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Review – Thinner by Richard Bachman


by Richard Bachman
309 pages
Published 1984

I don’t know why, but I decided I wanted to read a scary book. I think it had something to do with not being able to stay up for the whole 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, and I thought if I’d had a scary book, then surely I would have been able to stay awake. So I asked my friend, Jessica, for what she would recommend I read by Stephen King that wasn’t supernatural (i.e. it couldn’t have ghosts, demons, or anybody possessed). Thinner was on that list and I snatched it up from the library.

*Sidenote: This book is so old (“How old is it?”) that it has the little pocket on the very first page of the book with due dates stamped in. I totally remember that’s how books used to be checked out.

**Second Sidenote: Richard Bachman was a pseudonym that Stephen King used for a while…so I’ll just say this was written by Stephen King, since Stephen King’s name has way scarier connotations than Richard Bachman.

Thinner is about Billy Halleck, a really fat guy who accidentally kills a Gypsy woman with his car. You’d never guess (or maybe you would) why Billy was distracted while driving, but it made me snicker. Okay, okay, I’ll tell you, since this isn’t really a spoiler: *whispering* his wife was giving him a hand job. HAHAHA!! I know, right? Billy’s angry through much of the book because HE gets punished but it’s his WIFE who distracted him and nothing happens to HER.

Anyway, I’m totally distracting myself.

So Billy kills this old Gypsy woman, and he’s put on trial but is acquitted. Shortly after he’s acquitted, an old Gypsy man walks by him, caresses Billy’s face with his finger, and says, “Thinner.”

Creepy, right?

And Billy’s totally stoked when he starts losing weight, which he’s half-heartedly tried to do in the past, and now the weight is coming off effortlessly! Huzzah! But then Billy gets worried that is doesn’t matter what he eats, he’s still losing weight, so he goes to a doctor who’s kind of a friend and the doctor can’t figure out what’s wrong but doesn’t seem too concerned because it’s not like Billy’s emaciated yet. Then Billy gets this idea that he should check on the other people involved, so to speak, in the vehicular manslaughter, like the cop who did the investigation and the judge who let Billy off the hook, and each person involved is going through some horrible physical transformation that doctors can’t figure out. ACK!

So Billy sets out to find the Gypsy man who did this to him, knowing it’s between that and death, and hopes the Gypsy man can reverse this…curse. Billy hopes the Gypsy man can do something, after all, he still has a wife and daughter, and certainly a little bit of groveling never hurt anyone.

As far as the writing goes…meh. Not so much. I’ve read one other Stephen King book (The Green Mile when it was coming out in novellas, one by one) and I don’t remember the writing exactly, but I certainly don’t remember not liking it. Let’s just say that the writing didn’t suck me in, and as the story was a little slow going in the beginning, I was impatient for some action. The story was good, though like I said, it was slow going in the beginning because you don’t learn about the other cursed people for at least 75 pages, but once you learn about those people…oh, there’s no stopping the story.

And the ending! Holy cow, I was reeling from that for DAYS.

Rating: 84 out of 100

What’s your favorite Stephen King book?

| Tags: , , , , , , , , 23 comments »

23 Responses to “Review – Thinner by Richard Bachman”

  1. bybee

    I really like this one a lot (I read it and audio-booked it), but my favorite of Uncle Steve’s is Misery.


  2. Maree

    I haven’t read Thinner. My favourite Stephen King is The Stand. Love it 🙂


  3. raidergirl3

    Ooh, I can’t remember how Thinner ends!

    I’m reading Lisey’s Story right now and we got Duma Key for Christmas here.

    Favorite King book? Tough call. The Stand has to be up there, and Different Seasons, with the 4 novellas.
    I remember loving Eyes of the Dragon and The Talisman too, and of course his short story collection, Night Shift. I used to own all of his books, but these are the ones I’ve kept, so they must be the favorites.


  4. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    I really love “It” when I read that ages ago.


  5. Megan

    I remember reading Thinner in high school. Or at least during summer vacation when I was still in school. It was definitely a stay up late book for me – I can still remember reading it late into the night after everyone was asleep.

    I read a bunch of Stephen King when I was younger, but I’m hard pressed to say which one was my favorite. For some reason, Insomnia seems to stick in my head, so maybe that’s the one! 🙂


  6. Andi

    I’ve read a few Stephen King books, and my favorite was probably The Shining or Salem’s Lot. Least favorite was definitely The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It had that slow feeling you were talking about alllllll the way through. Blarrrg!


  7. Meghan

    It is definitely my favorite. Second Stephen King book I read, and I just loved the deep characterizations and complexity of the plot. I haven’t read it in years though and I’m not sure how it would stand up to what I’ve read since then.

    I have never really liked his Richard Bachman books as much, I got stuck halfway through one and haven’t tried another since.


  8. Becky

    I loved The Stand as well. Loved it.


  9. Jessica Coleman

    My favorite is Bag of Bones, but you shouldn’t read it because it’s about ghosts.


  10. Joanne

    I’ve always found that Stephen King books take about 50-150 pages to really get moving. There is always so much detail, description and backstory in his set-ups.

    My favorite Kings are The Dark Tower series (fantasy) and Pet Semetary (horror).


  11. Staci

    yeah, this book scared me to death. I still remember reading Christine and getting myself all worked up because I knew for a fact that I could hear a car outside my house revving its engine!! I loved all of his old stuff and the Bachman books. The newer stuff not so much.


  12. Jo

    “The Shining,” without a doubt. It’s one of my favorite books ever, Stephen King or not.

    But I also loved “The Green Mile.” And “Hearts in Atlantis.” And “‘Salem’s Lot.” And “The Dead Zone.” And “Four Seasons.” …..

    So basically, I love Stephen King. He’s not perfect, though. I hated “Desperation” and “Dreamcatcher” was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever read. The problem with him is, he’s very, very descriptive and sometimes describes things I don’t want to read about.


  13. Jo

    I stand corrected. The Stephen King book that I love is “Different Seasons.”

    “Four Seasons” is the title of a lovely set of Vivaldi concertos that I love. Not exactly the same thing.


  14. brideofthebookgod

    I never could get into the Richard Bachman books; I always suspected that they weren’t “real” King and if they had been up to his usual standard he wouldn’t have used a pseudonym…..

    I have a huge affection for him though, and although I can’t really say that I have a favourite I suspect I reserve my softest spot for Salem’s Lot as it creeped me out when I was a teenager and I do so have thing for vampires….


  15. Ladytink_534 (Jen)

    My favorite Stephen King book is The Stand but I LOVE his Bachman Books- especially the short story Rage.


  16. lisamm

    OH, I read Thinner eons ago and LOVED it at the time!! Can’t say as I remember the ending now but I do remember bumping into walls while reading this book because I couldn’t put it down. I think it was my first Steven King book, although I know I read Misery and Pet Semetary and Christine way back when, too. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!


  17. stephanie

    I actually love the way Stephen King writes. It’s just so simple and readable. And always has the ability to suck me right in. Of course, I read this many moons ago. And it was one of the first books he wrote.

    His best book by far is The Stand. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. But it’s a whopper….something like 1400 pages. But it is SO worth the effort!


  18. Jessica

    I always have wanted to read this one!


  19. Dreamybee

    I always liked The Eyes of the Dragon-it’s not King’s typical horror, so you could probably read it! If I remember correctly, the scariest thing is the evil wizard, and he’s not a ghost or possessed or anything, just evil.


  20. Katie

    great book! I love Stephen King. My favorites are the Dark Tower series and The Stand. But I could come up with reasons that I love almost all of his books!


  21. R J Dent

    Good review of an average-ish novel. It only starts to rev up when Richard Ginelli arrives and takes over – terrorizing the gypsies and looking after Billy Halleck. There are far too many brand names littered throughout the text – even for Stephen King, but then I suppose that’s why it’s a Bachman novel. The Bachman novels in general are slightly watered-down King – although Rage and The Long Walk are excellent, as is The Running Man. If you’re interested in Richard Bachman, you can read my essay about him here:
    If you like King, try The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.


  22. R J Dent

    No, nothing supernatural – just a girl lost in the woods and something watching her. Also Gerald’s Game is a good, scary read. You could try taking a look at:
    for my overview of King’s novels; and you could try:
    for my take on Richard Bachman – King’s alter-ego/pseudonym.
    Happy reading.
    R J D


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