You have no idea how much effort it is for myself and other British bloggers to type out that book title. It’s painstakingly slow – ‘One-One-Two… No, that can’t be right. There is no 22nd month. Two-Two-One… Is that right? It must be. Oh wait, no. One-One…’ I swear I’m going to start a damned petition to give this book a logical name.
Plot summary – WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot – unless . . .
King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 – from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life – a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
As the Lit Addicted Brit so famously (kind of) said – ‘THIS is why I read!’
This book is amazing, and it broke me. There may as well be no other books. It’s long and occasionally heavy, but it genuinely stopped being just a story for me. I cared more than was reasonable about all the characters and felt so tense over certain plot twists I could have been sick. This is a story about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But not really. It’s also a story of time travel, morality, romance, science fiction and friendship, with a little bit of creepiness thrown in for good measure. This is Stephen King, after all.
Being British, I had very little knowledge about Kennedy’s assassination – the extent of my Presidential information tends to revolve around their vampire hunting skills. However, this is not a hindrance to 11.22.63 in the slightest. It doesn’t presuppose you know anything at all, but judging by the amount of care and detail that has clearly gone into researching this book, you’ll be an expert by the end.
That said, it’s written very accessibly. It’s definitely not for children (however much you may want them to learn their history), as some of the more violent scenes even made me feel ill. The tone is vaguely similar to The Gunslinger but as we all know how much I liked that (stop talking about your penis, Roland), it’s fairly obvious the two aren’t otherwise much alike.
I actually wrote in my notes how it was less creepy than Stephen King’s other books, but then I felt obliged to cross it out after a week of being convinced something was Watching Me from the darkness. It is creepy, but it’s hard to ascertain why. It’s certainly not meant to be a horror book; at face value it’s merely a historical novel. There is something though – something that maybe means you turn the hallway light on instead of wandering down it alone at night. It still haunts me now, so there are definitely two levels to 11.22.63 – the basic time-travel story with a darker layer slipped underneath.
The ending broke my heart and mind into so many little tiny pieces that I could barely function. I just kind of… sat there for a very long time, contemplating how everything could have ended up the way it did. It’s perfect and it fits the story, well, perfectly but oh how it hurt me! I hated it. Well, I didn’t hate it; I understand it. But I kind of hate it.
I know this is a rambling (and probably useless for everybody who isn’t me) review, but I have literally nothing bad to say about this book. Every word has a purpose and every character is historically and fictionally relevant. It would make a brilliant film and it’s easily, easily the best book of 2012 at Booking in Heels.