11.22.63 by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have always been a massive fan of Stephen King. There are two kinds of his novels that I like, the apocalypse ones like The Stand, Cell and Under The Dome and the simple stories like The Body, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Despite its size, this in essence is a simple story about a man called Jake Epping/George Amberson and his love for Sadie Dunhill. But Stephen King can't help but throw in a little apocalypse at the end.
I wasn't alive when JFK was assassinated so my only impression of the man is from films, stories and TV. From what I've gathered he was a man that believed in the right things and tried to do his best for a country at one of its most difficult times. But really, this book isn't about JFK at all, it's about love and doing what you think is right and what really is. Time travel is a very small part of it.
First of all I need to mention King's ability to create a wealth of likeable and believable characters. There must be at least a hundred characters and yet it's easy to keep track of them, remember their relation to the story. Jake/George is a lovely character, someone I wish I had as a teacher who struggles with what he has to do despite the bigger picture. The character has flaws, but that makes him all the more brilliant and for every word of every page I was with him.
The second character is Sadie and she is just as fleshed out and loveable as Jake/George. King describes their relationship perfectly and at several times throughout the book I was shouting 'just tell her!' when she wanted to know what he was doing in Dallas.
King is also brilliant at setting the scene, particularly the era in this case. Despite being born in Britain in 1992, I now know what America in the 50's and 60's feels like and wish I could go there. This particular time appears often in King's novels and it's obvious he feels passionate about it.
My last point about this incredible novel is actually the ease of reading it. It's no effort, it's not a challenge or difficult anyway and you just can't stop yourself being pulled in to King's world. I love the way he injects songs into the prose and there were probably lots of references to It and Dreamcatcher in there too, but I haven't read It so I'm sure most of it went straight over my head. My favourite parts of the story were when George was directing Of Mice and Men and when he chaperoned the school dance with Sadie. If King wanted to he could write chicklits and women would be hooked on his every word.
My only, very tiny, negative point is that I found the parts where he was watching the Oswald family quite boring. I knew the very basics of JFK and his death and found these parts to drag but then maybe I just wanted him to get back to Sadie.
Now, I imagine a lot of people have talked about the ending, although really it ends twice, once in 1963 and again in the present day. In the first ending it is very sad but a little bit predictable and it's obvious what Jake/George will do but the second ending is so sweet and so lovely it just makes your heart melt, like all Stephen King books do.
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