Cover art: Lisa Litwack
Cover photo: Gavin R. Wilson / Photonica
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publishing date: January 1977
On the cover:
The Overlook Hotel is more than just a home-away-from-home for the Torrance family. For Jack, Wendy, and their young son, Danny, it is a place where past horrors come to life. And where those gifted with the shining do battle with the darkest evils.
This is the first time I've read a book where I've seen the movie it is based on several times. And since several people not only think it's a good adaption, but some even say the movie is better than the book, I was curious as to how this would affect my reading of it.
I guess most people interested in Horror would have seen Kubrick's movie adaption of it, and is therefore familiar with the story. However if you have not seen the movie, be warned that the introduction in the book contains spoilers and if you're new to the story should be skipped. This spoiler-filled introduction annoyed me, I saw no reason for it to be at the start of the book. I think they should move it to the end of the book and call it "Author's note".
Right from the start King takes us inside the mind of his main character, Jack Torrance, and by doing so he sets the atmosphere for the book. King also handles the back story of the characters in a way that adds a great deal to the later tension of the book.
Everything that is added of history, back story, and what we get to know about the characters serve the story. Although the book is rather long, it didn't feel like it to me. The story moves along nicely, and there is not much that slows it down.
King is very good at keeping the reader guessing at what is actually going on. And he keeps throwing in elements that points in different directions. This only adds to the creepy atmosphere and I think it adds a lot to the book. The level of suspense also builds as the story progresses, drawing the reader in and making the book hard to put down.
The paranormal elements in this book are very well handled by King. They seem realistic and believable. Nothing seems to be added without it having a place in the story. The whole concept works very well and this is in my opinion one of Kings best books.
Back to where I started this review, with the book vs the movie. I didn't feel that being familiar with the movie took much away from the book, they are too different for that. many elements are of course the same, but the book is a wholly different experience on many levels. I would suggest that anyone who has seen the movie to pick up the book. I don't think you'll be sorry you did.
As for the movie being better than the book; not in my opinion.
Links: Stephen king Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books)