901 of 935 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through the past darkly - a no spoilers review
"11/22/63", Stephen King's latest, might just be his greatest. Seriously. At least as far as "mainstream" fiction or "literature" goes. Yes, it is built around a well-used SF trope, time travel, but really, the portal to the past that Jake Epping is shown in the back of an aluminum diner is only the launch mechanism for this fantastic journey. There are no monsters...
Published on November 15, 2011 by James Tepper
185 of 216 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A glass half full...
I started this book with high expectations. While I have never been an avid Stephen King fan, I nevertheless enjoyed his last couple of books and had no doubt that this one would be at least as entertaining. Luckily, I was right...Unluckily, I was right only about half of the book.
Jake Epping is just your typical, average, divorced high school teacher until...
Published on December 20, 2011 by C. Young
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful love story,
I finished the last page of this book two days ago - roughly three days after I first picked it up. I simply could not finish reading and now that I'm done, I can't stop thinking about it.
I've never been a huge fan of Stephen King, although I have read some of his more famous works. Definitely a good writer, just not that much into the whole horror genre. I am, however, extremely interested in the JFK assassination and I love time travel books.
I read some reviews stating how boring this book is and how long it is and how much it's NOT about the Kennedy assassination. Look, King will happily describe a lamp post for six pages but that's just the way he writes. I don't think it was too long at all - matter of fact, I want more, more, more!
There's two story lines here, one of romance and one of stopping a major event in US history. Both are given equal room and are mixed together in some very intelligent ways. It's not a nail biter, but there are chapters that just keeps you hooked and you can't...stop...reading. I love it. 5/5.
130 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Master Storytelling,
I have a feeling that if Stephen King were to lose both of his arms and legs in a terrible accident, he would find a way to type using his nose. This man needs to write like most of us need to breathe. What's intereting is that he started out as a genre writer tapping into the most primal fears of the American public. Over time he has developed into one of the most gifted writers of our time, a man whose memory of a past world is so clear and vivid that it's nearly as frightening as the monsters in his books.
King has left behind the standard horror genre for many years now, some could even trace it back to just after he recovered from being hit by a car. Something shifted in him and his writing as never been better.
I personally don't like to read massive plot summaries in reviews, there are plenty of other places to get that information. So, I will keep this simple. This book is a massive time travel epic involving an attempt to prevent JFK from being killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. That King makes all of this seem plausible is a testament to his wonderful gifts as a storyteller.
In a book this big there would have to be a lot of filler right? Wrong. Writers take note - whether you like horror books or not, pick up several King books and read them, especially some of the larger ones like "Under The Dome," or even "It" and watch how a talented novelists plots a book. 1,000 pages never seemed so small.
The writing doesn't draw attention to itself, rather it creates a very clear sense of time and place and allows the reader passage there. Maybe that's why the whole time travel plot didn't feel far fetched, because King's writing iteself is something of a time travel device transporting us back to the early 1960's.
Stephen King is a man who doesn't stop. I'm grateful for that.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I have never been what you would call a crying man",
Those are the opening words to Stephen King's 11/22/63. A description of the main character Jake Epping, and rather accurate one of myself too. But I'll tell you what, I was a crying man by the end of this book. I'm not going to give away too much or write a long winded review...but listen to what most of the people are saying. This is one of, possibly THE best, King stories you'll read.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The stalking of Oswald was over-killed,
When I first started the book I could not put it down. I cried a lot from certain events and a weapon that I didn't expect. I got through a 1/3 of the book in a couple of days. When I got to the middle of the book, I felt it really got dragged out. I understood why the book was written the way it was. It was like reading a journal. The stalking of Oswald was driving me insane.It was overkill in my opinion. I felt after 200 pages I got it, your stalking him. This caused me to feel detached from certain secondary characters deaths or injuries.I just wanted the book to go to the next level. I was very pleased with the end of the book. Once you get to April of 1963 the book goes back to a nail bitting page turner. The ending had a sweet touch. I wished the emotional impact from the beginiing and ending were in the middle as well.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of King's better novels in years,
I read pretty much everything Stephen King wrote for the better part of a decade. Even then, there were some misses along with the hits. For every The Stand, there was a Christine; for every It, there was a Firestarter. But then, some time in the early 90s, the hits started becoming more few & far between (Delores Clairborne; Gerald's Game; Rose Madder). I know some love the Gunslinger series, but that never resonated with me. While his short stories & novellas could consistently be counted on to producer at least some good enjoyable tales, the body of work was just not as good, especially with the full length novels.
I really enjoyed 11/22/63, though. Few characters in the King library of works are as fully drawn as Jake. The depictions of Derry & Dallas are equally vivid. Long time King fans will love the cross-overs to some earlier works, notably It.
Does it go on too long? Yes. There are about 200 pages of "today I watched Oswald brush his teeth... then he went to the store... he yelled at his wife when he came back". Even at his best, King could have benefited from an editor with the will to stand up to him & say, "hey, this can be trimmed down." The ending actually is the one part that feels a little rushed. I never did get the "Yellow Card Man" completely, nor the "Jimla" references - I kept waiting for something much bigger & profound, but it never materialized. In spite of those critiques, it still felt like a satisfying conclusion, emotionally.
King has an incredible ability to cause me to keep turning the pages. When he locks into a compelling story, as he does here, it is a joy to get in the backseat & let him drive... even if that drive meanders some. Solid 4 stars.
34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heeeeeeees BACK!,
I think it has been years since I have been able to get through a King book. I've thought of his recent efforts as a sad decline in quality. I was a huge fan of his earlier work, his collections of short stories, The Stand, IT etc. But in the past five years I've pretty much felt that he has lost it. This book, however, is wonderful. Does the actual writing compare to his earlier efforts? In my opinion, no, but it doesn't matter. This is still the King of old, a book you do not want to put down, even if you have to stay up all night to read it. It isn't the masterpiece that I felt The Stand was, nor as beautifully written as some of his older short story collections, but there is much to love in this newest effort. It is a satisfying ride, and you are sad when it ends.
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Start, Tiresome and Tedious,
No spoliers! Okay. As some others have written, the book has a wonderful, grabber opening. I was taken in by the premise. But, the entire middle section of the book is tedious. Simply, this book should have been 300 pages and not the 800+ that was written. (Amazingly, this is my first Stephen King book, and will probably be my last.) I am stunned by the five and four star review. I just found myself skimming over the entire middle portion of the book. I was curious about the ending so, I gathered my courage, and plodded on. I just could not endure the detail, upon unnecessary detail. (I have refrained from the details of the middle portion to avoid spoliers.) Take book out of the library or borrow a copy. Great premise ruined by the author's desire to overwhelm us with the past and the details of an interetsing time traveller.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly, the best book I have ever read,
I really enjoyed this book. I could'nt put it down once I started reading it. I always liked stories of time travel and this one is great.At the very heart of this book, it is a love story, through and through. The time travel is just the means of telling a fantastic love story. The last chapter of the book made me feel so sorry for the charcter, but oh what an ending. It isn't very often that a book grabs you and makes you feel that way. I have'nt read all of Kings work, but of all the ones that I have read, this is now my favorite.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Into the Lions' Den - Some Spoilers,
If you could go back in time, and save the life of President John F. Kennedy, what would be the result? That is the premise of Stephen King's November 22, 1963.
I am a life-long fan of Mr. King's work, and The Dead Zone remains one of my favorite stories, along with Apt Pupil, The Shining and Pet Cemetery. So, when I learned that he had written a novel about both time travel and the JFK assassination, I couldn't wait.
The story moves along well enough, and the notion that the owner of burger joint had found a portal into the past, in Mr. King's capable hands, works. Why not? The most interesting parts of the story, for me, were the implications of time travel, and that the magnitude of a change had a corresponding magnitude in effect. Good stuff, all 'round. One change can send off strings of change along lines that we can't even imagine.
This is a story that I think many of us have, directly or indirectly, wanted to see written: JFK does not die in Dallas, there is no Vietnam, tens of thousands of young men do not die in a pointless war, and a "better" future at least has a chance to evolve. That's the hope, anyway.
Mr. King's background research and information is thorough and fascinating, and he weaves it well into his story. Rather than go right to Dealey Plaza, his protagonist changes the past in smaller ways, sometimes with unintended consequences. Much like The Dead Zone, the questions that arise of changing the past or the future are interesting.
Saving JFK, though, in November 22, 1963, launches an implausible series of events that lead to, among other things, nuclear war. This does not read like the kind of cool, direct storytelling that one finds, say, in A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, where every aspect of the story fits seamlessly together, providing a result that is greater than the sum of its parts. I became dubious at the notion that JFK would have had a close election with Barry Goldwater in 1964. Having successfully gotten the world safely through the Cuban Missile Crisis AND having survived an assassination attempt, Kennedy might have defeated Goldwater even more badly than he did to LBJ. The notion that the election was close reads forced, as though Mr. King, having saved JFK, had to force a story line to make his point. And the dominos Mr. King knocks over as a result of JFK's survival and second term seemed not particularly considered. Rather, it read to me as though he tried to imagine terrible dystopias and then link them to saving JFK. This read to me like making square pegs fit into round holes.
I was not persuaded. And, unlike The Dead Zone, in which Johnny Smith has to question the morality of killing someone who hasn't done anything to warrant being killed, there is no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was a vile pest who deserved death. Killing Oswald becomes the only real choice, though other scenarios are briefly contemplated. Again, this kind of artificial construction forces the story along to the predictable wild chase in Dallas to the book depository. Will they make it? Tune in next week...And because the man who saved the Kennedy's life was so articulate in his explanation of thing, because is role was so mysterious, the authorities simply let him disappear. Right.
For the detail and history, and even the standard love story, this is not a bad read, especially if you're interested in the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, etc. Mr. King also adds an afterward in which he states that his research suggests that Oswald acted alone. For purposes of the story, Oswald would have to have been the only shooter. I'm not sure he could argue otherwise.
Unlike other reviewers, I did not find this a bad read at all. At a certain point, though, the story became unrealistically plotted, a forced plotting to make it in an effort to make it all fit.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Read in YEARS,
I listened to this on Audiobook. It was amazing. I would get home from work and sit in my car just to keep listening. I don't know how to explain how great this book was. I literally feel like a chapter in my life is over now that I'm finished with it. You feel SO close to the characters and they are so well developed you hurt with them, laugh with them, cry often and feel every moment as the minutes count down to the climax of the book. It is amazing. By far the BEST Stephen King book I have EVER read. I don't know how he will follow this one up. I have never been a big Stephen King fan, but this book has literally changed my life. It is amazing. Good luck stopping because you eat, breathe, sleep, walk, work, etc. George Amberson/Jake Epping.
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11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King (Paperback - July 24, 2012)