with one more book to go.
6. Coffey on the Mile: Hoo boy. If you’re looking for a good cry, you’ll probably get one reading this. I thought I was okay after the first heart-wrenching scene, but two or three more after that really got me going. But in a good way. The ending is reasonably satisfying, and kind of thought provoking. After all, since it’s told in first person it’s impossible to know for sure what happens to the narrator after the story is finished, and that kind of open-endedness is sort of neat for this sort of tale.
Also posted on BookCrossing.