Gemma's Reviews > The Shining

The Shining by Stephen King
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's review
Aug 30, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: paranormal, thrillers, horror
Read from May 23 to 27, 2011

I confess myself to be disappointed.

Don't get me wrong, now. If I didn't like this book I wouldn't have given it four stars. But I thought this was supposed to be scary! Through part one I was breathless with anticipation in a hit-me-hard-I-don't-feel-like-sleeping-anyway kind of way. Towards the middle, I felt distinctly duped. When things started getting serious, I found myself thinking, "At this point I'd settle for reasonably unnerved." Come on, now, moving hedges ("What the heck is this?"), regenerating wasps' nests ("All right, that's a little better."), a dead woman floating in a bath tub ("Haven't I seen this before?"), a sinister masked ball ("Yep, I've definitely seen this before."), and a highly questionable fire hose ("Oh, for crying out loud!")...I've seen worse. And while murderous rampages are no doubt suspenseful, and Mr. King handles his like a pro, they don't exactly chill the blood.

I was also surprised to find that the iconic lines from the movie, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and "Here's Johnny!" weren't actually in the book. Go figure.

On a positive note, Mr. King's description of Jack Torrance continually impressed me. Jack's got issues, to put it mildly, and his struggle back from his past mistakes to start fresh endeared me to him. That's probably why it really hurt to watch him fall apart under the Overlook's influence. Even when the roque mallet came into play, I was still sympathetic towards him; after all, the hotel had virtually destroyed him and he's lost his mind. His shining moment of redemption, no pun intended, nearly brought a tear to my eye.

Wendy started out as bland and forgettable for me, but caught between a husband she barely trusts and a son she doesn't understand, she really came into her own. She concocted an escape plan, never mind that it didn't work, she confronted Jack with a butcher knife, and when it came to protecting Danny, it was do or die. Brava, madame!

And then there's Danny, precocious, somber, and forced to bear witness to things no five-year-old boy should have to cope with. There are words to describe Danny Torrance, but they escape me at the moment.

The style was snarky, there was more emotional depth than I expected, and I was surprised and delighted at a reference to The Phantom of the Opera. I would have loved to give this book five stars, but I picked it up expecting a downright terrifying horror novel, and it didn't deliver.

Sorry, Mr. King. Better luck next time.

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