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Joyland (Hard Case Crime Novels) Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: What a smart, sweet, spooky, sexy gem of a story. In this one-off for the Hard Case Crime publishing imprint, King has found yet another outlet and format (print only, a zippy 280 pages) to suit his considerable talents. All are on full display here in the story of Devon Jones--"a twenty-one-year-old virgin with literary aspirations … and a broken heart"--who spends the summer of 1973 at Joyland amusement park in North Carolina. Devon makes new pals, proves himself to the hard-core carny workers, saves a girl’s life, befriends a dying boy (who has a secret gift), and falls for the boy’s protective, beautiful mother. The first half of the story is sweet and nostalgic, with modest hints of menace to come. (Think: “The Body,” King’s novella that became the film Stand By Me.) Devon learns to “sell fun” and “wear the fur” (carny-speak for dressing as Howie the Happy Hound, the park mascot), but he also learns about the woman who had been killed in the Funhouse, whose ghost still haunts Joyland. King has fun with the carny lingo--most of it researched and real, some of it invented. (The Ferris wheel, for example, is the chump-hoister.) The second half gets spookier, spinning into a full-on murder mystery--but also a love story, and a coming-of-age-story, with some supernatural fun woven in. More than a trifecta, this is King at his narrative and nostalgic best. A single-session tale to savor some summer afternoon. And then try not to keep thinking back on it. --Neal Thompson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Michael Kelly begins his rendition of King's engaging short novel sounding pleasantly satisfied, if wistful, with just a twinge of regret—precisely the mood of Devin Jones, the book's protagonist. Now in his 60s, Devin recalls the details of how he spent 1973, working as a Happy Helper at Joyland, a slightly seedy North Carolina amusement park where, several years before his arrival, a young girl was murdered on a ride called Horror House. Kelly follows King's lead in fashioning a proper voice for each and every character, creating a delightfully unpretentious and winning listening experience. With this performance, it seems as if Kelly is himself responding to the advice given to new carnival employees by the sweetly paternal Joyland director, Bradley Easterbrook: Remember, the old man tells them, you're here to sell fun. A Hard Case paperback. (June) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This character driven mystery is one of those gems. It is a murder mystery with just a bit of the supernatural. Also, for readers of a certain age, this story, set in 1973, can bring back memories of a different era, when amusement parks and carnivals were an entertaining but tawdry world, full of fun with an underlying current of danger.
I was not sure that I was going to really like this book at first, since the early pages put a lot of emphasis on carnival lingo. However, I found the characters to be so interesting and was quickly invested in the plot. Stephen King has such an ability to bring his characters to life and make readers care about their outcome. The suspense is sustained until the very satisfying ending.
The Ugly: Let’s face it, there was a part of this book that was just too boring for my liking. If he would have gotten rid of the part at the beginning that involved Devin’s ex-girlfriend Wendy. It was boring and held no semblance to the story other than a device to get Devin down to the amusement park. If it would have been glossed over at first and then referenced every now and then there after it I think the book would have been better.
The Bad: I have no problem with first person point of view. I really don’t. Just finished another book of mine that was in first person. But it has to make sense for the story. I had a feeling there was more going on to this story than just Devin’s story. I would have loved to see what everyone else was thinking throughout the story.
The Good: With exception to the first person point of view, I have to say this was one of Sai King’s best writing after you get past the boring first twenty pages or so. Once the main story picks up he really kicked it into gear. The story does have a major hook to it after you get past Wendy. I’m not going to give it away, but you’ll notice it.
Final Thoughts: If it really wasn’t for the boring first part I would have given this book a higher rating. As it stands, it is a three right now.
SK has a long history of publishing his stories/novels only in certain formats for the express purposes of creating an atmosphere. The ones that come to mind are The Mist, The Storm of the Century, the joint publications of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and Rose Red, and finally UR. The Mist was originally published as a "3-d sound" audiobook. In the hopes of enhancing his readers imagination this short story was made into an audiobook with a unique 3-d sound stereo effect. With the background noise, excellent voice actors, 3-d stereo effect, etc. the fear and panic the characters feel was geniusly portrayed (if you can find it I highly recommend this to all). This was eventually published in a short story collection, adapted into movie format and can also be purchased individually. The Storm of the Century was published as a "novel for television." SK did this not only because the larger cast of characters would make this almost impossible to publish it in just one book in written form, but in order to portray the immensity of the storm. Once again this was eventually released in written form (the script was published in paperback). I have both the script and the movie and I love to read the script while watching the movie to see the differences. Another concept SK tried in order to enhance the atmosphere intended was the joint publication of the book The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and the movie Rose Red. Under the pseudonym Joyce Reardon SK published in paperback form The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer in order to provide a more detailed background into not only the characters, but also the house (a character in its own rights) Rose Red. The cover of the book has a note for readers to watch Stephen King's Rose Red. Publishing the book before the movie once again helped to enhance the readers (or in this case the watchers) imagination and create the intended atmosphere. Last on my list is the more recent UR. Because of the theme this was originally published in e-book format. You definitely would have not shared the characters feelings if this was first read in paperback form. Hence SK decision, once again, to publish this in only one form at first (this can now be purchased in audiobook form.
on to my actual review. this novel was as much of a great read as all his others are. I don't want to go into any detail of the story and ruin it for other readers with spoilers, so here is a small description. the basis of the novel is about a college student who gets a summer job at an amusement park, makes friends with others that are both living in the same boarding house, but also on the same "work team" at the park. at the park learns about the local legend regarding the funhouse's history and the resultant haunting. from there it just gets better and better as only Stephen King can do. the story's main character, Devin, is now much older and is narrating the story through flashbacks. at times while trying to tell about a certain part that happened during that summer the character seemed to get sidetracked with other side stories. at first I found that annoying. but, I started to think that that is what people do in real life so why is that not portrayed as much in novels. So I actually found that feature to increase the realism of the story for me. yes, I know this is fiction, but we all read books with our imaginations flowing as if the story is happening for real.
in conclusion I encourage anyone who is a fan of mystery books to give this a try. Even if you aren't a fan of SK I think you would enjoy this novel as his descriptions aren't as "hard core" as some of his longer books. some have stated they dislike his work if he gets too descriptive with violence and/or sex for their taste to handle. that is not the case here so I think you could take a chance with this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've only read two Stephen King books but his descriptive style amazes me. The clarity of the characters and the story put me right in it.Read more