*CAUTION: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
I KNOW! The book has been out for over 2 months now, and not only did I just finish the audiobook, but I am just getting around to writing a review. I know… better late than never. I had to wait until I finished it before I could read other reviews about the book, due to spoilers. So I have been handling my usual sites with kid gloves. That being as it is, I haven’t read any other reviews or listened to the most recent Castle Rock Podcast. I also didn’t want to be swayed by any other reviews I read prior to finishing the book.
Here’s a short synopsis of “11/22/63:”
Jake Epping is shown a wormhole into the past by a friend of his. Jake decides, that he can do some good, and uses the wormhole to drop him into 1958, a set point in time where the wormhole leads. He decides that he will live in this new time stream, temporarily, and will use his future knowledge of events to stop President John F. Kennedy from being assassinated. The tale twists and turns through the rescue of an entire family from, what should be, almost complete devastation at the hands of the family’s estranged father, the rescue of a girl from a hunting accident and Jake’s falling in love with a woman and getting caught up in her ex-husband’s dark delusions. On his way through this journey of time and tribulation, Jake learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed and is “fighting” against him and trying to make sure he doesn’t achieve his goals.
I spent some time on Tumblr and Twitter seeing what some of the major complaints with the book were, once I finished it, and I am surprised at the number one complaint. I am going to address that first, because it will probably surprise you as much as it did me. I saw a lot of people complaining that the book didn’t contain more stuff about JFK and the current events of the time stream. I will agree that the book did not contain a bunch of not-so-current events, but I didn’t have a problem with that. The majority of the book is spent documenting Jake’s journey through this new life that he has made for himself to get him from 1958 to the actual assassination on 11/22/63. A very small amount of time within this book is actually spent talking about Kennedy. You do learn quite a bit about Lee Harvey Oswald’s life leading up to the assassination, even if a little bit is filled in with speculation to drive facts home. That last sentance will actually make sense if you read this book. To the people that complained that King neglected the current events for that “when,” and focused too heavily on the character of Jake, I would like to say 2 things:
- King has always been about the journey of his characters, first and foremost
- I want you to say your complaint back to yourself and think about it for a minute. You’re complaining that a work of fiction, didn’t contain enough 50-year-old “current events.” Really…
I really enjoyed this book. Time travel seems like it is going to be tough to follow, but it’s far less wibbly-wobbly than you may think. There are a bunch of references to “IT” in this book, as well as the appearance of a Tacuro Spirit! For those of you that like reading King’s stories and trying to find those connections that lead you back into mid-world or King’s other stories, sorry I just ruined the Tacuro Spirit thing for you.
Jake’s story is compelling! He foils murders, and falls in love! What more could you want? That is what I want every book to be about. I also like to have trolls and goblins (a.k.a. badguys, not necessarily actual trolls and goblins) thrown into the mix to spice it up a bit. I really enjoyed Jake’s time spent in Derry, Maine in the aftermath of that crazy clown that went around killing children, and the telling of Harry Dunning’s story. Harry Dunning is one of Jake’s students from an adult learning/GED class that he taught before Jake set off for the past. As his final essay, Harry Dunning tells the tragic tale of how, on Halloween Night in 1958, his father came into the house unexpectedly and managed to murder his entire family (mother, sister and brothers) and severely maim him with a hammer. Once Jake travels to the past, he decides to right this wrong and save the family in question.
I am, by no means a literary critic, so don’t come down on me too hard for not using the words ethos and pathos (although I just did, so take that haters) or discussing canon and all that other pretentious junk. I don’t feel like the average person understands that anyway. Cutting to the chase, I really enjoyed this book. It was much better than most of King’s recent releases, not counting “Cell,” which I love more than death metal bands love unreadable fonts. Grab this up kiddies… It’s a great time! Assuming you’re not searching for not-so-current events.
I listened to the audiobook of “11/22/63,” and thought you might enjoy this sample reading from the book.[youtube http://youtu.be/_3ytnwIqn5M]
Posted by @alloy_matt
Related Story: A/V Round-Up: Stephen King’s “11/22/63”