My First Journey with Stephen King: ‘11.22.63’ – A Review

My First Journey with Stephen King: '11.22.63' - A Review

My husband is a huge fan of Stephen King – he tears through King’s thrillers the same way I tear through Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ romantic escapades. As a result, he has been tirelessly urging me to add a little more ‘King’ to my bookshelf, but with stories like ‘It’, ‘ Carrie’ and ‘The Shining’, I feared this scaredy-cat would never find a King novel tame enough to read. Upon the release of ‘11.22.63’, we finally found a compromise – less thrill, more history.

‘11.22.63’ is a counter-factual propositional story of the Kennedy assassination – exploring the idea that the world would be greatly improved or at least greatly changed had JFK survived Oswald’s assassin bullet. A young man, Jake Epping, is directed to a time-traversing ‘rabbit-hole’ of sorts by greasy-spoon chef, Al, and sent through with the direct mission of changing the world. And thus begins his journey into the cigarette smoke-filled, good old days of America in the 60s; a love-affair with someone born decades before himself; and his interaction with a mightily unhappy, unsatisfied, unstable and abusive Oswald.

‘We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.’

The journey through the story was exhilarating and emotional, and at times, frustrating – especially the ending. After 800+ pages full of – what I am assured is quintessential King twist-and-turns – the story ends neither happy nor sad, it just does. I found myself opening back of the book again and again to make sure I hadn’t missed something – which, sadly, I hadn’t.

King is a wonderful writer, with great structure and clarity, and clearly a very strong editing team. His story was innovation, well-researched and well-structured. But still, even with all this positive, I cannot sit here and honestly say, ‘I like Stephen King.’ Although I do not dislike him per say and did not loathe his story as I did this one, I also do not think I will ever be drawn to read one of his stories again.

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 3 {out of 5} stars | ★★★☆☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 1 {out of 5} stars | ★☆☆☆☆
RATING: 3 {out of 5} stars | ★★★☆☆