The Regulators – Stephen King

The Regulators is the “companion novel” to Desperation, which I posted about last week. Let me just tell you, it was very strange reading them back to back.

It’s a mid summer afternoon in Wentworth, Ohio. Poplar Street is your stereotypical suburban block, populated by young families, older couples, and the occasional loner/hermit. The residents are enjoying the beautiful weather—playing Frisbee, walking to the corner store, washing cars—when mayhem strikes in the form of a red van idling at the street corner. Soon, their quiet street is shattered by wave after wave of inexplicable events. Only a small autistic boy named Seth Garin and his aunt, Audrey Wyler, truly understand what’s happening—but will they be able to save Poplar Street from the mysterious evil that has overtaken them?

According to Wikipedia, King released Desperation and The Regulators at the same time—Desperation under his own name and The Regulators under his pen name, Richard Bachman. Both novels have the same general undertone: possession by an evil spirit named Tak. Same characters, too, but in different situations and sometimes in different configurations (for example, in Desperation, the Carver family consists of parents Ralph and Ellen, with David and Kirsten as the children; in The Regulators, David and Kirsten are the parents, and Ralph and Ellen are the kids).

I think The Regulators was substantially more bloody (which seems to be par for the course with Bachman novels—I’ve always found them to be rather more dark than mainstream King novels). Not that Desperation wasn’t bloody, but—SPOILER ALERT—I’m pretty sure maaany more people die in The Regulators. The whole Tak thing was very differently explored as well, with a very different solution.

I enjoyed The Regulators, but I still liked Desperation better, I think. But that probably mostly comes down to my straight-up confusion at reading a completely different story about basically the same characters. I probably would have liked The Regulators better had I read it first, but I guess we’ll never know!

If you’ve read both, what did you think about each? Which did you like better? (And which did you read first?)

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10 thoughts on “The Regulators – Stephen King

  1. Your venture into Stephen King’s bibliography reminds me of the week I spent delving into the discography of Elvis Costello. Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I’f find a whole cluster of albums I’d never even heard of. Great stuff!

    • It’s always fun discovering things you never thought existed! I’m still caught off guard sometimes with SK when I hear titles I think I’ve never heard of–but I must have, because I made the list on my blog! It’s been a really fun project, though, and (clearly) I’m enjoying it quite a bit!

      • I want to read the Shining later this year, if I finish all the other books. He only has one book,The Shining, on the 1001 list. Doesn’t that seem crazy. He has so many books and so many fans, but only one book on it.

        • It does–but the more experience I have with The List the more and more arbitrary it seems. I might be redirecting my goals one of these days to something more realistic for me (and more enjoyable too) since movement on The List hasn’t really been happening much recently.

          • The list has good and bad points. One good thing is that I am reading works that I normally wouldn’t read. One bad is that it favors American and English writers a lot…a lot. I don’t just stick to the list, but it is fun to work on it. But, like you, I haven’t made a whole lot of progress with the list. Good thing I gave myself 50 years to complete it.

            • Yeah…theoretically I’m giving myself my entire life to complete it, but I feel bogged down recently. I know it’ll pass, but for the past few months I’ve been feeling the quick reads much more than the “I really need to sit down and concentrate on this” reads.

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