Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63
By Stephen King
849 Pages
Publisher: Scribner

I will get this out of the way right off the top, since King’s readers tend to always ask, “Is it good SK or not so good SK?”, which generally translates to, “Is it like his old stuff or not?”

In this case, the answer is…kinda but not really? In some ways, but not in others? So while that answer isn’t exactly clear, I can say that in my opinion it’s one of the best things he’s written in quite a long time. And while I am a huge fan of King’s, I feel like I have the ability to be objective when it comes to his books. There are a few I thought were fairly meh, there’s a series that everyone else seems to love that I’ve never been able to get into (The Gunslinger), and there’s a novel that I have never been able to finish now matter how many times I’ve tried picking it up (Gerald’s Game).  So while I am an SK fan – a big one – I don’t unconditionally love everything he puts his name on. I did, however, love this book quite a bit more than I expected to.

It’s more of a sci-fi book than a typical King horror, which made me a bit nervous going in. I don’t dislike sci-fi but I’d prefer horror/paranormal any day of the week. The time travel bit made me a little nervous as well. Unlike my significant male, who reads Stephen Hawking for fun, I tend to zone right out any time the words “space time continuum” come up unless there’s a Delorean and some Libyan Plutonium involved. I had no trouble following the storyline whatsoever, though.

This is one of those reviews that’s really hard to do because pretty much everything one might mention is tied to the plot and therefore a spoiler, so mentioning even one choice that Jake makes is giving away too much. I will say I felt that the characters were really well developed (the main ones, anyway) and I felt a lot of empathy for them, particularly for Jake.  Events that take place are woven together really seamlessly. At one point when I was reading I realized that the book reminded me of a non-comedic episode of Seinfeld: a lot of seemingly independent stuff happens and as the book goes on, they all tie together and you think “aha, so that’s why King kept mentioning that thing that seemed completely superfluous to the story!”

It’s a daunting looking book at 849 pages, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s easy for even the most voracious reader to look at it and wince, because you could read two (or more) shorter books in the same time it’ll take you to read this one. Don’t let the size put you off, though. Unlike some of King’s books it doesn’t take forever and a day to get around to the point, and it’s a book that you quickly get hooked on. There were several times that I literally couldn’t put this book down, I would say “just one more chapter” and one chapter would turn into ten. So while it weighs roughly as much as my car (even the most staunch anti-eBook reader will be wishing for a Kindle), it’s worth the effort and the relatively copious time investment. Highly recommended.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m so glad to see that you’ve read this and have the SK knowledge base to say it is one of the better books he has given us recently – I definitely feel like I can trust you and now i just want to read it more.

    I really AM a huge sci-fi fan, so I think this’ll be a definite home run.

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