Sunday, 26 November 2017

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

A school teacher, Jake Epping, travels back in time through a portal with the aim of preventing the assassination of JFK, often considered to be a huge watershed moment in American history. But first, he must create a life for himself in the years leading up to the assassination as he has some research to do. In doing so, he stumbles upon the town of Jodie and a beautiful librarian named Sadie Dunhill...

"We did not ask for this room or this music. We were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces to the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. We have been given pain to be astounded by joy. We have been given life to deny death. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance."

Let me preface this review by saying... prepare for a LOT of fangirling. When I first read this book it blew me away, and on my reread, it had the exact same effect. I would go so far as to say that this is one of the best books I've ever read. Usually I can find faults within all of King's works, but I'm sitting here trying to think of something I didn't like about this book and I've got nothing. Zilch. Nada. On my first read I sometimes felt a bit bored by the JFK plot, but I think that was because I was so impatient to get back to Jake's life and relationship with Sadie. Now on my reread, I already knew what was coming - the same urgency wasn't there - so I was able to appreciate that storyline a bit more and it's actually really piqued an interest in learning more about this moment in American history. Sooo...this time around, I ain't got any complaints.

King's writing is beautiful in this book. He evokes such a range of emotions in these pages, one minute I was laughing, the next I was crying. He makes me nostalgic for a time period and a country I didn't even live in! THAT in itself is a skill (Lana Del Rey also does this for me). A root beer never ever appealed to me until I read this book. His, or rather Jake's, reflections on life just really resonated with me, life CAN turn on a dime and this book is a constant reminder to just enjoy what you have when you have it - because who knows what is around the corner?

11/22/63 also stars two of my all-time favourite King characters - Jake and Sadie. I fell in love with Sadie as Jake did. Sadie is brave, headstrong, resilient, and given her past, her outlook on life is inspiring. As for Jake, some of the decisions he makes (without giving away any spoilers) proves that he is simply a good man. To take on such an arduous task, spanning years of your life, is admirable. And with these two amazing characters, King writes his greatest love story. It is beautiful and heartfelt and REAL. It shook me to my core. 

If anyone ever tries to tell you that King can only write horror, slam this book in their face! Although that's not to say that there aren't moments of horror... the events that occur in the Dunning household are truly terrifying, with some of the most graphic and unforgettable descriptions King has ever written. Credit must also be given to the ridiculous amount of research that must have gone into this book. The attention to detail is staggering - I personally cannot say how much of it is accurate as I don't know much about the JFK assassination - but I'm guessing King left no stone unturned. 

What's great about 11/22/63 is that you don't need to be a fan of King or of horror in order to fall in love with this book. I'm actually trying to convince my mum to read it as I think she'd love it, but she remains stubborn - I WILL break her!! On a final note, I'm intrigued as to what King's initial ending was - he says in the afternotes that Joe came up with a better ending than the one he had planned. I wonder if it would have left me so dehydrated....

11/22/63 remains my second favourite King book, BUT it is the best King has written, in my opinion. Does that make sense? It does to me. This book gets ALL THE STARS. Truly incredible.


1 comment :

  1. I want to get this one soon! I'm super excited about this one and I've heard this one has some interesting plots on philosophy and time traveling. So glad to see that this one is such a huge favorite for you!


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