Thursday, January 12, 2012

Biittner's B.C. Book Review: 11/22/63

While I am teaching in BC I thought I'd blog my Bookies book club reviews. 

Our January selection was 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  

First, I should begin by saying I am a HUGE fan of Stephen King. It is kind of ridiculous. I love his novels, even his crappy ones, so I knew I would be biased from the start. Well good ol' Steve continues to out do himself. I've said it before and I'll say it again, almost dying in that hit and run accident was the best thing to ever happen to Stephen King (cruel yes but that doesn't make it any less true). His too close brush with death has added such a wonderful depth and realism to his novels. As the King of Horror, he has always written dark, skin crawling novels (and short stories, which I would argue that pre-accident were his forte) but now he writes novels that provide chills because they deal with the emotionally scary stuff in life (mostly love and loss).

Ok enough rambling. About the book of the month! *Spoilers Alert*

It is a weighty undertaking but I could not put it down. I got sucked right into the storyline, felt invested in the characters, and was dying to know how it would all shape up. I loved his connecting this storyline to that in IT: the kids he first meets in Derry who actually open up to him and who he shows to dance are from IT (the darkness/bad stuff they talk about is IT so Jake/George enters their world just after they've defeated IT. This is a mechanism King has started using in the last decade or so - he integrates real world occurences into his storylines AND incorporates his own fictional storylines from other novels into his new ones. I love, as a King fanatic, finding all the lovely little breadcrumbs he scatters to connect to his other books. I found the book also nicely complemented some of the larger themes, including the consequences of time travel, as presented in the Dark Tower series. I had no idea how the book would end but thought it ended in the only way it could. I don't think this will be the last we'll see of Jake/George, not if King keeps writing the way he has been!

Also like most people I love the JFK angle, and I love that the world where JFK survives doesn't turn out to be a wonderful one. Sometimes things happen for a reason (something King is all to aware of) no matter how horrible they seem at the time. I loved all of the background on Oswald. I feel like I learned a lot about the lone gunman who changed the US, and reading the post-script it seems like King did his homework on this.

I thought there were some great secondary characters and that the first part of the book (in Derry the first time he goes back to change history by killing the custodian's father) was gritty and gripping.

Recommendation: If you liked this book definitely check out Lisey's Story, Duma Key, and Under the Dome. Also if you haven't read the Dark Tower series you should. I would equate it to the Lord of the Rings series in terms of importance and quality etc.

So to conclude:
Would I recommend this book: Absolutely
Purchase or borrow: Buy! I'll be reading it again. Although I really slowed my pace down and read every single word, I still feel like I missed something. I'm sure I'll find other breadcrumbs on the next read through.

Take care my dear Bookies. I look forward to next month's book (gotta track down a copy to throw on my Kobo).


  1. Have you read Stephen King's "Under the Dome"? I've had it on my shelf for a few weeks (taken out from the local library) but given what a massive undertaking it will be (I'm also currently working through Neal Stephenson's latest tome "ReaMDe") I'm hesitant to begin.

    1. Yes, I did read "Under the Dome". It's fantastic. I agree it is a massive undertaking but it is not a slog to get through. I found 11/22/63 had its slow moments but I don't recall any in "Under the Dome". I think I read it in one sitting.