Rating: 3 of 5
A lost-in-the-woods adventure that lacks much of the imagination displayed in King’s other works. Entertaining, but only for those who enjoy fairy tale-ish plots, and those who are patient (and open-minded) enough to overlook a protagonist who doesn’t quite fit the typical nine-year-old girl.
Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods. (Source: StephenKing.com)
Probably my biggest problem was Trisha McFarland; she did not act or think like a real nine-year-old. There were times I would have thought her at least thirteen and other times eighteen or nineteen. I dunno. Sure, adults tend to underestimate kids and their abilities, but Trisha made me consciously suspend my disbelief.
The main exploration of fear in Tom Gordon was Trisha’s solitude and survival in the wilderness. There was nothing really imaginative in the plot, characters, or “twist.” The horror aspects were mild to bland, most times barely scratching the surface of the possibilities. And the story contained adequate tension and suspense which built to a satisfying climax.
Having said that, I enjoyed the book for what it was: a story of “man versus nature” which, ultimately, is a battle between the will to live and the urge to give up.