Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review: 11/22/63

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Format: Audiobook
Reading Dates: July 14 - Sep 11, 2012
Rating: **** 1/2

It was May 1981. School had been out only a couple of days, but I had already left for the bustling metropolis of Hydro, Oklahoma, population a smidge under 1000 or about the size of the Psychology 1103 class I had just finished in Norman. My roommate that summer was Debra, an old schoolmate who had let me bunk at her house the summer before while we both worked at the local bank presidented by a mutual family friend and who had agreed to the same arrangements this particular summer.

The first summer we were together we shared a teeny-tiny house in Weatherford, but only a few weeks before I moved back to town, Debra had purchased a new mobile home right off the I-40 in Hydro and life was going to be good. We each had our own bedroom, a spacious living room, and a full kitchen. The week that I moved in, however, Debra was on vacation, so she left me a key, instructions about which bedroom was mine, and word that she would be back in a week.

The house was so new that she was still furnishing it and while it had a great couch and a working fridge, there was no TV yet, so I had to find something to entertain myself each evening after work. I decided, of course, to read. And my book of choice that week was The Shining by Stephen King. It was one of the stupidist things I ever decided to do. Each night I would read a few chapters, then lay the book on my chest for 30 minutes while I got up the nerve to turn off the reading lamp, get up off the couch, and make the ten-step beeline in the dark to my bedroom door. I was so petrified that I haven't read Stephen King since.

Until now.

I decided to give 11/22/63 a shot because it was getting really good press over on, and I'm glad I did. 11/22/63 is definitely a page-turner--scratch that--a drive-maker, because I would find myself taking the long way home just so I could listen a little longer. Stephen King writes stories that sound good out loud.

In the novel protaganist Jake Epping is introduced to a wormhole through time by Al Templeton, the owner of a local diner. The wormhole takes anyone who goes through it to Sept 9, 1958 and no matter how long they stay there, when they come back only 2 minutes have passed. Al convinces Jake that he should go through the wormhole and stay until 11/22/63 and prevent the Kennedy assassination. Al tells Jake that he tried to do it himself, but now has cancer and knew he would die before being able to complete the task, and so now he's asking Jake to take over.

Jake reluctantly agrees to do it after realizing that he might be able to change not only Kennedy's fate, but also that of others he knows who suffered tragedy during that same time, and so off he goes for a 5-year stint in the past.

But the past doesn't want to be changed.

This was a long book, and most of the sub-plots could have been novellas of their own, but the story kept my attention throughout and as I said above I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next or how King was going to bring all the time-travelling threads together in the end.

Kudos also to Craig Wasson, the narrator, whose myriad voices kept the audio entertaining and easy to follow. Ironically, I thought he sounded too old to be Jake, but all the other voices were spot on--even the Bill Clinton and Jimmy Stewart sound-alikes.

I'm taking away a half star for the length which I think could have been pared down a bit with no real impact to the story, but this is a rip-roaring yarn that left me in tears at the end. Highly recommended!

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