Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: 11.22.63

I have a confession to make: Stephen King is my guilty pleasure. I discovered him in middle school, and ever since then I haven't been able to go a year without devouring a few of his novels. I know that some of them are flops, and there was a period of time in which he seemed to get a little lazy in his writing, but I've been enjoying his more recent efforts enough to buy a copy of his newest novel: 11.22.63.

I guess one of the reasons I like Stephen King so much is that he writes easy entertaining books, but he writes them well. He has a way of describing certain things, of throwing these sentences into the story with a wording that you've never thought of before, but can never find a more perfect way to phrase that sentiment from then on. It betrays an intellect that I admire (however "low brow" you might find his novels) and lets me become absorbed in his books without being distracted by bad writing (Dan Brown I loved your idea in the Da Vinci Code and it was the only thing that kept me through, but my god take a writing class). Another thing about him is that he always keeps you on your toes. Some authors are dark and brooding, so you know the book will end in horrible tragedy for everyone involved. Others are incredible softies so you know the main character will find a way to pull through in the end. With Stephen King you never know what he'll do. Sometimes he'll kill the guy, other times he'll save them, other times everyone dies but one, other times he tells you someone's gonna get it but you don't know who until the end. It's the fluidity in his style that keeps you glued to the pages, never giving you the security of what to expect.

Stephen King seems to have moved away from the pure horror category he became famous for, and 11.22.63 is another example of this. The premise is this: there are certain moments that redefine the course of history, and one of them was undeniably the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. If you could go back in time and change it, would you? What would happen, and what would be the consequences?

I don't want to give away the book, but I will say that although I enjoyed it, I didn't enjoy it for the reasons I thought I would. I thought I would be wowed by the creativity of the aftermath, instead the book really takes a different tone than I thought it would. Nevertheless you can see that the research he put into it was remarkable, and he managed to capture the feel of a stranger in a strange time as best as I could expect. I enjoyed Under the Dome more in that it was more suspenseful, but I found 11.22.63 to be a pleasant, definitely more PG Stephen King. I was not up until the early morning glued to the pages, but there's nothing about it that I can say I didn't like.

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