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Chuck Wendig
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Throttle - Stephen King, Joe Hill This story is supposed to be an homage to Richard Matheson's "Duel", but as I was reading the story, it seemed like it was more "Sons of Anarchy" fanfiction than anything else. There's a motorcycle club with patches on their leather jackets, riding in groups along dusty highways, involved in questionable activities, and hey, two of the members are father and son, and they seem to be going through some sort of power struggle! But, according to the Amazon, this story is "a compelling idea -- well researched, well argued, and well illustrated -- expressed at its natural length." I guess "well researched" means liberally borrowed from?

Regardless, the connection to "Duel" is there, with the motorcycle club going up against an unseen driver of a tanker truck on an empty highway. The story works better with a group of people up against the truck, as opposed to it being just one person, since the pacing of the story progresses well as members of the club are picked off during the battle. Some of the scenes seem overly descriptive, with the graphic descriptions of violence bordering on gratuitous, but the terror of being isolated and trapped was captured very well.

While the story takes inspiration from "Duel", it isn't a carbon copy of the story. The trucker is never actually seen, and the menace of the truck, not the driver, is the real antagonist here. The authors step away from that, though, and give the driver of the truck a reason for doing what he does. I won't spoil that for you, but while the trucker remains nameless and faceless, he isn't anonymous.

I also liked how the authors created the characters of the club members. While they seemed to mimic the characters on Sons of Anarchy (there was a smart one, a slow one, and one who was funniest when he wasn't trying to be funny), they each had a reason to be in the club. Each of them was a little broken, either from serving in futile military engagements, coming from a broken home, etc. Each of them was an outcast from a society that didn't understand them, and it makes sense that they came together through the motorcycle club; they were looking for companionship with like-minded people and found it through their collective brokenness.

I've read both Hill and King, and the style of this story is distinctly Hill's. I suspect that King served as the idea man for the story, and Hill was the one who actually wrote it. That's not a bad thing at all, though; Hill's style is more clipped and measured than King's, and even if it's not as vivid and natural as what King writes, it's the proper tone for the story. Plus, compared to the last two e-books of King's I've read, this one at least had tension, and proper pacing. I was gripped as the story entered its third act.

Ur and Mile 81 were disappointing because they were e-books written more for promotional purposes than for the stories themselves. Throttle reads more like an actual story, possibly because it was written for the story, not for anything else. This story was originally featured in an anthology in honor of Richard Matheson, and was later picked up as an e-book. I'm glad to have read it (and am even more glad that I have two other Joe Hill books to read), but the next time I see a Stephen King e-book I haven't read before, I'm going to do a little more research before buying them. One out of three isn't a very good track record.