Kit★'s Reviews > 11/22/63
by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)
by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)
Wow, where to start with this one? So much to say and so hard to try and get my thoughts into a coherent order. I was looking forward to this book ever since it was announced. Maybe not with as much anticipation as I was (and still am) looking forward to the new Dark Tower book, but still with a huge amount of that old rabid-fan-girl eagerness. Then, it was released and people in the Stephen King Fans group started talking about it, both good and bad, and I tried so hard to not read the threads and spoilers about it because I had to wait until Christmas to get my copy and read it... but of course I read all the talk about it. Only made me want it more. But I had just finished reading The Tommyknockers and figured I'd better put another book or two between King's so things wouldn't blur together in my mind. At last, after removing the dust jacket for its protection, I got to crack it open, gently of course, opening to random spots and sniffing that delicious fresh-printed paper smell, eyes closed, eliciting giggles from my son. Then it was time to begin the best part, the reading. I started with the first page, title page, copyright, dedication, everything, the whole ritual, just like always with a new book. Then came the story, pouring off the page and into my brain, transporting me away to the Land of Ago. To say I was hooked right away would be redundant, I always am. I hated when I had to put the book down to do some mundane task like dinner and dishes, or sleep. When I was away from the book, I was dying to get back to it, like an addict to a drug. I was grouchy, snappish, wanting only to get back into my mind's happy-land. This book made me so nostalgic, and I was born long after 1958-63. But when reading this book (or It or Hearts in Atlantis or any others by SK that are set in the Land of Ago), it makes me long to go back and live in those times, though as the story showed, the times weren't always as golden as they seem to be, what with all the rampant racism and closed-mindedness and all that other lovely stuff, like Dad coming home on a Friday night drunk and beating wife and kids, and no one reports the abuse because it's no one else's business. Not that everyone and Big Brother all up in your face nowadays is good either, but at least people are more ready, willing, and able to help out victims now. But it was the good stuff I liked, the movies in nice movies houses, the little shops in town instead of all the malls and plazas we have now, the diners and cars, the old US highways before all the 4-8 lane interstates popped up, the kids who didn't know about XBoxes and iPhones and Facebook and therefore played outside and read books and stuff... all of that good stuff. Oh, and the prices! Those prices for rent, gas, food, a car... man! Send me back now! As for the JFK/political stuff, it wasn't anything as heavily involved as I was thinking it was going to be. I'll admit I was a little worried it was going to be overly confusing for me, since in History class when we studied that era, my interest was more drawn to the beatniks and hippies and all the fantastic music and that sort of free lifestyle, rallies and communes and etc, that sort of thing, rather than the more boring (at least to me at the time) aspect of the different people in politics and the things that led to the war in Vietnam, those things. But aside from a few names I couldn't recognize, I had nothing to worry about, because while the story was undoubtedly about trying to save JFK, there wasn't a whole lot about the political history lesson stuff, at least I didn't think so. To me the story was about Jake, and how going through the rabbit-hole changed his life, and not all for the better. I
probably definitely would've gone back too if I were childless and single, nothing holding me to the here and now. Just for the awesome adventure of it, and to see the past for myself. Jake's an English teacher, a common role for SK heroes (along with writer), and he's good at it. Especially during his time in Jodie. So much about his job as a teacher there made me smile, from the moment he met Deke and Miz Mimi, to the production of Mice and Men where he helped Mike Coslaw discover his talent and everyone shone. Reading that part, where the townspeople and students all got emotional, heck, I got emotional too. Then when he meets Sadie and they become friends, and eventually lovers. It was just so... sweet. But sad, because (due to my own failings in keeping away from spoilers) I had already seen that she wasn't going to make it to the end of the book with Jake, and also because it's just so sad to find your true love, your perfect other half, but 50 years in the past. Without even going into the ramifications of the butterfly effect and changing the future, just the conundrum, the paradox of how can a person who technically hasn't been born yet, ever hope to stay in the past with that love, and marry, and maybe one day have kids... Stuff like that all sort of makes the head hurt. How weird would that be? Not even going into how he had to hide who he really was from her, unable to tell her about himself or his mission. And oh, the mission! I liked Al from the start. He sorta reminded me of Wireman from Duma Key in a way. Just a reminding, like seeing someone on the street who reminds you of someone you used to know. But I liked him, I wish he would've been able to stick around a little more or even to just be there for Jake to talk to. Sadly though he wasn't. I also would've liked to know more about the Yellow Card Man, like where's he from, how'd he get the task of 'guarding' the rabbit-hole? The Green Card Man said they were just men, not aliens or any other sort of creature/being, so how'd they end up there, holding all the strings of time? And that was the kicker! The strings of time. I had believed as Al and Jake had, that every trip was a reset, not that every trip created a whole new thread leading to a 'new' future. So that kinda was a kick in the gut, especially when Jake thought he could go back and re-do things, save Sadie and live together HEA, only to realize he could F up the whole world by even doing one little thing in the past. The future he returned to after saving JFK was no future anyone would want, rife with radiation and sickness, and people even meaner than they are now. But I did like the mention of the 'old bucks' and the 'new bucks' like in The Running Man (if I'm not mistaken). Perhaps that story was on this future's string. Who knows, but I like those little 'easter eggs'. The biggest one was seeing Bev and Ritchie again, as kids, happy and still friends after the summer of IT. But there was also the impossible to miss red and white Plymouth Fury, which shows up in other stories too. Too big to be a mere coincidence, but unexplainable nonetheless. But back to the strings. How many others were created by Al, and by Jake, and by anyone else who ever stumbled over any other rabbit-hole somewhere? It's like the layers of worlds all held up by the Tower with some being super similar. Seeing the Takuro Spirit on Jake's trip to the dystopic 2011 reminded me most strongly of this, as that same type car has also appeared before in an Alternate Topeka future. The sky ripping sound he hears in this future also sort of made me think of it, like the sound of Beams breaking. But that wasn't all that made it an excellent read. It was, as always, the characters, the people who seem so real, and their relationships to each other and their world, how they sneak into my head and even my heart, as corny as that sounds. I cared about them, Al, Jake, Sadie, Deke, Mike Coslaw... even Marina and June a bit, which makes me feel sort of odd as they are real-life people that I know nothing about. Sort of makes me want to Google them and Lee and JFK and the events before the war and all of that. I also want to Google Jake's Sunliner that he loved so much, just so I can get a good image in my head as I've never seen one before, or even heard of 'em before. This book sort of brought to my attention how much everyone takes all this internet and technology and cell phone stuff for granted nowadays, when back then it was all just so much science fiction and crazy ideas. Not everyone had a phone, you actually had to go to a neighbor's or a pay phone if you didn't have one. And the bugs Jake planted in Oswald's apartments? Kinda hilarious how big and complicated they were when now they're microchip size and smaller and no wires required with all this fancy digital wifi stuff we got now. Want to look something up? Better go to the library and hope you find it, because Google's years and years and years away. Just think of all those poor kids who actually had to work on their homework instead of just Googling the answer or even worse, buying term papers and book reports pre-written from someone online. Ha! I love living in our time, to an extent, like some things I like, like texting my friend in Arizona and having a conversation in real time without having to talk on the phone and get long-distance charges, or waiting a week for a letter. And of course I like the internet, being able to connect with like-minded people or people who share my love of something (like here on GR!). But I do agree with some who think that technology's sort of taking over and messing up people's lives in ways. It's a love/hate thing I guess. I do like having my cell in case I'm ever accosted while out, or have car trouble, or any other emergency. When Jake got beaten so badly, and was wishing for his phone because he'd have to try and make it down the block to get help, right there, perfect example of the good in 'em. But I like the simplicity of back then, the more relaxed pace of things, not everyone going all rush, rush, rush, gotta accomplish a hundred and twenty things a day. Because I'm a relaxed sort of person, and that's probably why I'm not very successful. I don't have that drive to accomplish a billion things, and probably never will. I think I'd do better back then, when all a girl had to do was graduate high school, find a husband, and be Suzy Homemaker. Lol, I totally just went against the modern view, and really, I don't want to be Suzy Homemaker, I just think I'd have liked working for the phone company or as a secretary, or at the library, back when you didn't need a masters degree and a type-A personality to get a job. Ah, but I digress and try to get back to the story. I loved the ending, though it wasn't what the romance HEA lover in me wanted. It made me cry. Seriously. When Jake2011 went down to Jodie, Texas and found Sadie2011. all old, but of course still beautiful to him, even though he'd had to do a 'reset' to fix the huge mess he'd made with the whole JFK thing, making it so he'd never been to Jodie in the 60's amd so she'd never met him, and they'd technically never had their relationship and all, though he remembered it all as it had been before the 'reset'... I cried! It was bittersweet and depressing, but the tiniest bit nice too, because at least she'd lived this time instead of dying as she had before the 'reset', and she'd led a good life that positively affected a lot of people. Poor Jake had to make a lot of sacrifices in this book; his blissfully ignorant original life, even though it was far from perfect, his health, since he got beaten so terribly, his true love who he'll never get to have with him again, and his sense of belonging anywhere, as his time-traveling and different futures had made him feel like he didn't have a tru time-period anymore. I was surprised at after everything he did in the past, the future he came to was so unbelievably horrible. But, then again, this being SK, I guess it wasn't so surprising after all. But based on some things I had read online about there being huge left-wing political things in this novel, I was sort of thinking he'd come to some utopian sort of future where there was no Vietnam war and no war in the Middle East because of this Democratic president being saved. So I was a little surprised that it didn't turn out all 'hooray for the Democrats, the world's perfect now'. For me, it was all good, I like when SK doesn't give me what I expected, and this whole story was not what I expected, 'specially where the politics and the history lessons were concerned. It was a great book and I loved every minute of the ride. Even got a book recommendation out of the deal in the Afterword, with Time and Again by Jack Finney (and I'll probably add Invasion of the Body Snatchers to my want list too). Gotta love it when ya find new books to add to the wanna-read list. A keeper book this is, of course! I recommend it to any SK fan, and even to people not familiar with him, because I think this one is not quite as out there as some others, and not horror at all, so it'd be good for more (geez, I hate to even say it) 'mainstream' people. I'd recommend it to my mum, but she still hasn't read Blaze or Heart-Shaped Box that I lent her over a year ago. And I'm overdue for a re-read of Heart-Shaped Box, so I want it back soon! But I think next I'm going to read something light and fluffy so it doesn't fade this one away too soon, I'm sad it's over and I want to sort of savor it. The release of my next fresh fix, Wind Through the Keyhole, is so far away! I don't know how I'll bear it, but I know I'll have to somehow, since I've no other option. 5 Stars all the way!
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