Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

11/22/63

Along with Something Wicked This Way Comes,  used my break to read Stephen King’s historical time travel thriller 11/22/63.

It’s the story of high school English teacher Jake Epping, alias George Amberson, who travels back in time to try and prevent the JFK assassination. Jake’s friend Al, who runs a diner, discovers that his storage room leads to September 9, 1958. If Jake goes back to 1958 and stays for 5 years, he can prevent the assassination and, Al believes, change history for the better.

Jake embarks on this assignment and learns that you should not mess with history. When you try to meddle in the past, the past resists. Always.

really enjoyed 11/22/63. I like history and, as a Doctor Who fan, I’ve always enjoyed pondering questions about time travel. Don’t get me started on Doctor Who. Or time travel. Thinking about alternate timelines and ways that the world could be changed or messed with is really fun for me. And also confusing. Like I said, I blame Doctor Who.

Anyway, 11/22/63 combined many of the things I really loved. Also, King is a great writer. I learned that from reading The Shining. But 11/22/63 is in a class by itself. King is definitely the master of horror, but he proved with this that he can also write a thriller. A historical thriller. One that is meticulously researched.

One of the things that really sold this book for me was how well King sold the time period. He captured the dialogue and the mentality really well. I was impressed. The world really was different back then, and I know that King spent years researching not only the historical facts of the time period (and the assassination), but also the vernacular and the cultural and social setting of the time. He had to bring this era to life. The past literally came to life and his character had to try to learn how to operate in it, the same way expats have to learn how to live and function in a foreign country. King could have ignored this and focused on the whole, “I’m in the past and I have to stop Lee Harvey Oswald.” But instead, he let us watch as Epping learned to live in a new world. He brought that world, the past, alive for readers. King essentially did what fantasy and science fiction writers do all the the time – he created a world for his characters and readers to live in. The difference is that this world was real at one point. So he had to be careful.

11/22/63 changed my perception of Stephen King. He’s not just a brilliant horror writer. He can also write other things. This book has love and intrigue and dancing. Lots of dancing. It felt so very different from the stereotypical Stephen King novel. And it still worked. I was alternately smiling, heartbroken, and terrified. There were parts of this novel that had me so completely freaked out that I couldn’t sleep. Just like when I read The Shining and had to stay up late because my book was too intense to sleep, one night I was up until 3:30 in the morning because things in the book were too tense and frightening for me to stop reading.

Not only can Stephen King scare the living hell out of me, but he can write a thriller that is far, far, far better than Dan Brown.

Rating: *****

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