Friday, April 03, 2015

REVIEW: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: November, 2011
Genre: General Fiction / Thriller

Description: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. 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 secret comes 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.

My Thoughts: I am not a fan of the horror genre so I have not followed the writing of Stephen King and must admit I have not read many of his books. Stephen King has proven himself as a master storyteller over the years with his ability to weave a story outside the genre he is known for. I was intrigued by the premise of 11/22/63 because the concept of being able to go back in time to stop the most pivotal moment in our history is something many Americans have thought about. What if…? How would our world change if Kennedy had lived? What other tragic events would have changed as well? Would stopping Kennedy’s assassination make the world a better place or worse…?

The main character, Jake Epping, is a high school English teacher in Maine. One evening he reads an essay by one of his adult GED students named Harry Dunning about how he is the sole survivor of his father’s vicious murder of his entire family. Jake’s friend, Al, tells Jake about a time portal in his diner’s storeroom and asks him to help him stop Kennedy’s assassination, Jake is filled with doubt it could work. Jake goes back in time and arrives in 1958 and decides to stop the murder of Harry’s family first. Jake learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed and it will fight back to deter Jake from his goals. Jake is told that every time he uses the portal to go back to the past, everything is reset to the way it originally happens. After a few practice attempts involving many stops and starts, Jake decides to stay in the past to stop Kennedy’s assassination. He finds himself in the small community of Jodie, Texas going by the alias of George Amberson and teaching high school. He meets and falls in love with Sadie Dunhill, the school librarian. Meanwhile the clock is ticking forward to the infamous date of 11/22/63 and Jake is torn between letting history play itself out or following through on his promise to Al.

I really enjoyed this story and the suspenseful build-up of events leading Jake to his date with destiny. The author gives us a close-up into the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife. Life in Dallas and the surrounding area in the late 1950s-early 1960s is described with such detail, I got a very good sense of what it was like for Jake. I really loved the secondary characters, especially the people Jake meets in Jodie, Texas. I was torn as to whether or not Jake should continue with his mission or not. Loyal fans of Stephen King will also enjoy the references to his other work in this book.

I highly recommend this story if you enjoy books loaded with details and a storyline that sucks you in and keeps you guessing at the outcome. I thought the ending was very unexpected, but I wouldn’t change anything about this story.

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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)