Saturday, January 12, 2013

11/22/63 A Novel by Stephen King

I don't usually read Stephen King novels but when I heard about 11/22/63 I decided to make an exception. With the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination coming up this year (and possibly more from the Warren commission report finally being revealed)  it sparked an even greater interest for me in reading King's take on this historic event. A day in history that continues to captivate and intrigue so many people, and many of those not even born at the time.
First of all, don't even consider reading this book if you're not in for the long-haul. This is one BIG book. The hardcover copy I have is 849 pages! I'm a fast reader but it still took me a couple of weeks to get through this book.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. It had all the makings of a page-turner, based on the title and several blurbs I had read about it online.
The story begins in Maine, about a teacher: Jake Epping. The year is  2011. Epping, through a series of personal events finds himself on an unexpected journey back in time, presumably to save JFK from being assassinated. And in the process altering the history of the U.S. from that time forward (hopefully) in a positive way.
Well, if you're thinking that this is all centered around the assassination of Kennedy and the back stories leading up to that fateful day, think again.
When Epping first passes over into the past, it is not in 1963 or even 1962 but rather all the way back to 1958! There are many, MANY sub-plots in this book and it is only around page 700 that the reader gets to the day of the assassination itself.
Yes, some of the details are related to the shooting before that point in the story and there's quite a bit about the background of Lee Harvey Oswald the alleged assassin of JFK. But there is also a lot of twists and turns that for the most part only detract from the book.
Stephen King goes into minute (ie: tedious,boring,repetitious) detail about many events and characters that Jake Epping encounters along the way that have little to do with the actual assassination of JFK and don't add much to the overall appeal of the story.
Here's an excerpt from one  reader's (1 star review) from over at Amazon that I think sums it up in a nutshell:
"And then, about 550 pages in, it occurred to me. JFK's assassination is not the point of the book. The half cracked romance is. It would've been better if he'd titled the book something more pertinent to the "Romance Across Ages...oh, and a president."

Moreover, the book dragged on and on until the last fifty pages where he inserted characters that had no explanation
As for me, all of the above where the heck did the color coated time-police come from? and then summed up the changes to the present (made by meddling with the past) as Armageddon. Because that is OBVIOUSLY the ONLY conclusion that we could've jumped to here.

As long as the reader KNOWS going into this book that the plot against JFK is a sub-plot and not the point, they might not feel duped."


Duped indeedy! ;<)

And there are plenty of 1 and 2 star Amazon reviews for this book!
I don't even know why I kept on reading this book after the first 2-300 pages. As I said above, I wanted to love this book and I kept expecting that the next chapter would finally get to the real point of the story and move things along. It didn't.
I was very disappointed by this book. I think it could have been wonderful and memorable. Instead, I just wanted to get it over with.

The title is very catchy and Mr. King certainly grabbed my attention and millions of other readers with it. But things steadily go downhill from there. All the way to the ending that is just plain lame.
A waste of paper, time, eyestrain....a story that probably could have been told (and for the better) in about 400 pages, not this bloated "doorstopper" of a book.
Overall rating for this book: Unsatisfactory. 1 out of 5.


  1. i am a king fan...and wanted to like this one as well...i could not finish it the first time where near my fav....well you had some stinkers here recently...

  2. I've always loved SK, but somewhere along the way he lost his focus, and droned on forever, page after page of description. And much as I loved him, I just gave up, I felt like I had deserted a friend, but one who was incredibly tedious, and needy.

    I guess I won't be reading this book either. Stevie....learn to let some letters go.


  3. Excellent review. I won't be reading this book. Seems like all King wanted to do was to cash in on the continued interest in JFK's assassination.

  4. Ineed, thank you cause I would have bought it . I know because when I picked up the Stand which was supposed to be a book about the end of the world through an illness. I expected the best...But that's because I had read Robert McCannom's Swan Song, about the President finally pushing the bottun of no return, it was sucha precious excellent, heartbreaken novel that I thought I would love the Stand, but like you say living minutes by minutes which characters you don't even now, gets tedious and boring. but if you get a chance to get your hands Swan Song from Robert McCammon (sp?) oh you'll love every minute and you won't want to tear yourself away

  5. I have never been a Stephen King fan myself.

  6. Hi Brian, Interesting that you gave this another try. One go for me was more than enough. I have featured some "stinkers" here recently, haven't I? ;<) I've got some 5 and 4 star products/books coming up soon.

    Hi Jen, I can't compare this to other SK books as I could never get interested in reading them. Too gory, too violent at times etc, for my tastes. I think you've given Stephen some good advice here.

    Hi Joe, I know you were interested in this one too. Too bad it was such a disappointment. The concept was great, just not where this story meandered...

    Hi Lorraine, I'll check out that book for sure. I'm always on the lookout for a good read. And I agree, they've got to be the kind where you can't tear yourself away to be really satisfying.

    Hi OE, Ditto. thanks for stopping in.

    Happy Reading and Happy Week, G :<)

    Hope I got the link right but if not just look under books from, Robert Mccammon's Swan Song

    I promise you one of the best read ever....

  8. Ya know, I was always a huge fan of Stephen King. The Stand is my all time favorite book by him followed closely by IT and Talisman. I love a good |"journey" type story, it's why I'm such a huge fan of Diane Gabaldon. That detail adds a richness to the story telling that I feel a story needs. However, that being said, his last few books, Liseys story, Under The Dome and 11/22/63, I found to be great disappointments. While I thought 11/22/63 was a good story, you're right he spent far too much time on details and then seemed to rush through the ending just to give it an ending.

    I think Under the Dome was the biggest disappointment ever though. My daughter raved about it and all I could think was this has all been done before in the book Needful Things. Did we really need another book about mans inhumanity to man illustrated. He's starting to repeat himself andf that's not good.

  9. Hi Lorraine, I'll definitely check that one out, thank you!

    Hi Cathy, I know you are a big SK fan. Sounds like he's sliding in his more recent books though, not just this one. Time will tell. Hopefully, it's a hiccup that King will get past with his books. Maybe not though.

    Happy Reading, G :<)

  10. I have only ever read one SK book - the novella that was made into the film The Shawshank Redemption. Excellent novella, even though i can't remember the title (Shawshank Redemption is in there somewhere) but none of his other books appeal.


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