From A Buick 8
Written by: Stephen King
Published by: Scribner
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I picked up From a Buick 8, my first Stephen King novel ever, hoping to see for myself the famed writer who’d earned so many accolades. I was sadly disappointed. While the book has colorful, well-written characters and is actually an interesting read, it is by no stretch of even my imagination, up to the hype of the icon that is Stephen King.
From A Buick 8, is the story of a boy—Ned Wilcox—who struggles with the death of his father, a Pennsylvania State Police Officer, and finds solace by befriending and working for his father’s colleagues. The story is told mostly through flashbacks, spanning twenty-five years from the time Curtis—Ned’s father—was a rookie until his death at the hands of a drunk driver.
The problem here is that the boy trying to connect with the memory of his father becomes swept away in an unrelated story of a mysterious Buick that his father had found and towed to the barracks two and a half decades earlier. The officers of Troop D, take turns telling Ned about the Buick and the strange occurrences it causes, but not much about his father.
The Buick, which has no battery, is incapable of driving, is several degrees colder than the outside world, and heals itself, becomes an obsession for the boy and he quickly demands to know all about it. He learns that “lightquakes,” greenback beetles, bat-things, fish-things the size of a sofa, white leaves, and licorice-looking men that spit acid, have all come out of the trunk of the Buick throughout its twenty-five year stay with Troop D. While this is a fantasy story, I find it hard to believe that after all of that, and the disappearance of two men—presumably into the car itself—they did not attempt to destroy or get rid of the car. They kept it a secret, kept it away from the world, and kept it all for themselves. While it was inferred—at the very end—that the Buick had some pull over them, it was not clearly expressed enough to be a viable reason for not destroying the vehicle.
The story climaxes with Ned Wilcox trying to blow up the car with gasoline, blaming it for the death of his father—which wasn’t true and he knew that. The other troopers stop him, and save him from being pulled into the world of licorice men, and suddenly he’s okay. The car, which they all said had been slowly losing its strength over the years, begins to break down after that, and it is implied that soon the Buick would be nothing more than a pile of useless parts.
That’s it. Over all the story felt like a bunch of plot devices combined with an attempt on the part of the writer not to rewrite an old story. From A Buick 8, would have made more sense to me if one of the people that had disappeared had been Ned’s father and if it had happened closer to the present time. It would have explained his obsession with it, his need to destroy it. Also that would make it more believable that the police kept the Buick for so long. All in all, I would recommend the book to anyone who doesn’t expect much and is just looking for something easy to occupy their time. Hardcore horror and science fiction fans beware.