I can't say I'm much of a Stephen King fan. I may have read bits and pieces when I was a kid, but in adulthood I have read a novella, a novel and the first few chapters of one other novel.
The novella was The Body, part of the collection Different Seasons. It was famously made into the beautifully crafted 1986 movie Stand by Me, directed by Rob Reiner. Much of the book made it almost word-for-word into the screenplay. It certainly has some very readable, funny dialogue. But the book was just "okay."
Then I began The Shining. (I recently moved, and shelves of Stephen King paperbacks are all I've had to hand.) Frankly, it was a bore, and King's dialogue for a five-year-old was embarrassingly unconvincing (even for a five-year-old with psychic gifts).
Misery was a compulsive, exciting read, however.
It is easy to find flaws in King's writing, and they can get annoying at times. For example, he picks up a metaphor and uses it to death. In the first part of Misery he latches onto the metaphor of a tide washing over a wooden post, and all of a sudden it's everywhere, branching out into all kinds of sub-metaphors. He doesn't seem to know when to lay it to rest.
The excerpts from the central character's novel are pretty badly written, too - but apparently it turns out to be his finest novel ever. (The exception is the penultimate sequence with the bees, but I shan't be more specific and give anything away.)
However, Misery is such a tense, involving thriller, I could easily forgive these glitches. King writes truly riveting suspense sequences that leave the reader breathlessly anxious to read on. Several times I was feverishly flipping from one page to the next, uttering, "Oh shit!" under my breath as revelations were made and the plot twisted.
This is quite a remarkable feat for a story whose action mainly takes place between two people in a single setting - a setting I gained a remarkable sense for.
I look forward immensely to watching the film this evening. Although I've never seen it, it's familiar enough to me that I couldn't read the book without picturing the iconic Kathy Bates in the role of Annie Wilkes, a character King writes strikingly.