K. A. O'Neil's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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's review
Dec 01, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fuck-this-book

** spoiler alert ** I'm a reluctant fan of Stephen King. But this book was terrible.

The main guy is a teacher.


1. Meticulously correcting oral grammar
2. Catching some kids drinking at the sock hop, but letting them off easy after a heartfelt talk about actions and consequences
3. Directing a play and thereby enabling the town's best football player to realize his intellectual strengths

and on and on.

There are also a series of contrived plot twists. For example:

1. A crazed ex-husband shows up out of nowhere to kill the female lead for no reason and with no explanation.
2. AMNESIA. There's actually a case of amnesia in this story. Sure does throw a wrench into things!

And then, there's the love story. Here are the problems:

1. In my opinion, one or both of the characters has to be/do something cute or sexy or funny or interesting to merit falling in love. It can't just be like, "I realized she had a vagina and that I could potentially get all up in it. How I loved her."

2. Stephen King writes about sex as though he's never had sex. I've said this about him before. You know that scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where he's talking about how boobs feel like bags of sand, and everyone's like, ".....?" That's what reading Stephen King's sex scenes is like. One could make the case that, because Stephen King is a dude, it's impossible for him to know what first-time sex is like for a woman, but you don't have to be exposed to too many books or movies or TV shows to know that it fucking sucks. There's no "OhmygodYES" the first time you have sex as a woman. There's crying.

3. The reason why the woman is a virgin is that her husband of some years didn't want to put his dick in her "germy woman-hole." Really??????? That's not a thing that happens.

And all of this is to say nothing of the super-ridiculous time travel rules. Like I know it's sci-fi and that he writes a novel every twelve days and all, but let's put in some effort, here.

Skip this one and re-read Salem's Lot.

The rest of this post has spoilers in it so stop now if you haven't already read it.

So the guy changes the past and then comes back to find SWASTIKAS on everything, and encounters some teens on their way to a "Hate Meeting." Not extremely subtle or realistic, ya know?
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Reading Progress

December 1, 2011 – Shelved
December 5, 2011 – Started Reading
December 5, 2011 –
December 7, 2011 –
December 9, 2011 –
December 12, 2011 –
December 13, 2011 –
59.0% "This book is pretty bad."
December 13, 2011 –
page 961
December 13, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 12, 2013 – Shelved as: fuck-this-book

Comments (showing 18-67)

Natalie THANK GOODNESS real people like you exist! I was so baffled by the 4/5 star ratings of this book. It took me a month to read it and I shook my head through most of it. I was wondering why no one else noticed the ridiculousness throughout this story...thought I was the only one.


ok, I'm done ranting now.

K. A. O'Neil Haha, thank you. It got 2 stars instead of 1 because I did finish it, and because it gave me so many things to make fun of.

Natalie LOL, you're welcome... In those respects, 2 stars is right on the money!

message 64: by Mary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mary Your review is dead on. I delayed reading this for a long time because I swore off King after Under the Dome. But then real people, not reviewers, kept saying how good it was. So I got suckered in. He does time travel badly. For some good examples, try Connie Willis or Susanna Kearsley. Mostly the characters were flat in 11/22/63 and no, I did not get all teary eyed at the end as so many did. Now I have sworn off Stephen King again

K. A. O'Neil Thanks! I liked Under the Dome a shade or two better than this, but you're right. It's not his best. I'll read the next one for you and let you know whether or not you should bother =)

Natalie I wanted to read Under the Dome, but the length of it (along with King being the author) made me hesitant.

And Mary, I agree, he does time travel no justice.

Anthony Couldn't agree more. The way the past kept trying to stop him was getting a little more then frustrating. Plus the fact that this guy just basically wasted 4 years of his life for nothing kinda pissed me off. And I don't care how many songs someone sings that you've never heard before, you're never going to assume he's from the future. The part of the book I liked was basically just all the historical aspects of it.

message 60: by Angela (new)

Angela I have no idea if I will ever read this book or not, but your review made me actually laugh out loud. Good writing here, at least! :)

K. A. O'Neil Angela! You just made my whole day.

Laura I thoroughly agree with your post - thank you so much for this! If Jake said, "the past is obdurate" one more time, I literally thought I would throw the book out the window!

You're so right about the romance - completely flat. It was so awkward to read King's scenes between Jake and Sadie.

Also - since it did take 700 pages to get to the assassination, could there have been more than 5 minutes spent on it? The assassination was just a vehicle to showcase an extremely dull time travel story.

Vicki G And it surprises you that Stephen King, as a writer, makes broad sweeping generalizations about practically everything he comes across?

And thinks it's 'humorous' to compare the towers falling with going to a baseball game; Ex.-Get your hotdog, grab a good seat and watch while the towers fall around you?
If you ever read the Dark Tower 7, you'll see it in there. And read the Author's note at the end, where he accuses every single reader he has, by making no effort to inform us that he knows not just everyone is like that, of penalizing his wife for loving him.

My former husband died in Tower 1 and, by making that stupid joke w/out thinking he might have one or two fans who lost someone there, he was being abusive to US. Then he turns around and accuses me of penalizing his wife when I've never met her. He's supposed to be a writer. If he didn't mean he thinks we're all doing it, he would have said that "some" people are guilty of it. But he made no such distinction, which made me believe that HE thinks EVERYone does it.

But hearing that right after he made a joke about what happened to someone in my family just turned me off of him forever.
And he's still doing the same thing with broad sweeping generalizations about everyone he meets?
I stopped reading his books. Someone talked me into TRYING this one, but I'm still on a page where barely any action has occurred...and I'm on page 150. He still hasn't even saved the janitor from a life of pain, b/c he's so busy making references to a previous book, named 'It.' He makes all these dumb references to previous books, almost like it's an advertisement to read the book he's referencing.
Which BTW I ALSO hate. I absolutely can't stand it, b/c every OTHER horror writer thinks they have to do it in order to become mega-famous, and one of these writers is a BETTER writer than Stephen King. The fact that he's trying to emulate Stephen King in any way almost makes me physically ill.

But I better wrap this up, b/c I don't want to sound TOO verbose with yet another rant-y speech.

Amanda Tower I agree with the many cliches in the book. But I would argue that even the best writers use cliches, both purposefully and unconsciously, and sometimes to make a point. In that sense, cliches aren't always a bad thing.

However, I think your understanding of mental illness and how it's related to this storyline falls short. John Clayton clearly suffered from multiple psychoses (OCD and schizophrenia, perhaps), which is part of what I think fuels his behavior. You're right - the attack is seemingly unprovoked and random (if you ignore King's foreshadowing, that is). But as evidenced by Clayton's various end-of-world type beliefs, he's clearly in serious need of a psychological evaluation.

Regarding your reference to the "germy woman hole" being unbelievable, it's not unheard of for people who suffer from mental illnesses (OCD especially) to be disgusted by the thought of sexual intercourse and the desires of human sexuality. The idea that all men have rampant sexual desires is, in itself, a cliche.

K. A. O'Neil Dear Amanda, Thank you for stopping by to state your appreciation for cliches and to point out that I don't know anything about mental illness. Love, KAO

Amanda Tower Obviously you're entitled to your own opinion. If you weren't, this site wouldn't exist. So you didn't like the book - there are plenty of other King books for you to read if you choose to do so. You're obviously not the only person who won't be adding this to your favorites list.

My intent was not to educate you about mental illnesses. It was simply to present a differing viewpoint.

And I appreciate your appreciation for sarcasm.

message 53: by Michael (new)

Michael Sadly, I intend to read this one. Am not looking forward to it now. (Though I also found 'Salem's Lot pretty poopy, truth be told, so who knows whether our opinions will coincide?)

K. A. O'Neil You should read it. It's really fun to review =)

Janet Dahl Read it. Taught English/Drama. Those cliches are real, because they happen.

Elizabeth Fabulous! I just finished slogging through the book and in the review I just posted, I completely forgot to complain about the ludicrous crazed ex-husband.

Nicole Interesting - one of the reasons I loved the book so much is because I consider it a love letter to English teachers - and King was one for several years. I found it to be pretty realistic in that respect.

message 48: by Tara (new)

Tara An English teacher correcting oral grammar? Why in the name of Heaven would they do that? It's kind of their job...

K. A. O'Neil Tara wrote: "An English teacher correcting oral grammar? Why in the name of Heaven would they do that? It's kind of their job..."

Right, so a "cliche" is something that is obvious, or exactly what you would expect. So when the kid is like "Hey teach, can I go to the bathroom?" and he's like "It's 'May I,' and yes, Georgette, you may," that is a cliche and, in my opinion, not very good writing.

message 46: by Jean (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jean Beeler Funny, I don't even remember a sex scene, but I do remember the character's love. Guess the purpose wasn't to be sexually titallating.

Mandy You may not agree, but I think much of your review needs a spoiler alert, not just the last point. When I read a book, I don't want to know what happens every 20 pages along the way! You should warn readers before you get specific.

Ulrich Krieghund Does "I realize you have a vagina and want to get all up in it" work as a pick up line in the future reality you are from? What year is it there? How quaint you must think we are here. Great review. Also, avoid The Cell.

message 43: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Lehman KA, I don't agree with your review....I really enjoyed the book....but I did enjoy your review none the less. And the "Germy woman hole" thing. It does happen! I had a grand mother (in law) who defiantly had a similar appreciation for the act!! She definitely came from the generation of "it's a wifely duty" and was totally disgusted by it. Poor gramps!

message 42: by Curtis (new) - added it

Curtis Lowton I have not read this book but am so gratified to have read this clever and quippy review. Brilliantly written.

K. A. O'Neil You're sweet. Hardly brilliant. PS: Salvage the Bones does not live up to the hype. Skip it and read The Corrections instead.

message 40: by Kev (new)

Kev Stacey "The reason why the woman is a virgin is that her husband of some years didn't want to put his dick in her "germy woman-hole." Really??????? That's not a thing that happens."

It might have been a lavender marriage, he might have married her simply to hide the fact that he was gay, and homosexuality was very much a no-no in those days. Or he could have been asexual.

Sarah Love this review! Thanks so much for the laughs. I bought this book shortly after I moved to the city I live in now and just finished it tonight. I moved here in August 2012. I will give it three stars though because it was ok. I feel like two stars is verging on unreadable pap. This was just... dull. But not awful. 2.5 maybe. Oh fuck it, two stars.

message 38: by Nino (new) - rated it 1 star

Nino Thanks for review, I thought I was the only one who hated this book. Time travel seems very appealing though. I wish I could go back in time and keep myself from reading this book.

Marvel Fanatic Who needs your review anyway?? You should have kept it to yourself! I'm sick of people who think they are soooo original and funny! News flash: you are not funny!!

K. A. O'Neil Worth wrote: "Who needs your review anyway?? You should have kept it to yourself! I'm sick of people who think they are soooo original and funny! News flash: you are not funny!!"

I'm afraid you've made an error. In fact, I am hilarious. Incidentally, I don't think you understand what this website is for.

message 35: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rob lol love this review

Stephanie Fournier I do agree that there are a lot of clichés running throughout the book. However, having read “On Writing”, Stephen King’s writing memoir, I am pretty sure that Jake Epping’s character was not based on ‘teacher clichés” but was actually based on himself. King was once an English teacher and had very similar experiences, and most of Jake’s general thoughts right down to his grammar pet peeves are actually those of Stephen King himself. His own life (minus the time travel and the whole bit about saving J.F.K) was quite similar to Jake’s and was clearly where he got his inspiration for Jake’s character.

Bryan What does reluctant fan mean ? U don't sound like a fan of this book that's for sure...the story line is probably not for everyone but I enjoyed it though I thought it could have been shorter...

Laura Herzlos It is always amusing to read opinions of people who believe to be the ultimate owner of every truth and a specialist in every trade and occupation, from teacher to psychiatrist. You are, indeed, hilarious.

Dennis Koniecki I don't share your opinion of the book, but I enjoyed your review because it's well-writer and funny as hell...like actually funny. As opposed to most people here who think they're funny and just post dated animated gifs

message 30: by Rick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick Ashton Ridiculous review. As if you actually lived through the 1960s as a teacher. Pathetic

Janet I had to stop reading your review because I am only half-way through the book. It started off so well but for me, plummeted in the "love story" so I was curious to see if I was alone in this opinion. I will finish reading your review when I have finished the book.
P.S. I am a Stephen King fan and realize that some of his heroes have NO character flaws, which I find annoying but I had a difficult time even getting past his love affair with his fellow teacher AND the small town people.

message 28: by Rick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick Ashton Janet I wouldn't bother this review isn't coherent

message 27: by Jack (new)

Jack Goldenberg Great review, I really need to get to this. - Jack Goldenberg

message 26: by Estebantet (new)

Estebantet De la barba florida Do you know that Stephen King used to be an English teacher himself? I think he knows what to say when he writes about teachers.

Blind_guardian I thoroughly agree. I usually like King's books but this was absolute garbage. I really have no idea what all the positive reviewers are seeing in this book. As far as I'm concerned it can be tossed in the fire after Richie and Bev show up.

Kristen I could only get to the end of part one. Too much explaining, not enough doing. Very disappointing after The Green Mile!

I'm not a big horror fan, so I've only read a handful of other King novels -- finished Carrie and Hearts in Atlantis, tried Misery but didn't finish it.

message 23: by Scarlett (new)

Scarlett Haven't yet read the book but wanted to say your review was fabulously funny.

K. A. O'Neil Scarlett wrote: "Haven't yet read the book but wanted to say your review was fabulously funny."

Thank you! That's really nice.

K. A. O'Neil Kristen wrote: "I could only get to the end of part one. Too much explaining, not enough doing. Very disappointing after The Green Mile!

I'm not a big horror fan, so I've only read a handful of other King novels ..."

I really like Christine! Oh and Salem's Lot. But the best one, in my opinion, is The Stand. Huge time commitment. Not to mention the sleep you'll lose. I read a library copy that had a creepy illustration on the front cover and Stephen King's creepy face on the back. I had to leave it in the hallway before bed.

K. A. O'Neil Blind_guardian wrote: "I thoroughly agree. I usually like King's books but this was absolute garbage. I really have no idea what all the positive reviewers are seeing in this book. As far as I'm concerned it can be tosse..."

I LOLed at this.

K. A. O'Neil Rick wrote: "Janet I wouldn't bother this review isn't coherent"

I was thinking about saying something mean to you because you were so mean about my review, and then I realized that my review was kind of mean. So why don't we call it even and you can stop posting mean stuff?

message 18: by Jack (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jack Kozlowski Preach

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