11/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'll be a bit more specific this time about my feelings: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
That little discovery is worth any price, and since we know this is not just a time-travel SF, but a side-trip to madness, despair, and darkness, we can also assume it's a horror. Our buddy Stephen King is also a master of a certain kind of character -- what's the term for someone who's terminally confidently correct? -- I can't think of it -- so I'll just say our MC Jake is an IDIOT.
A likable idiot, one who has nothing but good intentions, but an idiot nonetheless, and he just doesn't pick up on the little hints that the universe might be ratcheting down every time he goes back in time.
I think this is a novel of the Beam. Dark Tower reference. And the Crimson King is using every flaw to his advantage. My favorite references are to IT, and we even get to see some of the kids, talk with them a bit, but there was also Cujo, tons of the Dark Tower, itself, and a MASSIVE lean-in to Dead Zone and Talisman. If that isn't enough, Stevie makes wonderful nods to so much else, yet again proving that he's the master of easter eggs. And it's not just his own works, either. The musicians he nods to are equaled by the nods he gives other great authors. Salinger, Shirly Jackson, Bradbury, and even Gaiman.
The story itself is great, too. The side-quests, the attempt to be all these people's little guardian angel, are just as important as the BIG quest to stop Lee Harvey Oswald. And he just doesn't get it that when the past harmonizes, things go wrong. His own little descent into idiocy was truly delicious. It's like when we're in Jack Torrence's head in the Shining. You know he's not all there anymore, but you're still hoping he'll get it right.
Of course, it's still Stephen King.
A truly awesome novel, still.
I have a lot to say about this book, and I'm afraid that I'd be biased because I learned to read from this great author, but after many years and many of his books read, I'd be a damn fool to think Mr. King is anything but a fantastic writer on any number of levels.
It's impossible, or plain unfair, to pigeonhole him into any category. He turns a great sci-fi tale that is, in its way, a much more solid and beautiful example of the genre than I'm used to. It's just not often that a great idea novel can grow such memorable characters as Mr. King can spin. I found myself utterly flabbergasted by the beautiful use of foreshadowing, all done in a way that supported and perhaps even transcended the tension.
Of course, it could be child's play for any King fan to start going into the tie-ins between so many of his novels, including the middle world, the crimson king, and Flagg, but they're never overbearing. They all just tease. (None of these specifically show in this novel, by the way. I mention them because the *feel* of them is very present and sooo damn creepy.) What does show, as a nice form of nostalgia, was the characters from IT. An oblique reference to Black House. So many other little neat things tickled me repeatedly. All the while, I was thrown into the worlds and times without any problem and my interest never flagged. Great book.
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