The Outsider by Stephen King and HBO Series

UPDATE: The show has ended and I actually enjoyed the last two episodes. I felt the tension that led up to the shootout between Jack and the group as they were trying to get into the Outsider’s lair. It played out comparing it with the book and Jack definitely came off crazed and conflicted as he was gunning down the people he had once called “friends”.

I know many people complained about the final “show down” with Holly and Ralph verses the Outsider but, honestly, it was very short lived in the book too. I think what the book did great, though, was in the description of how disgusting the creature looked as it was being killed. I did not like the “mimic” special effects that they used, it made it a bit corny in my opinion and I felt like the demise of the creature fell a bit flat.

Original Post: I was really excited when I heard about the adaptation of this book coming to HBO. It seems like Stephen King has had a movie coming out almost every year and a book too. So lets get into a bit of what the book is about, what I liked and didn’t like AND how the adaptation compares to the book.

The book begins with a young boy being murdered very violently. All evidence suggests that the town’s baseball coach, Terry Maitland, is blamed for his death. All evidence at the scene, DNA and finger prints, leaves very little doubt that he is guilty. However, the case is put on it’s head when they come up with conflicting reports of Terry being at two places at one time; miles away from each other.

Ralph Anderson is the detective on the case and with the persuasion of the District Attorney, they decide to arrest Terry during a baseball game in front of the entire town. This puts a target on Terry and his family’s back. The evidence continues to pile up and the community turns their back on their once beloved coach and his family.

As Ralph continues to piece the case together, things are becoming hard to dismiss as evidence becomes contradictory and out of the realm of possible. Terry’s own lawyer hires an investigator to collect evidence to support that Terry was at a teachers conference during the time of the crime. With evidence of Terry at both places, Ralph is having trouble being at peace with his actions. As Terry’s court date comes to pass, he is gunned down by none other than the older brother of the victim. Terry dies before receiving a chance to stand trial.

More details emerge that Ralph cannot shake as logical. He is also having issues coming to terms with what is happening and at this point a new person joins the team. A private investigator named Holly Gibney helps uncover more unnerving and supernatural elements to this crime. With an ancient boogie man on the lose, the team is taken in a very different direction to find what creature is indirectly responsible for Terry’s murder and the murders of others.

Now that the synopsis is over, let’s start with what I liked about the book. I thought the development of the characters were fantastic. The mood of the book is set very quickly and the confusion of what is going on is evident from the start. The book is fast paced and you find yourself questioning what is going on, alongside the characters. I love the tie in with the character Holly that comes from Stephen King’s other books (I am almost done watching Mr. Mercedes and started the book, need to pick up Finders Keepers and End of Watch too).

What I did not like was the ending…….yes…once again it was the damn ending. I felt the climax, the big pay off was VERY short lived. After this huge build up to the creature, it felt like it was all said and done in a few short pages. I also did not visualize what was the boogeyman/Cucuy to look the way it did. Not actually sure what I wanted for that but it just felt very lackluster. However, I do feel like the book is worth a read and like I said, the pace keeps the story moving.

Now the show………

I was very excited to see the adaptation of this book. I wasn’t disappointed with the first few episodes. I felt the story was so far leading up to a very true and accurate adaptation. I also felt, like the book, the show was very face pace and getting to points where the audience would stay with the story and want to see it unfold. BUT…then there were difference I wasn’t very keen on.

A big one was the down play of Jack, the other cop, that just has a gripe with everyone. There is a VERY clear dislike of Ralph coming from Jack. They don’t really play it up why this guy is “chosen” by the Outsider and I feel like they are missing a great development in a character and which would make it feel less random. I also had a huge issue with how they came to the realization that the Outsider is like the Boogeyman or Cucuy from Hispanic lore that feeds off of sadness and grief. Sablo, one of the other detectives in the group, starts to make the connection in the other murders and Holly brings up an old luchador movie with the monster being the Cucuy that Sablo then elaborates on. I felt like in the show they put all of the big “AH HA!” moments on just Holly, when in fact in the book it felt more like an actual group effort despite Ralph being reluctant to believe in this supernatural creature.

I also felt that Ralph’s character came off way to soft in the show. Him and his wife came off as a great duo that worked together and relied on one another, mainly Ralph relying on his wife to shoot ideas off of. This TV relationship came of strained especially with the changing of the status of Ralph’s son being dead in the show versus alive in the book.

The HBO series is not over yet, as I write this, and the last episode once again was a swift from the book and I am not sure how the big climactic scene is going to unfold. I feel like the show started off very strong but drifted in a way where I am losing a bit of interest in the character and honestly Ralph is becoming quiet annoying. I will hang on till the end and give an updated review on the show.

As for ratings: The Outsiders (the book): 3.75 out of 5.0 Book had a great flow, characters were well developed but I did not like the ending. The Outsiders (the show): 3.0 out of 5.0 The show started very strong and was coming off as a great adaptation but strayed from the book about 4 episodes in, leaving me feeling disconnect from the characters and not that involved with the conclusion.

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