Book Review: The Shining


Title: The Shining

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Horror

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve seen the movie (both versions). But I wanted to read the book before reading the sequel that King recently published, Doctor Sleep. I had a feeling that there had been significant changes between the original book and the movie versions, and boy, I was right. I’m glad I took the time to delve into this Stephen King classic.

The first thing I noticed was the differences in endings. I can certainly understand some aspects (hedge animals) which would have been difficult to do well at the time the first movie was made. And you have to love a line like “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” But I really liked the expansion of Dick Hallorman’s character and his tribulations in trying to rescue a young boy with special powers. I also seem to recall parts of both movie versions which dragged. That was never a problem in the book–it grips you and holds on tight from beginning to end. Things deteriorate a lot faster in the book as well, at least they seem to.

While some of Stephen King’s books have endings which seem to utilize a Deux Ex Machina, this one does not. Every character strives until the very end, including Jack. And the hotel. I liked the concept of having a building or location as the nemesis, trying to draw power to itself and hold on tight.

What is also different about this particular book is that you actually feel sorry for the person who is supposedly the villain, Jack. He struggles with his temper and his alcoholism throughout the book. Is it his fault that the hotel is stronger than him? The true enemy is the hotel, created by nearly a hundred years of evil done within the structure by all sorts of baddies, many of whom died there.

There are a few themes that are overdone in the book–I’ve noticed this trend with Stephen King before. Wasps. Wasps. No really, I got it. Wasps. I don’t know how many time wasps are mentioned, but it’s way more than I needed. Clocks too, but I liked the cuckoo clock enough that I didn’t mind it.

I could try to take apart the book and look for ways in which the writer grew or changed, but to be honest, I don’t think I’d find a lot. King has a very definite style, and you either like it or you don’t like it. I like it.

I’ll be continuing to move through my virtual big stack of King’s books.

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