Author: Stephen King
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Alternate history, Historical fiction, Time travel
Dates read: 6th – 23rd May 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
5th sentence, 74th page: Another long fit of coughing, which ended with a terrible wet gagging sound.
Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out. President John F. Kennedy is dead.
Life can turn on a dime – or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away… but an even more bizarre secrets come to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession – to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten… and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
In Stephen King’s “most ambitious and accomplished” (NPR) novel, time travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
I was told a few years ago when I first started feeling interest in reading a King novel that this was one to start with. I then started with IT because I’m a fool who is kind of freaked out by clowns… but I digress. Turns out that this is a fantastic novel. Fantastic to start your King journey with and just a fantastic read all round. It was fun, enjoyable and not filled with the freakiness that I have found in King’s novels so far…
Although this didn’t have that horror aspect to it, there was still some serious feelings of discomfort and darkness throughout this novel. Not only in the relationship between George and Sadie (which I found tragic on so, so, so many levels). But also in the many journeys that Jake / George goes through. Each moment is a lesson in morals and the past, a lesson in understanding just what the future can hold for us… if we figure out a way to move on from the past.
The only thing that I truly know about the Kennedy assassination is that it happened. He was shot. That was the extent of my knowledge. And, to be honest, I don’t exactly know heaps more at this point. But I do know that Lee Harvey Oswald is the known shooter and that it happened in Dallas and it occurred through a window in a building called Book Depository (which disturbs me, because that’s my favourite online bookshop). This may be all a fiction, but it’s a fiction based on facts, so it was nice to not only read a very interesting and intense book that was also filled with facts about a reality I’ve never known much about. It was certainly a great way to find out more information.
11/22/63 will not only hit you in the feels, but it will also draw you in. The concept of time travel and the machinations that are involved in this are complex and brilliantly thought through. I’ve got a few time travel novels on my shelves, and some of them are just a great plot point, without much thought into the actual practices behind how time travel would work. This isn’t the case in this story – King has seriously thought through all of the details, the facts and the difficulties which time travel would entail. Which is kind of obvious when you realise just how damn big this book is…
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