Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Author: Stephen King
Genre: Science Fiction Time Travel
Publisher: Scribner, November 2011

Stephen King is a big name, but one that I don't often read. I've only read one book by him before, and though I enjoyed it immensely, I can't remember what it was. That said, I heard great things about this book and decided to give it a go. I'm really glad that I did, as it's become my favorite time-travel novel and is just a fantastic book in general.

Jake Epping is the average joe that starts this novel out. An English teacher, and recently divorced, he doesn't have a whole lot going in his life, until he heads to his favorite local diner. The owner, who suddenly looks like he's in terrible health and has lost a number of years off his life, shows Jake into the back room, where he discovers an incredible secret: the back of the restaurant lets you travel back in time to 1958. Sounds like a big reveal, right? Nah, that's the first 25 pages or so.

This book was a long one, as the main goal of Jake eventually becomes going back in time time 1958 and living there until 1963, where he will attempt to save JFK from being assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.

The book has a little bit of everything and does them all well. Love story? Check. Horror? Check. Sci-Fi? Check. You even get cameos by other King characters from his other well-loved works.

The love story was really what sealed this book for me. I will be reading this one again in a few years as a study in how to write long fiction, and I'm fairly certain that I'll enjoy it just as much the next time around. Unlike Reamde by Neal Stephenson, which I got halfway through and put down, this book kept me interested in the fate of the main character throughout, and even though there are some dull moments (it IS a book about history, of course), they were very well done and the suspense of "what happens next?" kept me going late into the night. I read this book like an obsession, and when I was finished I was sad to see it go, though my wife assures me that it's good to have me back.

What I loved

  • The love story was wonderful, and the ending very fitting. There may or may not have been man-tears in my totally manly eyes.
  • The secondary characters were very real, and it really helped strengthen the story.
  • The mystery of the Yellow Card Man was great.
What I hated

  • The book got a tiny bit slow in parts, especially as the character was waiting around for things to happen, and during his time teaching, but it wasn't so bad it took me out of the story.