One of my friends put it best, ‘So apparently Cujo is just a bad lifetime movie with a rabid dog’ and although he was referring to the movie, it pretty much sums up the book as well. I just was not impressed and couldn’t get into the novel. The major plus side was that it felt like a short novel.
If you haven’t figured it out yet I didn’t enjoy this book. I am glad I can now say I’ve read a Stephen King novel but overall it was lack-luster and disappointing. I didn’t choose to read this novel on my own, it was the selection for our April Books into Movies library book group. So my disparaging review is totally legit. I did have major issues with the formatting of this book. I read this book through Overdrive from my local library and somewhere during the conversion process a lot of mistakes were processed. It was really distracting and felt more like a galley than an actual published book.
I had a lot of problems with the book especially after it started out with such a good sense of terror and what was to come. I definitely freaked out within the first ten pages, but that feeling slowly disappeared and never returned, a lot of this had to do with King’s writing. It felt like he was writing down to his readers, almost dumbing things down for them and this bothered me. (I will provide a caveat that I read this in the middle of reading Middlemarch which is incredibly well written.)
Rather than telling the reader that things were coincidental and beating them over the head with it, it would’ve felt a lot less forced if he would’ve slowly revealed the coincidences. Cujo is King’s 12th novel and I have to assume he’d grown as a writer, but I doubt I’ll ever find out as I just was not impressed.
The plot was interesting enough and made sense, but the suspense could have been better (see above paragraph), but I felt there were just too many tangential plot points trying to converge into one: the affair, the dog, the mental abuse, the ad campaign, and the health issues. It felt as if King didn’t quite have a grasp on what he wanted to write about and just sort of threw everything into this one story.
Recommendation: Pass. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but it was far from the best. And the movie is definitely outdated, plus the dog kept wagging his tail when he was supposed to be super-vicious (I know there’s only so much you can do with an animal actor). I can definitely imagine a remake which would be much more horrible and suspenseful.
Opening Line: “Not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.”
Closing Line: “Its bones, so far as I know, still remain there with the bones of those small animals unlucky enough to have tumbled into that place before it.” (Whited out.)