A sharply imaginative, sweetly funny, tenderly uplifting fable. Divisive times call for unifying tales. Written in masterly King’s signature translucent style and set in one of his trademark locales, this uncharacteristically glimmering fairy tale calls unabashedly for us to rise above our differences ... Succinct, magical, timely.
There’s nothing really light about Stephen King ... But...King has delivered a near-weightless tale. I read Elevation in less time than it took to watch last year’s movie adaptation of It. Weight is the preoccupation of this slim novel, which at first feels like a riff on one of King’s earliest works (written under a pseudonym), Thinner ... But King also has in mind the weight of close-mindedness and prejudice ... One of the story’s most gripping moments hinges on the results of a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. It’s all pretty small ... There’s more than a hint of the 'holiday novella'—so popular in the romance genre—to Elevation, and I imagine many fans would be satisfied if King settled into a late career of one heavy meal and one amuse bouche every year. While the final pages are reminiscent of one of his son Joe Hill’s best short stories (to mention the title would give away too much), there’s a sweetness that feels like something new for King. It’s heavy out there right now. Here’s something that’s not.
You’ll chew through a few chapters of Elevation before realizing there is no razor blade in this caramel apple. King’s new novel is trick and treat, a poignant parable of prejudice overcome and resentment healed ... And yet this novel may repel stridently progressive readers as much as it does staunchly conservative ones — which, I suspect, will not trouble King too much ... [King] has written a slim book about an ordinary man in an extraordinary condition rising above hatred and learning to live with tact and dignity. That’s not much of a Halloween book, but it’s well timed for our terrifying season.
Stephen King’s newest novel, Elevation, is perhaps the most uplifting of his career ... What follows is a wonderful collision of two very different plots, culminating in a third narrative strand that takes us to the end of the novel ... Elevation is the kind of story you could inhale in a leisurely hour. But for all its slightness, it is a rewarding and philosophically complex piece of work, offering both social critique and a meditation on how our different experiences shape our minds. It’s an encouraging direction for a writer whose themes seem to be maturing as he does.
Even fans who have long adjusted to the more benign 21st-century King may be taken aback to find the former horror-meister penning a modern-day hagiography, and one that ends with a version of an apotheosis. Once out to make our flesh creep, he morphs here into a subtler writer, using fantasy to relate an ethical parable that, like its outwardly stereotypical hero, has a hidden complexity.
... Elevation is a kind-hearted parable about finding common ground with our neighbors, which is, honestly, a relief in a time when the relentless noise of our 24/7 news cycle hews a bit too close to horror sometimes ... Now, the bad news: Elevation, while sweet, is a mere slip of a book, both physically (at 160 pages, its word count comes in a lot lower than some of the stories in his periodic collections) and in terms of mental effort (both his and yours). It is obvious, from a pretty early point, where the book is going, and the message isn’t particularly subtle ... It’s not the first time [King's] written something meant to inspire, rather than terrify... but at this political moment, its earnestness is refreshing, if a bit short in length and long on price.
Who would’ve guessed that King would have new notes to strike nearly 45 years after emerging onto the scene, but he strikes them here, in a piece that’s thoughtful and even moving at times, without ever being particularly satisfying ... Elevation wants for conventional drama, even if there’s something touching in the idea of a malevolent force being greeted with gratitude rather than fear ... it’s easy to imagine King exploring [certain plot points] in a more complex or challenging way. If nothing else, you want a story to go along with the idea, or at least more ideas for your money. This one is for completists only, and devoted ones at that.
... the seasoned storyteller opts to tread lightly, telling an unexpectedly touching tale about how we can be better together ... That’s not to say Elevation lacks a speculative element. It’s even somewhat spooky ... Over the course of Elevation, King threads these two tales together expertly... By the time this brief book is concluded on the back of the annual Turkey Trot, a charity 12k both Scott and Deirdre compete in, the two tales have become one, to excellent effect. Elevation’s excellence is also evident from earlier on in the novella. Though they spring fully-formed from the Stephen King playbook, its characters... are relatable right out of the gate, and so deftly developed over the story’s course that their respective destinations appear inevitable in retrospect.
Elevation shares with much of King’s other fiction a sense of a lived-in world ... For all that Elevation is a compact book, it’s also a complex one. It’s a moving story about a man grappling with his own mortality sooner than he expected to. It’s also about solitude and unlikely bonds. To King’s credit, he doesn’t simplify or smooth the edges of the story he’s telling ... Some King books come complete with sprawling cosmologies and extended mythologies. Not this one. It’s a quiet, precise story about grappling with the uncanny and leaving behind the best possible legacy.
[Elevation is] a quick, satisfying read, as opposed to his more epic (though still satisfying) recent tomes like Sleeping Beauties and The Outsider. And there’s still a weird, unnatural situation (it is Stephen King, after all) but with an undercurrent of humanity and tolerance in the face of modern social strife at the core of resident Scott Carey’s odd tale ... [Elevation is] a feel-good tale with a definite whiff of the bittersweet, so no one should worry he’s turning into Nicholas Sparks or Richard Paul Evans. (Again: Stephen King, remember?) This is just the sign of a master simply elevating his own legendary game yet again.
[An] elegant whisper of a story ... one wishes there were just a little more backstory ... A touching fable with a couple of deft political jabs on the way to showing that it might just be possible for us all to get along.
Surprisingly sweet and quietly melancholy ... a lilting ode to the ineffable power that crises hold to change and mold those involved into something new. King’s tender story is perfect for any fan of small towns, magic, and the joys and challenges of doing the right thing.