Becki at Becki's Bookshelf's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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I'd like to begin by saying that this is one of the most entertaining books that I've read in a long time and that I enjoyed it enough to finish this behemoth in less than two weeks. Given that I'm a slow reader, this means that I could not put this book down.

That's a good thing, but my feelings on this book are two-sided, and I do not recommend it lightly. In fact, I'm not sure that I recommend it at all.

I've given this book three and a half stars (rounded up to four for rating purposes). As a representation of my enjoyment of this book, this means that I enjoyed the book enough to finish it (quickly), but that I have some reservations about some things in relation to the novel.

11/22/63 is a complex book in a number of different ways, which makes it somewhat difficult to review. To begin with, it tells three interwoven stories through a single, first person narrative.

This might have been intriguing if King had managed to segue each story into the next in a way that was continuous and cohesive. While I grasp the way that the three stories intertwined, I didn't find the lack of cohesion entertaining or beneficial to the overall story of Jake Epping's experience in the Land of Ago.

The first of the three stories is the story of Harry Dunning, a janitor at the school where Jake works. One night while grading adult themes for a GED class, Jake reads the story of "The Day that Changed My Life" as written by Harry Dunning, and the theme would go on to change Jake Epping's life. The essay tells the story of the brutal murder of Harry's entire family, leaving him the sole survivor.

This story is entertaining and interesting in its own right, and Jake's interaction with the theme and with Harry says a lot about Jake's character. Of the three story components, this is the one which I found to be the most compelling.

The second of the three stories, and the one which carries from roughly halfway through the novel all the way to the end, is a love story between the protagonist and his lady love. I found this story to be highly compelling and well-done: Romantic without the classic romance-novel sexuality that we're all so familiar with. It was well done, and I believed in the characters. I was pulling for them.

This is what Stephen King is good at: Making you root for the characters in his novels.

The third of the three stories is the one the book is named for: The attempt by Jake Epping (aka George Amberson) to prevent the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Although this was the story that I bought the book to read, I did not find it either compelling or entertaining, particularly not compared to the other story components.

What I did enjoy about the 11/22/63 story was the portrayal of the historical characters. It takes some courage to write about characters who lived in such recent history. People who knew Oswald, who knew Kennedy are still alive today. The portrayal of these characters for all of their humanity was fascinating, and I felt that it brought me a bit closer to the history that King had written about.

Ultimately what frustrated me about this novel was the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but I can say that I found it weak and somewhat predictable, especially if you're familiar with Stephen King. This was a disappointment for me, and I believe that it will be disappointing for other readers who otherwise enjoy the novel.

I welcome comments about the book, and your thoughts on my review. Thank you for reading!

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Reading Progress

July 31, 2016 – Started Reading
August 9, 2016 – Shelved
August 9, 2016 – Finished Reading
August 20, 2016 – Shelved as: science-fiction
September 3, 2016 – Shelved as: time-travel
July 24, 2018 – Shelved as: authors-to-read-again
July 30, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction

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