techeditor, January 14, 2014 (view all comments by techeditor)
If you haven't read 11/22/63 by Stephen King, why not? It could be for the same reason I put it off. Although I read many of his books 30-plus years ago, supernatural horror stories don't interest me anymore. And that's what King is known for. That is probably the reason he has not gotten all the praise he deserves for this book, so different from his others that I've read. Yes, it was on many best-of lists. But a book this good should be praised long after the month and year it was published. If you haven't read it, read it for its twists and turns, its terrific dialog, its atypical King content.
You've probably already read a summary of the story above or someplace else. So it's safe to say that Jake, an English teacher/writer in Maine (OK, so that is a typical Stephen King main character), learns how to step into the past. He decides to take this opportunity to prevent President Kennedy's assassination but has to spend 5 years in "the Land of Ago" before that date, 11/22/63. The summary that you probably already read probably told you too much. You'll enjoy this story more if you read only the first and last paragraphs of the summary.
This book is long. Unless you're reading an e-book, its heft, alone, may put you off. I read a hardcover. Believe me: while I was reading the last 50 pages, I felt terrible that the story was coming to an end. Isn't that the best kind of book and reason enough to read it?
Sarah Mirati, March 29, 2013 (view all comments by Sarah Mirati)
This was my first Stephen King novel and I loved it. As you start the book you feel like you are a journey with the lead character, you don't know where the story is going and neither does he. But then at some point it changes to him knowing everything you still don't know where it is going. That is what i loved most about this book I couldn't predict what was coming next. Also the book really flows nicely. Don't be intimidated by the size it is well worth the time, and it isn't scarey like his other novels. Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did.
dljoy, January 17, 2013 (view all comments by dljoy)
The whole concept of this book was so different from anything else I've read by Stephen King-I absolutely loved it.
The concept of time travel and using it to change the world was very thought provoking because it went beyond the
"what if" and told the results of those changes. How many of us haven't wondered what it would be like to go
back and change the past-usually for our own good. Mr Kings' character wants to change national events and
with several dry runs gets to succeed and see his results.
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Jim Stitt, January 9, 2013 (view all comments by Jim Stitt)
This book was so interesting I could not put it down. I stayed up late for 2 nights in a row reading it. If you think Stephen King writes only horror stories, you will be surprised.
jksquires, March 29, 2012 (view all comments by jksquires)
Very lengthy, but a compelling read. i love time travel books, and since I'm the same age as Stephen King, I share his obsession with the events of that fateful day in November. Beware of traveling to the past--there will be consequences.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"High school English teacher Jake Epping has his work cut out for him in King's entertaining SF romantic thriller. Al Templeton, the proprietor of Al's Diner in Lisbon Falls, Maine, has discovered a temporal 'rabbit hole' in the diner's storage room that leads to a point in the past — 11:58 a.m. September 9, 1958, to be precise. Each time you go through the rabbit hole, according to Al, only two minutes have elapsed when you return to 2011, no matter how long your stay; furthermore, history resets itself each time you return to that morning 53 years ago. Al persuades Jake to take a brief, exploratory trip through the rabbit hole into 1958 Lisbon Falls. After Jake's return, a suddenly older and sick-looking Al confesses that he spent several years in this bygone world, in an effort to prevent President Kennedy's assassination, but because he contracted lung cancer, he was unable to fulfill his history-changing mission. 'You can go back, and you can stop' the assassination, he tells Jake. Jake, with only an alcoholic ex-wife by way of family, is inclined to honor his dying friend's request to save JFK, but he also has a personal reason to venture into the past. A night school student of his, school janitor Harry Dunning, recently turned in an autobiographical essay describing how on Halloween night 1958 Dunning's father took a hammer to Dunning's mother and other family members with, in some cases, fatal results. An attempt to head off this smaller tragedy provides a test case for Jake, to see if he can alter the past for the better. Hundreds of pages later, once over the initial hurdles, Jake is working under a pseudonym as a high school teacher in Jodie, Tex., an idyllic community north of Dallas. Knowing who's going to win sporting events like the World Series comes in handy when he's short of funds, though this ability to foretell the future turns out to have a downside. Indeed, the past, as Jake discovers to his peril, has an uncanny, sometimes violent way of resisting change, of putting obstacles in the way of anyone who dares fiddle with it. The author of Carrie knows well how to spice the action with horrific shivers. In Jodie, Jake meets a fellow teacher, Sadie Dunhill, who's estranged from her husband, a religious fanatic with serious sexual hangups. Jake and Sadie fall in love, but their relationship has its difficulties, not least because Jake is reluctant to tell Sadie his real identity or reason for being in Texas. Clearly inspired by Jack Finney's classic Time and Again, King smoothly blends their romance into the main story line, setting up the bittersweet ending that's as apt as it is surprising. He also does a fine job evoking the sights, sounds, and smells of the late '50s and early '60s. The root beer even tastes better back then. By early 1963, Jake is zeroing in on a certain former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union and has recently returned to the U.S. with his Russian wife. Relying on Al's judgment, Jake is only about 75% sure that Lee Harvey Oswald alone shot JFK, so he spends much time trying to ascertain whether Oswald is part of a conspiracy. Jake admits to not having researched the Kennedy assassination while still in 2011 Maine. If he had, he might've given up after concluding that it would be hopeless to try to stop, say, the Mafia, or the CIA, or Vice President Johnson from killing Kennedy. On the other hand, the plot would've been a lot less interesting if Jake, convinced on entering the past that Oswald was the sole gunman, felt compelled to eliminate Oswald long before that pathetic loser settled into his sniper's nest in the Texas School Book Depository, toward which Jake winds up racing on the morning of November 22, 1963. In an afterword, King puts the probability that Oswald acted alone at 'ninety-eight percent, maybe even ninety-nine.' 'It is very, very difficult for a reasonable person to believe otherwise,' he adds. King cites several major books he consulted, but omits what I consider the definitive tome on the subject, Vincent Bugliosi's Edgar-winning Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Norton, 2007). Bugliosi, who makes an overwhelming case in my view that the Warren Commission essentially got it right, covers the same ground as a book King does mention, Gerald Posner's Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (Random, 2003), then goes on to destroy the arguments of the conspiracy theorists, with wit and ridicule as weapons. Of course, there will always be intelligent and otherwise reasonable people, like PW's anonymous reviewer of Reclaiming History and King's wife, novelist Tabitha King (a life-long 'contrarian,' King tells us), who side with the host of cranks emotionally invested in believing Oswald was the patsy he claimed. Those folks may have a problem with this suspenseful time-travel epic, but the rest of us will happily follow well-meaning, good-hearted Jake Epping, the anti-Oswald if you will, on his quixotic quest. Peter Cannon is PW's Mystery/Thriller reviews editor." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by David Rapp, Library Journal,
"In King's...first full-length novel since 2009's Under the Dome, the horror master ventures into sf....King remains an excellent storyteller, and his evocation of mid-20th-century America is deft. Alternate-history buffs will especially enjoy the twist ending."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"King's imagination, as always, yields a most satisfying yarn."
by Errol Morris, The New York Times Book Review,
"[O]ne of the best time-travel stories since H. G. Wells. King has captured something wonderful. Could it be the bottomlessness of reality? The closer you get to history, the more mysterious it becomes. He has written a deeply romantic and pessimistic book. It's romantic about the real possibility of love, and pessimistic about everything else."
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