Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review - 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1451627282
849 pages


     For those of you who don’t already know this, I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King’s work. However, I don’t normally read a lot of horror, don’t really enjoy being frightened out of my wits, and would much rather spend my time reading Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Poetry instead. But, there is always something compelling and interesting about every work by this grand master of dark fiction and I seek out and buy his new books whenever they are released. A few stand out to me as some of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. The Stand, Under the Dome, and the Dark Tower series for instance, will always be some of the most enjoyable reading I’ve ever done. But 11/22/63 stands alone among all of Stephen King’s other works. Yes, it is as interesting and persuasive as anything he’s ever written. Yes, he is the “everyman” of modern writers and proves it every time he sits down at his typewriter, including this time. Yes, he knows his audience and writes accordingly. But the assassination of John F. Kennedy still tugs at the hearts and minds of those who lived through those unhappy times, 11/22/63 even more so. King does not tell us what was lost on that fateful day in Dallas. He deftly, heartbreakingly shows us in infinite detail. The twists and turns found in this unique time-travel tale about the prevention of the assassination of JFK made my head spin, but in a good way. The consequences of time travel are clearly spelled out in King’s alternate universe and the myriad of possible time-lines and “what-ifs” are indelibly written. What if you could travel to the past, stay as long as you wanted, and upon your return find that only two minutes had passed? What would you do with all that time? What would you do if you traveled to the past and found out that you had somehow become the world’s worst enemy? Or that you had sufficiently changed the course of time to cause a near-extinction event?

     The protagonist, Jacob "Jake" Epping, a recently-divorced high school English teacher, continues down the time-stream handed to him by a dying time traveler and attempts to prevent JFK’s murder. But the machinations of time are not easily deceived and the past has a few surprises in store for anyone arrogant enough to try and change it. Some might even say, “Be careful what you wish for!” Yet, King maneuvers through this mine-field of twisting time-lines as deftly as any writer who has ever attempted to manipulate the past and the various sub-plots and side-stories are perfect accompaniments to the story itself. We learn early on that changing the past, even in small increments, has significant consequences. So, what do you imagine an enormous change to the past might do? Don’t worry; Stephen King has already done that for you…

     I won’t give away any of the surprises found in 11/22/63 but I will tell you that there are at least a dozen “wow” moments (and I mean WOW!) in this story and it is well worth the price of admission. You’ll be changed by this book and you’ll be filled with emotion. You will come away with your thoughts provoked and your feelings stirred. You will contemplate the seriousness of the story and you will be moved. You can’t help but be.

     11/22/63 is best suited for history buffs, time travel fans, and every other human on the planet. It’s that good, folks, an instant classic, in my estimation, and I recommend it to readers of every genre imaginable, and even some unimaginable.

     M-O-O-N that spells masterpiece!

6 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

Stephen King Website

Stephen 11/22/63 Page

11/22/63 Wiki Page

NY Times Review

Bangor Daily News Review

11/22/63 The Movie?

No comments: