The Regulators // Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

My youngest son is convinced it would be amazing if the fictional characters we love could be real.

“Because wouldn’t it be awesome if Pokémon were real? “

“No,”  I tell him, “have you seen a Raticate?”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Rescue Bots were real?

“Maybe,”  I tell him, “but that would mean we would be having an awful lot of emergencies.”

This devotion to fictional characters is also the premise of Stephen King’s The Regulators. Seth is a young boy and the sole survivor of a drive-by shooting that killed the rest of his immediate family. They were at the end of a road trip that began in Ohio, passed through Desperation, Nevada, and ended in California where the tragedy took place.

Now living in Wentworth, Ohio with his aunt and uncle, Seth loves old westerns and his favorite cartoon, MotoKops 2200. Only, one day, the things Seth loves start to become real. The violent characters of MotoKops take over his otherwise idyllic summer street. Houses become log cabins. Forests become deserts. The world has gone mad and the residents of the neighborhood are along for the ride.

If you read Desperation by Stephen King, things may seem…similar. The Regulators is a companion novel, featuring many of the same characters, in a different location, facing the same villain. Desperation is the smarter, better version of the story, but The Regulators is not without merit (although the evil entity is overcome in a particularly juvenile way). There are moments where the gore is too much to be effective or interesting, and too many characters that I didn’t care about, but I’m glad I read it. It’s an evocative summer read and I enjoyed the experience*.

Is everyone else as happy as I am that their children’s cartoon characters stay fictional? I’m betting the answer is yes.

*although one I doubt I’ll repeat.

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