This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

16 December, 2011

REVIEW: 11.22.63

Cover photo: Press Association Images


ISBN: 978-1-444-72729-6
Pages: 740
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published:  8 November 2011

On the cover:

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching in an adult education programme. One day, he receives an essay from one of his students - a harrowing first person story about the night, fifty years earlier, when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed Harry's mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer.

Later, Jake's friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges an extraordinary secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane - and insanely possible - mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
Inspired by his desire to put things right for Harry Dunning, Jake leaves a world if iPods and mobile phones for a new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars, root beers and Lindy Hopping. It is a haunting world of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

   A new Stephen King novel is always a treat for me, and I had been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it. King tackling time-travel sounded especially interesting. 
   King manages to tackle the time travel very well, he's not exactly doing it in a Hard SF way and this may disappoint science fiction fans. But I thought the idea of how the world was affected by it in the small scale was very well done. I also liked what happened when a subsequent travel takes place. (Sorry for being vague, but I feel it is too much a spoiler to be more specific.)

   The book starts out as a pretty traditional style time travel novel. And it continues in that way for a while, but then King changes tracks. Jake Epping is staying for a long time in the past, and the book becomes much more about how America was in the late fifties and early sixties. Something King has written about before, and something he is very good at. There's even room for an excursion to post-IT, something I, and I'm sure any other fan of IT will enjoy. From there the novel moves from King's "comfort zone" in New England and into the south, and it is here that the main part of the story takes place.

   The historical part of this novel centres around Lee Harvey Oswald, and we really learn a lot about the man. I found this part of the novel fascinating, although at times it seems that King is using a lot of space to paint Oswald as a villain. The events he describes may be historically correct, but I didn't really feel they added enough to the story that so much of it had to be included.
   The most interesting part to me, is the part of the story were we see Jake Epping settling into his new life in the past. King handles this expertly, even the romance he has found place for is very well done and feels realistic.

   This is by no means King's best novel, and I doubt it will make it into many peoples top five King novels, but that doesn't mean it is a weak novel. I thoroughly enjoyed following Jake Epping on his journey in the past, and there is enough action and suspense here to make it a book that seems a quicker read than its page count suggests it is. 
   You don't have to be a King completist to enjoy this, it is a great novel for anyone who likes King. And for anyone with an interest in the JFK assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald this is a must. It's not a bad starting point for anyone who hasn't read King either, there's not any SFF here except for the time travel, so anyone not familiar with SFF should be able to get into it easily.
   With the holidays coming up, this is a great book to put on your wish list and read while you wait for the New Year to come around.

Reviews: The Shining, Bag of Bones, Four Past Midnight

Links: Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton

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