Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 23 Mar 2018
A work of fiction, Apt Pupil was originally a novella subtitled "Summer of Corruption" in the collection titled "Different Seasons", but I was able to find it as a stand-alone audio book from my local library. Cutting to the chase, I found this book to be a very dark story, even for Stephen King, who was best known for his horror novels. The story centered around two villains. The first was Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi concentration camp commandant now in hiding in the United States under the pseudonym Arthur Denker, who feared being discovered and enjoyed having total control over others. The second villain, the young Todd Bowden, began as a teenager with an interest in the macabre. King kept the focus on the relationship between the two; they each feared the other, they each emboldened the other, and they each further corrupted the other. While King's original intent was absolutely riveting, with my interest in WW2 in mind, I found the book interesting for King's take on the mind of a Nazi war criminal in hiding. Perhaps King's imagining of Dussander could be applied to Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann, Alois Brunner, and others who at least initially escaped justice at the immediate end of WW2. Were they repentant of their evils or did they think of the Nazi era with nostalgia? Were they living in constant fear of being found or were they carefree?
As noted, I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Frank Muller performed wonderfully.
King had long been known for great character development, and Apt Pupil was no exception despite its short length. The several violent scenes in this story might turn away some, but I would think that the captivating story and beautiful narration would keep most readers through to the last word.
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