Sunday, 8 January 2012

52/111 - 11.22.63 by Stephen King

Naturally, I had to buy this book, the new Stephen King, on the day it came out, and yet it's taken me all this time to finish it!

Since he releases a book a year (on average) and I (usually) read much quicker than that, and have read pretty much everything of his, my intention was to savour the book as much as I could and only read it at times when I was truly relaxed and wanting to read. As a result, it took me quite a while. I must have read around half in a few weeks, and then in the space of a few days I picked up the momentum and blasted through the rest.

It was good, and I liked it. 

The story is set in the present day, and the main character Jake is introduced to a time portal back to 1958 in the diner of his friend Al. Al wants Jake to complete the work he tried to undertake and go back into the past to prevent the assassination of JFK, since Al is now dying of cancer, and the rest of the novel follows Jake's journey back into the past and the results of the changes he tries to make. All round, I have nothing bad to say about it. I liked that one of the first things Jake does is to take a trip to Derry to try and make a relatively small change, and when he does so, he meets Richie and Beverley, two of the kids from It, so there was a nice harmony there. Harmony is one of the recurring ideas in the book; the way things mirror and complement each other, and trying to decipher the meaning of such things. In addition, I also liked that Stephen King had once more added another link between stories in hi universe.

I don't have an awful lot left to say about this at the moment, save the fact that I liked it. It was a strange work, as I expected it to be a little more supernatural in flavour, or to have one of his classic psychotic bad guys, like in Desperation or Under the Dome, but since this was based on a historical event, I guess he couldn't take too many liberties. 

In his new life, Jake settles in Texas and begins living a double life as a school teacher and as an observer of Lee Oswald, future presidential assassin. During his time as a teacher, he meets and falls in love with Sadie, and in spite of all their efforts, things don't quite turn out the way they'd intended.

Eventually, Jake discovers that when he goes back to the future to see the fruits of his efforts, the future he has created by preventing the assassination of JFK is much worse than the future he came from. Any changes that he made have caused reality itself to become unstable, and ultimately he decides that he must undo everything, even though it means he'll never be able to spend his life with the woman he fell in love with in the past.

It seems strange to me to choose the assassination of JFK as such a pivotal moment in history, because it's naturally out of my time frame. Since that time, there have been a huge number of significant events, one of the most vivid of course being 9/11, however I think the assassination of JFK makes for a much better story, namely because of the era. Some of my favourite Stephen King stories, and one of the things I like most about him is his ability to create a sense of time, and I feel he puts this to best use when he's writing about the past. I love reading all the little quirky pop culture references and turns of phrase, and when he writes in the present day, it doesn't seem quite as potent, so going back into the 50s and 60s was great.

Can't wait for the next Dark Tower book in April...

Next: Demo 2 by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan

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