Marion Stein's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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's review
Jan 14, 2012

really liked it
Read in December, 2011

King is a pretty eclectic craftsman, comfortable with short stories, novellas and novels. His style ranges from arguably literary fiction -- The Body, Apt Pupil, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, even The Shining, to pure page-turners. 11/23/63, falls into the latter category. It doesn't lag much, but it could have used a bit of trimming. It's well researched as far as the Kennedy details go, but its time travel mechanism is definitely fantasy and not science fiction. There's no logic to it, and we are basically asked in the beginning and then more so at the end, to simply believe in the unbelievable premise, and King's idiosyncratic physics, which is not Einstein's nor Hawking's.

Without spoilers it's hard to tell other readers what I found dissatisfying, but there were several "twists" toward the end that I didn't buy. I could feel the wheels turning -- a certain contrivance necessary for the hero to not accomplish his mission before the last possible moment. While the narrator tells us this is the timeline's resistance to being changed, I felt the author's hand behind it, and could see the set ups being created. At the end, of course the hero must make a decision, but there was little doubt as to what it would be. It could not have been other.

So I didn't "love" the book. On the other hand I neglected many other things and read the whole meggilah in a couple of days. That says something. So I can't really give it less than four stars.

If you've never read King, and think you won't like him, this is probably not where you'd want to start. If you are an alternate history fan, there's probably not enough glimpse into the re-imagined present to satisfy. If, like me, you came into this expecting or hoping for something like The Man in the High Castle, but with the Kennedy assassination substituting for World War II, you'll be sorely disappointed. However, if you allow yourself to go with it, you'll be caught up in the story, even if not passionate about it.
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