Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King **** 849 pages Scribner

I admit when King first went on the Today show to promote his latest weight set style novel I thought it sounded a little silly. I had time on my hands and this was at the library so I decided to give it a shot. I am coming off disappointing turns with Duma Key and Lisey’s Story which I thought were awful. I did however still like Cell and thought Full Dark, No Stars was fantastic. It is not often that I read a 900 pager that I don’t think could stand to lose a little of the meat off it’s bones.

11/22/63 has been promoted as King’s novel about the Kennedy assassination, and Time Travel. It certainly is about that stuff, conspiracy theorists will be bummed that King basically agrees with the standard narrative- Oswald the lone gunman. I enjoyed this novel, Think it is one of the better ones King has written in some time. (I think Cell and Bag of bones are his best this century) The Oswald/Kennedy stuff however was the least interesting part to me. The love story which is the real core of the novel and the moral dilemma of what is really of value in one’s life is what makes this novel really pop.

Sure there are time travel elements that make you think and laugh. Sure there are lots of political issues that King raises when exploring how America might be different if history changed. All interesting stuff, but the best parts involve the love story between our time traveling hero Jake Epping and the love of his life Sadie Dunning. This is his best romance and at several points in the novel he actually made me teary eyed. It is funny because I have seen reviews where this aspect of the novel were considered a part of a sagging boring middle. Really?

Keep in mind there are really three novels here. King spends two hundred and fifty pages just showing us how hard it is to change the future. Could that have been done quicker, sure but I didn’t really mind.

I am not sure if I didn’t have so much free time when I read this if I would have read it in a week. I am also not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I read it slower. This is in the end a power time travel story about love. I understand why it was marketed about JFK but it has more in common with Matheson’s Somewhere in Time than Stone’s JFK.

Read it for the love story.

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