Author: Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)
While I haven’t yet read the companion book Desperation, nothing in The Regulators makes me excited to read more about this story. **Spoilers throughout this review**
The Regulators is a story about a street full of people who are terrorized and murdered when a van shows up with a radar dish on top and begins gunning them down. The book starts with kids and a dog getting shot, with not enough time to know about any of the victims or really care what happens to them. The violence ends up being cartoony in its execution, which may be intentional since some of the killers are based on cartoon characters.
The bulk of the characters in this book are not memorable from the moment they are introduced to their death. There’a cop, there’s an author, and the rest are even less impactful. The only time the story really has any weight is when it’s a woman named Audrey struggling with raising an autistic boy named Seth. Seth has picked up some sort of entity named Tak who takes him over from time to time and causes pain and suffering for others. Sometimes that involves taking control of other people’s bodies and making them injure themselves, other times it’s by bringing to life children’s cartoon character called the Moto-Cops and having them shoot people in the style of an old western called “The Regulators.”
Seth picked up Tak when he asked his family to stop at an old mine in a town called Desperation, which will likely tie in to the events of that book. Reading this as a companion to that book however was not enough to keep me motivated to enjoy it. My biggest problem with the book was ever scene that didn’t include Seth. I never cared about any of the people who lived on the street, and although King gets right into the action this is the first one of his books I’ve read that could have used another 150 pages to develop some of these characters more to the point that I’d care about them dying.
King also wrote this as Richard Bachman. He even references Stephen King late in the story with one character talking about reading The Shining. Overall, the Bachman books weren’t some of my favorite King writings, with the exception being The Long Walk. The Regulators continues a rough run of King books in 1990’s that didn’t exactly lighting the world on fire.