15. Pet Sematary (Novel)

Original publication date: 1983

Pet Sematary hinges on a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another: What happens to us after we die? Of course, the issue of mortality isn’t as simple as pearly gates in Stephen King’s mind; as he sees it, we’re not guaranteed a peaceful rest after our clock’s punched out. Assuming that your loved ones have access to an ancient Indian burial ground where they can bury your dead body in order for you to return as a soulless, bloodthirsty zombie. Can’t we all relate to that?

King’s profoundly scary novel asks another question: If you could, would you bring a loved one back from the dead? By Pet Sematary’s end, the answer should be “Fuck no,” a conclusion that’s less coarsely relayed in the book’s famous line “Sometimes dead is better.” But what if you had a son who’s just learning to walk and gets flattened by a truck—would you risk him becoming a killer zombie if there was even the slightest chance of giving him another chance at “life”? Ask any parent: The response to such an inquiry isn’t easy.