11.22.63 – Stephen King

A couple of things kept me away from this book. One was the political theme – I’m not a fan of this kind of novels, and the other, the size of it. But then I don’t know why I complain about this last aspect, I always do and in the end I always read chunksters anyway. And enjoy them, too.

If you had the chance to change history, would you?

Starting from this question, a story is built. A man named Jake Epping is given the chance to go back in time to prevent the assassination of J. F. Kennedy. Is it possible? Will he succeed? Stepping back into the past, trying to familiarize himself with those times, from a simple thing as the right haircut to the spoken language characteristic of the 60’s, to the food and the people. He even manages to build a new life in the small town of Jodie, where he meets a woman, Sadie Dunhill, who makes his decision even harder to go through with. Racing against time, having to deal with some very unpleasant characters and make some big decisions, Jack is determined to stop the man who was supposed to kill Kennedy.

Having grown up in a very different culture (and quite a few years later), it was interesting to read about America in the 60’s. I especially liked the part where King described life in Jodie. There were many things I didn’t know about, like certain expressions, movies and songs, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read about the staged play of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, a book I loved, then “The Catcher in the Rye”, a book I couldn’t finish, and “Jude the Obscure”, a book I now want to read.

Before I started to read the book, I remember someone saying there’s no horror element to this story, one of the key ingredients that made me a fan of King’s work in the first place. There is however a touch of the unusual in the conversation Jake has with the Green Card Man – the “guardian” to the place where the present and the past converge – about strings and versions of the future and the damage that was done by repeated trips back and forth in time. That brought back memories of reading The Dark Tower books and even if I can’t recall exactly what made me think of it, other than beams (there has to be something about the beams supporting the Tower), I felt like the connection with the surreal has been accomplished.

I know if I’m enjoying a book by how connected I feel with the characters. Jake and Miz Mimi were the ones I liked the most – Jake, for his determination and courage to go through with his decision, and Miz Mimi for being a straight-forward person.
Oh, and I had to go to youtube and find Glenn Miller with a song called “In The Mood” – a song that is mentioned a few times in the book – it turned out I knew the song, just didn’t know its name or who the singer was.
The story felt complicated at times but like with most of King’s novels, once you’re in for the ride, you enjoy it to the end and this was no exception.

*Started in December, 2011 – finished in January, 2012

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13 Responses to 11.22.63 – Stephen King

  1. Jenners says:

    Oh … goodie. I’m so excited to read this. I just have to pick a time when I’m ready to keep reading past my bedtime!

  2. M-----l says:

    I’m not sure I agree with the person who said there wasn’t a horror element to this story. The horror is still there, but it’s not always the supernatural kind of horror we usually expect from Stephen King. Really, is there anything more horrific than the assassination of a political leader? In broad daylight? In front of crowds of waving and shouting people?

    Even if you don’t count that as horror, I still think there are aspects of the supernatural kind of horror in this book. Maybe I’m interpreting things differently, but I got the impression that both the ex-husband character and the guy who kills his family with the sledgehammer may have possibly been possessed. Mostly the sledgehammer guy, I guess. I think the ex-husband was probably just nuts. And then there’s all the creepy stuff in the IT town and the suggestion that the book depository was an evil place. Scary stuff, as far as I’m concerned.

    I noticed that the cover of your book doesn’t place as much emphasis on JFK as mine does. Do people even remember him where you live? I’ve had one of his campaign buttons hanging up in my kitchen for about 15 years, but I wonder how or if he’s remembered around the world.

    • Delia says:

      It’s all a matter of perception and interpretation. The horrific acts committed by those two crazy guys didn’t strike me as supernatural horror (although I can see why you would think that about the sledgehammer guy- the way King described that scene was gruesome to say the least); I saw their actions as pure evil – things like that happen in real life too, unfortunately, and it won’t be labelled as possession.
      I noticed the references to IT, that’s one of the things I like about King’s books, the way he connects his stories. It makes me feel like I’m on familiar territory.

      I’m not sure if the people here know much about Kennedy. The expat community knows – I was talking yesterday to a couple of American friends and asked them about JFK – they do remember him, of course, but that’s to be expected, it’s part of their own history. I wish I could elaborate more on the subject but at this point I simply can’t. I will, however, keep the idea in mind for future conversations.

  3. Aths says:

    The way you described this book makes me want to go read it asap! I’m not a fan of political books either, but I love books/stories/stuff that deals with the question of changing something in the past. I wonder how King tackled that question in this book – I will have to read it.

    • Delia says:

      That’s why I wanted to read the book as well, not for the political component but for the way he tells a story. King’s ability to tackle so many different subjects and turn them into amazing stories is what made me want to read so many of his books.
      If you read the book I’ll be curious to read your review.

  4. Vishy says:

    Wonderful review, Delia! I was looking forward to your review and I am glad you liked this book. It looks like Stephen King has written a novel which is very different from his regular ones. I am always daunted by the size of King’s novels, especially the recent ones, but I want to read this one. This sentence from your review made me think – “about strings and versions of the future and the damage that was done by repeated trips back and forth in time”. Is Stephen King talking about String Theory and Many Worlds Theory here? I am intrigued 🙂

    • Delia says:

      Hi Vishy,
      I know next to nothing of String Theory so I can’t really say…what King constantly referred to was the ‘butterfly effect’ and how trying to change a terrible thing that happened in the past may not be the best thing to do in the big scheme of things.
      ‘Intrigued’ is good – is that good enough to read the book? 🙂

  5. Kathleen says:

    I don’t want to let 2012 come to an end without me reading this book. I’m even more excited to read it after your review!

  6. Suko says:

    Yet another positive (and well-written) review of this book! This is a departure for Stephen King, but from what I can tell, it works. (And even though his books are long, once you start reading them the “pages fly by”. )

    • Delia says:

      Hello Suko,
      Have you read the book?
      I’m a fan of King’s books and this one did not disappoint. It was a challenge to carry that book around but definitely worth it.
      Thanks for your visit and for the comment.

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