Book Review: 11/22/63, by Stephen King


Book: 11/22/63

Author: Stephen King

Genre: ?? Horror? Science Fiction? It’s a time travel novel.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Amazing book. No, really. I admit that I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s books in general, but I recognize that his endings aren’t always perfect. He’s great at setting up situations, but sometimes he writes himself into a corner and has to come up with some rather outlandish ways to solve things. (Under the Dome is a good example.)

Not so in this book. The ending was perfect, a logical outcome of all the points presented earlier in the plot.

This a time travel novel. The setup is relatively simple–a man finds a portal to 1958 and decides to go back and stop the Kennedy assassinations, in the hope that it will stave off countless unneeded deaths from the Vietnam War. There, things get complicated. The past is like a living thing, fighting back, inevitably trying to kill or at least incapacitate the intruder. It was this sense of danger, this unseen opponent, which really gave the book life.

Now I do have a few nits. I think King WAY overused the word “obdurate”. The past is obdurate. I got it the first time, and didn’t need it repeated fifty odd times. I wasn’t as bothered by the harmonizing and the Jimla because at those were themes that were expanded on, shaping over the course of the novel. But the ‘obdurate’ got old fast.

Plot-wise, this was very well done. Each element played a part and fit together very nicely. There were several peaks in tension and action, so while this is a monster-sized book, it didn’t read like one. I wasn’t sure how King would pull off the five whole years it would take to get to the real climax, but he did so in a way that carried the reader along from valley to peak, over and over, ever rising. Best of all, I felt satisfied by the ending.

King notes at the end all the research that went into the writing of this book, and it shows, but never in a way that slows down the action. Having missed the fifties and sixties (and been a little kid for the seventies) I do have to wonder how root beer tasted and burgers–I imagine they tasted something like hamburgers in Germany when I was there in the eighties as an exchange student. REAL meat with no preservatives and no concerns about using animal fat. King has also written about how his ultimate goal is to tell the truth in each of his books. I think he does here.

So for those who would like to step through the looking glass and take a nostalgic but also brutally honest look at the past, I heartily recommend this book.

Just don’t mess with time travel. It never ends well.

(and a shameless plug here–I hate plagiarism. We writers work hard to create new and original works. So I encourage everyone to use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because I would hate to see clones of glittery vampires or bow-wielding hungry heroines taking over the world. No really. )

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