Book Review – Elevation by Stephen King

Title: Elevation

Author: Stephen King

Edition: Hardcover

Page Count: 146 pages

Rating:  3 / ✨✨✨

Book Summary:

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

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“Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises.”

I’ll preface this review by saying I’ve never purchased a Stephen King book within the first week of it being released before, nor have I ever read one this close to its publication. As my first one, I wasn’t overly impressed, but I also didn’t struggle to finish it, making my way through the brief 150ish pages in under an hour and a half.

ELEVATION tells the story of Scott, a big lumberjack-esque man who is losing weight rapidly, but only according to the scale. He remains physically the same appearance-wise, and involves a local retired doctor friend to try and figure out what’s going on.

While his body is experiencing these strange changes, changes are also taking place in the tiny conservative town of Castle Rock. A pair of married women move in and open a restaurant, and the average bigotry you’d expect from a small, conservative town ensues.

King blends these two plotlines together pretty seamlessly, adding a bit of heavy handed political / social commentary into the mix as well. As someone with liberal leanings, I had mixed feelings about the way this was done.

While I appreciate the attempt at diversity, it wasn’t done very well, and I’m not quite sure that another story about a basic white guy “saving the day” of a couple of poorly written lesbians is something the world needs right now. These don’t feel like people I’ve known; they feel like stereotypes, caricatures of a ‘nice guy’, a ‘cold lesbian’, etc.

King has such a gift with writing complex, deep, emotional characters, and I was disappointed by the portrayal here, because I just didn’t get that from this story – and that’s from someone who has read and loved several of his short stories and novellas, even crying during some of them.

I loved the plot and mystery of Scott’s condition, although I’m extremely confused as to why it’s been advertised as ‘horror’ and not something closer to ‘magical realism’. There’s an incredible, fantastical element to the story that I didn’t know it would have beforehand – and I really love that sort of thing, so I was very much into it.

I saw someone else comment that this would have done well as an addition to a collection of novellas rather than as its own publication, and I would have to agree with that. As a stand-alone, it is quite a bit weaker than what I’d come to expect from King as a writer. As a part of a collection, it could have been held up by being part of a larger story or message.

One more comment – the US hardcover edition of this is gorgeous! The cover is sort of rainbow-holographic-reflective, which I ADORE, and the inside covers have a beautiful starry sky / tree skyline backdrop. Beautiful!

4 thoughts on “Book Review – Elevation by Stephen King

  1. So I read this and wasn’t really blown away with it either. I kinda wish we got to learn about Scott’s condition. I really was curious to find out why this was happening to him. Also, I ended up listening to the audiobook of this and it had an extra story in it called Laurie. Did the book have that story too or was it just the one?

      1. Ah so weird how the book only had the one but the audiobook had an extra story. I kinda zoned it out though. Yeah I wish he ended up making it a little bit longer. It was so interesting and was so sad nothing was really explained.

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