Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower by Stephen King
It reads as quickly as most of King's novels, but some sections were far better for me than others. A major problem is that what's happening to Susannah is horrific--pregnancy from a demon rape that's making her carry a monster baby, Mia taking her over and eager to go to Roland's enemies to help deliver said monster baby--yet the book doesn't really make the reader feel it: there's so much, too much, distancing there. I know King is capable of doing better. It's just another debit in his presentation of Susannah throughout the series, since a lot of times things happen to her without her coming across as a person with agency. She's often more plot point than person, just like how she and Eddie were suddenly married.
I'm not pleased about the way King goes meta in Song of Susannah either, including the inclusion of Stephen King, writer and Roland's creator, into the narrative. That he kills "Stephen King" in that car accident only mitigates it a little.
The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower #7)
This finale was quite a slog. Parts of it were really good, but it's padded with filler, self-indulgence, and deus ex machina, and every single major villain of the series faces a really pitiful, anticlimactic end. Walter/Flagg gets taken out easily like a chump and not even by Roland or a member of the ka-tet. Mordred barely does anything to anyone we care about aside from his final battle with Oy and also gets taken out fairly easily, which makes the long and annoying demon pregnancy storyline seem even more pointless. The Crimson King is basically just a deranged guy who looks kinda like Santa Claus who lobs grenades off a balcony and gets erased by a deus ex machina. "Stephen King" gets an even bigger role and is just about the most important guy in the multiverse. Saving him makes Jake get killed by being run over by a speeding vehicle again. The characters get helpful notes from him! King unnecessarily takes us through the long, long, long trek Roland and Susannah make toward the Tower, which is even more of a slog without Eddie around. King kills Eddie in, I felt, a particularly cruel way: shot in the head but dying slowly of it as his quick-witted, smart-assed brain also slowly dies. Roland speaking with the annoying members of the Tet Corporation had me rolling my eyes. The author's long lecture to the readers about how we should just enjoy the journey of the series without needing to read an ending, because the ending will just disappoint us, also had me rolling my eyes. Way to give yourself on out and admit that you couldn't handle it, King.
As for the ending, I found it a bit disappointing but didn't actually mind it that much. For Roland, ka is not just a wheel but a hamster wheel that he's running. *g* Things might be different if I'd had to wait decades for this ending, as many readers had to. I read through the series in a little less than two months.
I wonder what difference having the horn--or at least making the effort to pick it up this time--makes in his quest. But does this mean he has to keep saving the Beams, with all of reality threatened, every time as well?
I wasn't impressed by Susannah's happy ending either, not even because it's schmaltzy but because those two people are not Eddie and Jake, and no talking dreams will make them so. An Eddie from White Plains instead of Co-Up City in Brooklyn (that alone makes a huge difference!), one who didn't have a brother who dragged him down, who didn't get hooked on drugs and have to fight his way off them, who didn't become a gunslinger and face all the perils of Roland's quest isn't actually Eddie. His past may have sucked but it also shaped the person he is. Jake mentally grew up so much during the quest, but this Jake didn't and he's no longer a lonely only child with distant parents. This Eddie and Jake didn't go through everything with her. There might be a horror story made out of Susannah living with these two who look like her lost loved ones and trying to disregard the differences. It sounds like they were influenced into loving her, which isn't the same.
I wasn't thrilled with all the meta involved, and I have to wonder if it would have any place in this series if King had written it earlier in his career, even aside from his car accident being such a huge thing for him.
That said, the assault on the Breakers' campus was exciting, and I cried so hard as Eddie and later Jake died. I cried a bit for Oy too.
I don't regret reading the series. There were some major high points and I really became invested in most of the characters. I don't regret meeting Eddie Dean.