11/22/63 by Stephen King – Book Review [djinn24]

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djinn24 brings something a bit different to the plate for The Founding Fields, a review of Stephen Kings newest book, 11/22/63, an alternate history book about preventing the JFK assassination and changing history as we know it.

The master of horror brings us a thrilling book about a story we think we already know ~ The Founding Fields

Jake Epping is a recently divorced teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, having an ordinary night grading papers for his adult GED class that he has picked up for some extra money.  The assignment is “A Day that Changed Your Life” and everything is seemingly normal until he comes to the school janitor, Harry Dunning, whose paper who describes how on Halloween 1958 his father came in a drunken stupor and murdered everyone in his family with a hammer.  Jake, a man who is normally emotionally neutral is deeply effected by the story. After the GED graduation Jake takes Harry for a Fat Burger at Al Templeton’s burger joint and they become friends. Little did Jake know, this story would change his life.

It is now the last day of school in 2011 Al calls Jake out of the blue and asks him to come to the burger joint as quickly as possible.  Upon arriving Jake finds Al dying of lung cancer even though just the day before he had been healthy, and this is where the story begins.  Al goes on to explain that he has found a time slip that takes that back to Lisbon Falls as it was on September 9th, 1958 at 11:58am.  Jake does not believe him until Al takes him downstairs and sends Jake back to go have a root beer and see for himself.  Jake is skeptical at first until his foot steps on a stair that is really not there and walks up into the past.  Before leaving Al tells him of the Yellow Card Man, who is always there, waiting.  The one oddity in a land of constants.  When he Jake returns, two minutes after he leaves (it is always only two minutes later) from that initial trip Al goes on to explain what he was trying to do back in time.  Save the life of JFK! Al believe that by saving him he might stop Vietnam from starting, saving millions of lives. Against his better judgement he decides to go back and see what he can do. In his second trip he adopts the alias of George Amberson, and sets up residence in Derry, Maine and follows Harry’s father around trying to figure out what to do to fulfill his vow to save Harry Dunning’s family. He almost succeeds in saving them all, but the oldest still dies.

When he returns, Jake tracks down Harry’s sister and calls her.  He discovers that Harry was drafted and dies in Vietnam. Jake does not want to go back for a third time, and plans to tell Al the next morning, but upon returning to the house, he finds Al dead from an overdose, the pain of the cancer too much for him. Against his better judgement Jake goes back to do it all over and this time, save JFK and try to save Harry.  What is in store as a man, who is from 2011 has to live for five years during the 1950s and 1960s? If he is able to save JFK, what is he going to return to find?

This is the latest Stephen King novel published November 8th, 2011 weighs in at 849 pages is not a light read but this is a page turner after you get past the somewhat slow beginning of the book. King is primarily known as a superb horror author but his slant on alternate history is exciting and just as great as any of his previous books. King originally tried writing this book back in the 70s but abandoned the project after 20 or so pages, feeling it was still too soon to write a novel about JFK.  As typical of a King novel he develops the characters in a manner that you truly grow attached to them, almost as if you are bonded to them.  The plot goes nice and steady, keeping you want to read the next page and chapter, something amazing for a book of this length.  I found the draggy parts to be very few and far between, keeping everything flowing nicely.  I did find it odd reading an alternate history books from a guy who is known as the king of horror, but the fact that is was not a horror book does not detract from his superb writing style.  He keeps you enthralled, making it until you have to pass out with the book in your hard.  I had many a late night in bed reading this book, with the “one more page” syndrome until I would just pass out reading.

I am primarily a sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery buff but this book easily appealed to me as a reader, I am not sure that King could write a bad book, maybe bad for him, but not in general compared to other authors.  Anyone who enjoys a good solid book and wants to invest some time into it, this is the book for you.  If you are a fan of Stephen King, then it is a no brainer that you will enjoy this book as it is classic King in everything but the scare you damn pants off of you. The only bad thing about this book is it is somewhat easy to guess the ending, it pretty much lays it out on the cover what eventually happens. It is kind of like the a story about the Titanic, you know it sinks at the end, it is the story between the beginning to the end that makes you like the book.  Overall I give this book a 9.5/10 when compared to your typical books out there, and a 8.0/10 when compared to other books within the King library or other authors who are as well written as king.  The book is still in hardcover, so it is $25.00, but I would say it is worth it for the money.  It would be a great book to curl up on the couch and read during the snowy days of winter.

As a warning, there are scenes of graphic sex and violence in this book.  Reader discretion is advised.

djinn24 is a professional miniatures painter, with an equally strong love of books. His reviews are concise and critical. He’s definitely good at what he does.

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