somewhere around 2.5 stars or slightly above. so the thing is - i am really not into books about aliens and their spacecraft (this book), zombies (i think it was the mist and i haven't read it but i think also cell), vampires ('salem's lot), or werewolves (not a focus, but in the talisman). the fact that i liked this book as much as i did in spite of its alien content says quite a bit about how good stephen king is at his craft. how very, very good. he is truly a master storyteller and writes characters more fully than just about anyone out there. i've long used this book (this was a reread for me; i first (and last) read it probably 20 years ago) as an example of how when the characters in a stephen king novel are faced with something unbelievable, stephen king goes about convincing them as he convinces the reader. i was less convinced during this reading than i was when i first read it, but that didn't detract for me (since i'm not into alien stories anyway, i guess) and was more interested in all the peripheral stuff he does. i loved how what he had to say here about nuclear power/war ended up being something so integral to the story. i also loved his subtle references to at least 3 of his other novels (it, the talisman (multiple times), the dead zone, and a totally overt reference to the jack nicholson movie the shining (it made me laugh out loud that he referenced the movie not the book). i loved his character development, as always. i just get sucked into his writing, which eventually gets me into the story, even when it's about aliens. i wanted to not really like this book, because of the alien thing, but just couldn't help myself from liking it, because of stephen king. and in the end, of course, because it's stephen king, while it's "about aliens," it's also really about people and relationships. and he just does that so well.