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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King

I'm done! Finally! It took me forever to get through this book and I hated that.  I'm usually a fast reader, but for some reason with this book, I just couldn't get into it enough to want to keep reading.  So, I would read bits of it every day for about three weeks. That is just crazy to me! Ugh! And, I'm not even sure why I kept reading - well, that's not true. I suppose I thought the book would get better. Well, it didn't.  For me, this story never really took off and I do think that it could have been told in a lot less words than King used.  Seriously, he could have cut a few hundred pages from the book and we still would have had the same story - a man named Jake goes back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. 

I wasn't even sure I was going to write a post about this book, since I didn't really enjoy it all that much, but I figured why not.  I wanted to share what I liked and disliked about the book. Here goes:

Pros:
  • The writing was typical King - engaging storytelling tone, interesting characters, and a solid story idea.  
  • The idea of going back in time is always a fascinating one - and to go back with the purpose of changing history (preventing JFK's death) is pretty awesome.
  • Learning about the late 50s and early 60s was neat - King is always authentic when describing time periods and locations - love that about him.
  • I liked the character of Jake when he was actually doing something - changing Harry's future by changing his past; dating Sadie and living in Jodie; and enduring so much drama when he wanted to change the past.
Cons:
  • Too much writing.  Seriously, the book is over 800 pages and a lot of those pages should have been edited down - a lot!
  • Too much down time for Jake that I found extremely boring and actually made me dislike him at times.
  • Too many unanswered questions, such as: Wouldn't Jake going back in time have changed Al's future?  Why was it that it only felt like he was gone for 2 minutes, when it was in fact several years?  Are there really that many portals scattered all around the world?  Did Al really not know about the card guys and how their cards changed colors? And, why was it that you could only go back to 1958 - why not earlier or later?
  • I found other characters more interesting than the protagonist (Deke, Sadie, Harry, Al, Marina, etc.).
  • Why wasn't Jake more careful about hiding his true identity? I felt like he was kind of smug about what he already knew was going to happen, because he was from the future.
  • Why did certain characters have to die? Is the past really that vengeful?
Anyhow, those are a few of my pros and cons.  Looking at them, I can see that my real problem with the book was that I didn't find it as engaging as I had thought I would.  I've always enjoyed King's writing in the past, but for some reason I just didn't enjoy this book.  I did care for certain characters and I did like certain parts of the book, but overall, I felt let down in the end.  The book just seemed to drag on for far too long, and as a result, the story lagged.  I know I'm probably the only one who feels this way about 11/22/63, but so be it.  

And now, I'm off to find something new to read.  Murakami's not calling to me at the moment, so I may have to shelve Norwegian Wood for now.  Perhaps, something classic should be on the agenda for my next read. Hmmm. Either way, I hope everyone has a wonderfully happy Thanksgiving!!

15 comments:

Beth said...

This was actually my first King novel; although, I've heard it's very different than what he typically delivers. I agree that the novel could have been edited BIG TIME. I actually really enjoyed it, but remember it taking forever to actually finish. I thought many of the scenes were a little unrealistic (like Jake's first go with Sadie), but I'll leave it at that. I thought the conclusion dropped off a bit, as well. It was so much build up with Jake just kind of getting along in the past and then BAM all the action happens at once. I'm glad I read it so I can discuss it but would say I had many of the issues that you did. Great characters and setting but not so engaging.

Bellezza said...

Nadia, I am laughing my proverbial ass off over here...did you see my post where I 'threw it down in disgust'? I'll have to pick it up for one of my book club's discussion on November 30, but my goodness, it's all I read in November and I'm still not done! If it was worthy, fine. But like you, with two-thirds of the novel finished, I just can't get that into it. We are so darn similar.

My anxious life said...

I am so surprised that you didn't really enjoy the book. Though I am glad you still took the time to write a review about it. King can get wordy (Stand, Under the Dome) but I eat up every word. I did think this one got a little long but I still loved it.

Angie

Nadia said...

Beth, yes! Thank you! I'm so glad I wasn't alone in finding this book to be un-engaging. Yay! You are so on par with what I felt toward the book ;)

Bellezza, I did read you post where you mentioned that ;)And I was so glad when I did, because I thought I was the only one feeling that way ;) Of course, I should have known you'd feel the same - LOL!

My anxious life, I was surprised, too. Especially since I always enjoy King, but this time just wasn't one of those times. Talk about a shock. Oh well. At least you enjoyed it ;)

Jennifer Hartling said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too :) I haven't read this one yet but I plan on it one of these days. I've seen a huge range of reviews and I'm curious about what camp I'll fall into!

Nadia said...

Jennifer, thanks! I'm curious to see what camp you'll fall into, too ;) Hope you have a great Turkey Day!

Athira said...

I'm not much keen on Stephen King, but this is one book I really want to read. If only it was a wee bit shorter!

Rebecca @ Love At First Book said...

I really enjoyed this book! I am a big fan of Stephen King, and I like both his darker and his "lighter" less horror-like reads!

I think that if you do a little softening of the whole time travel thing, and give some breaks here and there, that King did a really good job on the whole thing. I was wondering the entire book about how King was going to save or not save JFK. I love love love how he gives consequences for time travel, and many of the normal time travel problems are deleted if every entrance is a reset.

I do understand your concern with the length, though! While I didn't think it was too long, I was recently chatting with someone about books that are too long, books where I end up chronicling all the things that could be deleted in order to remove 300 pages! :)

I reviewed it, too, here:
http://loveatfirstbook.com/2012/09/21/112263-by-stephen-king-book-18/

Nadia said...

Athira, I think if it were shorter, it may have been a better read. Hope you enjoy it ;)

Rebecca, thanks for stopping by. I'm heading over to read your post. And I have to agree with you about the consequences for time travel - that was pretty cool that there were actually some (of course I didn't like them).

Lisa said...

Ah that length - that alone has put me off of this one and knowing that you felt like it was entirely too long makes me feel that this is one I just won't ever pick up.

Nadia said...

Lisa, I'm not usually hung up about the length of a book, but I feel like this time, it really prevented the book from being a great read.

Carole said...

Hi there, just letting you know that you are in my Featured Book Blog sidebar for December on Carole's Chatter. Have a great week.

Vintage Reading said...

I hear you about novels that are too long! I've lost count of novels I've read that could lose at least 150 pages without it affecting the story or mood. Shoulda been an editor!

Bellezza said...

Ditto about 11/22/63. Ditto ditto ditto on every point.

I'm sorry Norwegian Wood isn't working for you right now, but it's so true that there's a time and a place for every novel, and it's probably best that you wait for that time to come before going on with it.

Nadia said...

Carole, thanks!

Vintage Reading, definitely!

Bellezza, Yay! So glad I wasn't the only one feeling this way about 11/22/63 ;) And, you are so right, it probably just isn't the time.