Wednesday, October 17, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King


11/22/63 by Stephen King
Copyright 2012
Gallery Books - Fiction/Time Travel
849 pages

I need to get going on reviews and 11/22/63 is the freshest in my mind, so I'm just going to start there and work hard at emptying that messy sidebar.

Everyone surely knows what 11/22/63 is about, right?  If not, the short version is, "Guy who is dying recruits high school English teacher to finish the job he is unable to complete: Save Kennedy from assassination by traveling through a time portal that leads to a specific date in 1958."  Upon every return to the past, history is reset and anything the time traveler has accomplished is undone.  When the time traveler returns to the present, a mere 2 seconds have passed -- regardless of how long he spent in the past.

My thoughts: 

I'm not as thrilled with 11/22/63 as most people.  I enjoyed it but I thought it dragged a bit and I can't say I was in love with either Jake or the love of his life, Sadie.  Stephen King lived through this time in history and I've been told it's spot on, as far as lingo.  But, I was a little bemused by the amount of swearing.  Would Sadie not have called him on his frequent use of the F-word?  I didn't think it was so common back then.  That was my only real complaint, though, apart from what I considered pointless love scenes.  There was never a time that I felt like giving up on the book, so it must have been compelling enough.  I really only loved the last 150 pages or so, but you really have to read the entire book to get to the exciting part and make sense of it.

The bottom line:

Liked it; didn't love it.  Good storytelling, a bit too detailed for me in some regards but with an incredibly exciting ending.  Since I never felt all that much love for the two characters in the romantic subplot, what may be an emotional ending to a lot of people just didn't resonate with me.  There were definitely things I related to and enjoyed; I love time travel and I thought King's unique spin on the butterfly effect and the "rabbit hole" (time portal) was creative and plausible.  I did think he tried a little too hard to be clever with word play and sometimes that got on my nerves.


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20 comments:

  1. It is the only Stephen King book that I've read, and I loved it - but then I have a huge weakness for all things time travel. :)

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    1. So do I, Alyce, and I definitely loved the time travel aspect. But, Jack Finney is still my favorite.

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    2. Oh, Nancy, it's Jack Finney for me, too! I didn't love this book, though it kept me going and I ended up giving it a rating of 9 out of 10. But it annoyed me no end. My review of 11/22/63 refers to Jack Finney, if you are interested: http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2012/01/portal-to-past-112263-by-stephen-king.html

      Alyce, I was most intrigued by Stephen King's portal to the past, which was different from other time travel books I've read. A list was published in an article (linked in my review) making King's portal one of five different ways to get into the past. I added a sixth, to include Jack Finney's methodin Time and Again, which is still my favorite time travel book.

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    3. I gave it a 3/5 at Goodreads, Bonnie. It wasn't just a case of not loving it. I felt like it was a slog. I did love the ending, though.

      We're in agreement about the "portal to the past". That's one thing I love about time travel, the way everyone approaches it in a different manner and each author has his or her own idea of what might be a paradox, how changing the past could or would effect the present, etc.

      As to Finney . . . I like his short stories best (About Time is my favorite book) but I did love Time and Again. I love Finney so much that I've read absolutely everything I can get my hands on by the man.

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  2. I have been so curious about this one! I bought the audiobook but haven't started it yet b/c I've had trouble getting thru King in the past. Hopefully the audio version will be the solution!

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    1. I've only read a couple of his books and enjoyed them very much, but this one was just a bit too wordy for me. I hope I'll like Under the Dome better! Hope the audio works for you!

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  3. I listened to this and I was hooked from the very beginning.

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    1. I've heard a lot of gushing about the audio, but then . . . most people really love 11/22/63. I got bored with it about halfway through and stopped to read a couple other books. But, I did enjoy it -- just not as much as I'd hoped.

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    2. I gushed over the audio. I even used that F-word in my description. :-D

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    3. LOL I know you did, Jill! I remember your gushy review. I was hoping I'd love it as much as you did. Oh, well. I did think the ending was gripping and perfect but I didn't love it.

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  4. I'm afraid I'm going to side with you in the 'like it, didn't love it' department. Of course, this is the most I can see about Stephen King in the first place. Sometimes, he just uses too much profanity (what, am I still in high school that you need to talk to me like that?) and sometimes he uses too much evil (can't you keep Satan where he belongs? Deep down and far away?). So, I'll be intrigued to try this tome.

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    1. Bellezza,

      When I was halfway through 11/22/63 and put it aside to read a couple short books for a mental break, I went to Goodreads to see if I was the only person on the planet who wasn't finding the book thrilling. Nope. I'm rare, but that's okay. Being the odd man out in my opinion of popular titles is not unusual! I haven't read many Stephen King books but I do avoid darker books. I prefer uplifting to dark, most of the time. Evil tends to really upset me. There's not really any evil in 11/22/63 -- a hint of darkness with the "Jimla" but it's nothing close to horror.

      I'll be interested to see what you think of it! And, yep, I totally agree with you on the profanity. It just wasn't necessary and it didn't feel appropriate to the time period, in many cases.

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  5. Yeah, I realized how wordy King is when I read (tried to read) IT recently. It SO did not work for me, though surely part of that is my mood + brain drain. Maybe one day.

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    1. Andiloo, I think it's a rare chunkster that really *needs* to be long and Mr. King has just reinforced that for us, lately. I will go ahead and read Under the Dome, eventually, but probably will not buy another thick one by King EVER. If/when I read him in the future, I'll stick with smaller books. I hope The Shining isn't very thick. I do want to join in on the Shine-along, just for fun.

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  6. I have this one on audio, and have heard so many great things about it, but the length scares me, and I am sure that I would never have the time to finish it. I am glad to get your balanced opinion on it and will now be thinking a little further before popping the earbuds in!

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    1. I'm not a big fan of chunksters, Heather, so that's undoubtedly part of my deal with 11/22/63 not working for me. It just depends on the book, really. I thought this particular title was far too wordy. And, I was so anxious to read it that I bought a copy instead of waiting for a swap. Grrr. I do hope you enjoy it when you get around to listening to the audio!

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  7. Since I (finally!) just finished The Passage and have The Twelve in my stacks, I think I'm going to hold off on this chunkster until next year. I'll probably listen to it on audio since I no longer have the patience to devote a full month to one book. Well, maybe East of Eden, which I still want/need to read!

    Have you read Under the Dome? Was it any better? It's huge, too!

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    1. I need to read East of Eden, too. It's a fat one, all right.

      Nope, I haven't read Under the Dome, yet, although I do have a copy. It is, as you say, equally monstrous in size. I hope I like it better than 11/22/63!

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  8. Hrmmmmm. I've been seriously considering listening to this one sometime soon (so next year) after recent dabblings with King this year. But like not love. Although from what little I've experienced, King is always too wordy, huh? ;)

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    1. I've only read his writing book and The Green Mile, so I honestly can't say if "wordy" is normal for Stephen King. I didn't think he went overboard in The Green Mile, if I remember right (but it's been about a decade, I think). I did think 11/22/63 was just a bit on the boring side because of the wordiness, though. If not for that rocking fine ending (the last 150 pages or so), I would have regretted it as a waste of time, but the ending did make it worthwhile.

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