Bag of Bones begins with the lulling, soft, authentic voice of Michael Noonan as he tells his incredible story, starting from his wife's sudden death and including the hard to believe events that follow. With a gripping combination of quiet grief and a startling, sometimes blunt, sense of humor, readers quickly find themselves deeply caring for Mike as soon as the end of chapter one. King has a very clear understanding of readers and their needs and gives it to us perfectly wrapped in an astonishing tale of death, vengeance, cruelty, love, and life.
The story is told in the voice of Mike Noonan. It's honest, blunt, and flawed--just like him. The otherworldly aspects of the story are subtly sprinkled in, so that you find yourself believing undoubtedly in everything as Mike does without even realizing it.
The complexity of Bag of Bones is what really drew me in. It's not just anything. Not just a ghost story. Not just about a man who suddenly loses his wife. Not just about ruthless multimillionaires and custody cases. Not just about secrets. Not just about love and survival. It's all of these and more, intertwined and intermingled into one amazing, incredible story. As such, the 700+ pages didn't seem too long, though I think it could have been parred down slightly. There were a couple of long chunks of scenic description that I found myself skimming over because they were just a little too detailed (even as I was deathly afraid--pun intended--of missing some vital or genius line of fiction). Too detailed in that I was bogged down by all of the, well, details and couldn't form a vivid picture in my mind. Sometimes less really is more.
King's characters in Bag of Bones, both the main and supporting characters, were fully fleshed out, real and human--as far from being simple bags of bones as I can imagine. Mike, especially, is a character I fell in love with immediately, warts and all. There's nothing quite like a detail-rich portrayal of a flawed character to get a reader's engine going. Vroom Vroom! It's Mike's honest (or King's honest rendition of Mike's character) that enticed me. Mike wasn't the nicest or most "proper" man. He was sometimes a sarcastic ass, lewd, offensive even, but he was real.So real in fact that I couldn't help doing a little google searching to see if I could find any resemblance to a non-fictional being. And color me surprised when I discovered Irish politician, Michael Noonan and Australian writer, Michael John Noonan. Just saying. (Though they're both older than our protagonist.)
Despite its long length, I dreaded finishing Bag of Bones because I knew it would feel like losing a best friend. At the same time, Bag of Bones was such an aggressive read, emotionally; I wasn't sure whether or not I could survive all 700 pages without my heart beating clear out of my chest from the stress of incredible suspense, awe, shock, fear (for the characters! Of course, I wasn't frightened, not even one bit), disgust, utter believable-disbelief.
Then we came to the end. The gentle calm, silence after the storm. It was satisfying. I was left with the assurance that Mikey Noonan and his little guy, Kyra would be just fine, despite everything. Most loose ends were tied and all questions mostly answered. The slight sense of remaining otherworldlyness was acceptable after a story like this; we didn't need every "T" or "I" crossed and dotted.
King, I think you'd be glad to know that while a first time reader, Bag of Bones gave me not one, but two sleepless nights as I couldn't put it down! This is a definite must-read for fans of mystery-thrillers and Stephen King.