Saturday, 11 March 2017

Book Review: Joyland by Stephen King

In the summer of 1973,  a student named Devin Jones takes a job at Joyland, a North Carolina amusement park. Shortly after his arrival, his girlfriend finishes their relationship and breaks his heart. In an attempt to forgot about the girl, he quickly becomes engrossed in an unsolved murder that happened in Joyland a number of years ago. He also meets a young woman and her dying child, and begins to learn a lot more than he first anticipated he would at Joyland.

"I'm not sure anybody ever gets completely over their first love, and that still rankles. Part of me still wants to know what was wrong with me. What I was lacking. I'm in my sixties now, my hair is gray and I'm a prostate cancer survivor, but I still want to know why I wasn't good enough for Wendy Keegan."

I've been on such a great run recently with King books, and this one was no exception. From the very first page, I was drawn in and constantly writing down quotes in my little notebook. It literally felt like this book was speaking to me personally. The sense of nostalgia and the loss of your first love is overpowering. It's a sweet look back on the heartache and self-doubt that comes with such a loss.

The plot itself at Joyland was possibly a tad predictable at times, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. The characters themselves were some of the most likeable King has ever written - Devin himself, Annie and Mike. I wanted to spend more time with them, but I also feel like a lot of the charm of this book is in the fact that's it's relatively short and sweet. Devin is a good man, sweet, dependable, reliable. Wendy Keegan is a goddamn fool for breaking up with him! You can tell from the very beginning that he is just a lovely guy, and his relationship with both Annie and Mike is a perfect example of this.

This is a great book to suggest to people who are possibly interested in reading King, but don't like horror. It's a murder mystery essentially, with a teeny tiny bit of horror. This feels like King at his best, you can almost imagine yourself being in Joyland with Devin that year. He creates a world for you and then invites you to step into it and immerse yourself in it.

My only complaint really is how predictable the story felt at times, and given that I just don't think it's on the same level as my more recent reads, I'm going to deduct a star and give it 4 stars out of 5! A quick, fun read. As my friend Sadie says, it would be perfect to read this in the summer.


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