Follow by email

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

11.22.63 Stephen King - Book Review

This new novel from Stephen King is another door stop of a book, but it doesn’t drag in the slightest and each of its seven hundred odd pages propels the story forward – it took me a little over a week to get through it but I found myself picking up the book whenever I got the chance and instantly I was dragged into the world of yesteryear, or Land of Ago as Jake Epping, the protagonist of this story, calls it. And that is King’s most enviable ability, the way he can grab anyone from this Land of Ahead and drag us back to the Land of Ago.

It’s a magic spell that King weaves on the reader and after only a few pages we are hooked – the story contains some of the gore so beloved of vintage King but for the most part it is suspense and character that propels this story forward.

King doesn’t waste no time in setting up the time travel premise and he hurls Jake Epping, and his readers, through the wormhole to 1958. There are some references for constant readers to King’s previous works, most notably It where characters from that novel put in an appearance and there is also the matter of a red Plymouth Fury - Christine, anyone. The main meat of this meal is our heroes attempts to stop the assassination of President Kennedy but King spends as much time in building characters as he does on the main plot, which results in a powerful and satisfying novel. We feel great anguish at the fate of certain characters in the story and experience both joy and then sadness and the love Jake finds and then loses along the way to the nailbiting showdown. And in truth this story is as much a love story as anything else – a love for both humanity and a period now lost to the history books.

The past is obdurate – it is indeed and King reminds us of this several million squillion times.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that for something so weighty it contained very little padding -it’s a full and rounded story with characters that become real to the reader which is something King has always had the ability to do. With Stephen King we don’t so much as read his books as live through them.  Quite often I find King’s endings weak but that is not the case here and the final line brings both a smile to the lips and a warm feeling to the heart.
An excellent adventure.


Davieboy said...

Thanks for that review. I've read almost all of King's output but was wavering on this one - now it's next book on my list!

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Davieboy - I think you'll like this one. As well as the enthralling WHAT IF? storyline there's some great humorous sequences and some swipes at modern life. There's a particularly fun section where the hero explains to his ladyfriend that one day the US will have a black president. It seems she can get her head around all the other aspects of the future like mobile phones, the Internet but not a black president. The 1950's/1960's of this book really is a whole other world.

Steve said...

Although I enjoyed it I felt the whole middle section where he teaches school could have been tightened up. It didn't ring quite true. I was a teenager at the same time and found much of this section corny. The whole school talent show seemed silly.
Also his attention to detail seems pretty good but I found 2 mistakes. The Dallas Texans never became the Dallas Cowboys. And no student in 1961 would tell someone "you rock". That wasn't in use at for a couple decades yet.