I read a lot, but I would be lying to you if I said that books scare me easily. There’s just something about words that seem so harmless, at least to me. Many writers have the problem of weaving stories with flawless protagonists. That’s certainly not a problem Stephen King has, as evident in his hit psychological thriller Misery. Paul Sheldon, a successful yet dissatisfied writer, is left crippled after an automobile accident. At the site of the crash, it seems he is saved when passionate fan and nurse Annie Wilkes comes to his rescue, but he quickly learns that his savior-turned-captor has no intentions of letting him leave her sight anytime soon.
What would your life be like if you were suddenly held captive by a psychologically unstable woman, with extremely little mobility and chances to escape? That’s the question King asks in Misery. What makes it so horrifying is the perpetual sense of helplessness readers feel, not only for Sheldon, but for ourselves. There are three forces in Misery that our protagonist’s life revolves around: his injury, his drug addiction, and his captor. Unlike other protagonists’ injuries which tend to be temporary and usually relatively insignificant, Sheldon’s disability is present throughout almost the entire novel. Likewise, his life for the story (and arguably, his life after it) is governed by a second force: Annie Wilkes. She quickly hooks him on a fictional drug called Novaril, forcing him to need and want her, which is actually what she most desires.
This iconic novel is legitimately scary. It will remain one of my favorite books for a while, and I recommend it to anyone due to its close look at addiction and for an excellent plot that is masterfully suspenseful. This is King at his best.