Possible spoilers if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, in which case you should do so right now. This will undoubtedly end up as a comparisPossible spoilers if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, in which case you should do so right now. This will undoubtedly end up as a comparison between the two—me being the Kubrick fan-boy that I am-so having experienced both versions would probably help understand what I'm talking about.
The Shining is probably my favorite horror movie of all time. It takes a medium based on cheap pop-out scares and uses the horror in a way that gives legitimate depth to the characters. To me, it's a prime example of how horror ought to be done. It's not a perfect movie. The characters aren't entirely believable and don't always act, um, like normal people (this seems to be a trend in Kubrick movies, though I don't love them any less for it). If I had to praise the book for any one thing, it would be how well developed the characters were in comparison to the movie. There was a lot of depth to the characters as well as—surprisingly—all of the symbolism and motifs being thrown around throughout the book. The book was also very unnerving in parts and almost certain scarier than the movie (not to brag or anything, but I'm not one to find horror movies scary). Books and written word in general leave far more up to the imagination, and I find horror is far more effective when it's psychological. The unknown is usually scarier than anything you can see and that where this book gets most of it's horror from.
So, you say, with all this praise surely I must think the book is better than the movie, right?
For all the awesome storytelling and its near-brilliance, The Shining horribly fails in one regard. Stephen King is a horrible writer. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Stephen King is a horrible editor. The page count of The Shining could have been cut in half without losing any important information. He fills these pages with useless explanation and almost redundant character development. I didn't know it was possible to spend too much time developing character but King did it. In the movie Jack's alcoholism is only briefly mentioned during the opening scenes, but King decides to spend 500 chapters describing how each member of the family and his career have all been affected by Jack's addiction. I suppose this is asking a lot considering King is a mainstream pop-lit author, but some subtlety would be nice. I think Hemingway's iceberg theory could have been applied here with extraordinary results. Kubrick's version was far more subtle than this, and a lot more interesting because of it (what's this, you say, a subtle horror movie!?). Everything was just executed better. Plus Jack Nicholson is absolutely amazing at portraying insanity.
Another thing, the novel starts getting downright absurd around the climax. The overall scariness of the novel took a nosedive right when the “scary” stuff started happening. For some reason the anticipation of what was going to happen was more frightening than it actually happening. Oh well.
Inexplicably King didn't like Kubrick's adaptation of the novel, but I won't judge him too harshly. It is his story after all. Kubrick made it his own, and I'd probably be pretty ticked if someone did that with my work. Just don't expect me to watch King's TV mini-series adaptation....more
This book is really imaginative and at times even a bit touching. There's some truly creative, insightful material here. If I had to criticize the booThis book is really imaginative and at times even a bit touching. There's some truly creative, insightful material here. If I had to criticize the book, it would be for the fact that the quality of these vignettes really varies. There's some 5-star material in here, but a lot of it is merely okay, so I think I'll settle for a 3-star rating. I guess it's profound, just not profound enough. Is that a petty complaint?
I say this, but if you're looking for a well-written, thought-provoking and imaginative book you can read in one sitting, you could certainly do a lot worse than this. Everyone else seems to think it's the best thing since sliced bread....more
'This book is just dreamy. It rolls by in a dream.'
I don't know who the hell this Eve Babitz charactApparently, Eve Babitz said this about the novel:
'This book is just dreamy. It rolls by in a dream.'
I don't know who the hell this Eve Babitz character is, but she's got it right. This book just flows. One scene moves to the next so fluidly as to make chapters almost unnecessary. Some sections are almost trance-like.
I'm not sure if I can give it five stars, but I did really like it, and it has some absolutely beautiful passages. My only complaint is that a few sections (ones where Ventura went into great length describing zoo animals) sorta ruined the pace--felt out of place maybe....more
It's kind of like a mix between Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palanhiuk. If that sounds bad it's totally not meant to. That's just what it felt like to me.
IIt's kind of like a mix between Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palanhiuk. If that sounds bad it's totally not meant to. That's just what it felt like to me.
It's Yu's first novel and a pretty good one at that. Yu uses time travel and science fiction in general as a vehicle for narrating a lot very human problems and feelings like Vonnegut often did. He also reminds me of Vonnegut in how he manages to add humor to his novels without detracting from the overall seriousness of the story he's trying to tell. It's a pretty lighthearted read for the most part though.
He also discusses quite a few very interesting ideas on time travel that hadn't occurred to me before. I don't know about you, but I think time travel is an insanely cool subject. If you're interested in time travel you'll probably enjoy this novel to some extent. In the acknowledgments he mentions he also mentions Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, and David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality as the sources for a lot of his idea's, so I'll probably check those out in the near future.
As much as I liked it, it's obviously not without it's flaws. I mentioned Palanhiuk, and like Palanhiuk, Yu's work features a lot of snappy one-liners and other stylistic similarities. And like Palanhiuk, his writing is often drawn out longer than necessary. It's not exactly purple, but it's not as concise as it could be either. It definitely detracted from certain sections of the book.
Doesn't quite rise to the heights it was aiming for, but still, really good book. I recommend it to any Vonnegut fans or science fiction readers in general who don't mind a light read. Certainly looking forwards to Yu's next novel....more