Book review – 11.22.63 by Stephen King


11.22.63 by Stephen KingOn November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas. President Kennedy died, and the world changed.

If you had the chance to change history, would you? Would the consequences be worth it?

Jake Epping is an English teacher from Lisbon Falls who discovers an extraordinary secret: the storeroom in the local diner is a portal to 1958. Leaving behind a world of iPods and mobile phones for a world of Elvis, big American cars and Lindy Hopping, Jake sets out on an insane – and insanely possible – mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

It is a haunting world 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.

My thoughts 

This is the first Stephen King book I’ve read in more than a decade, and I picked it up because it has some similar themes to my current novel-in-progress. I’m not a huge fan of horror, so haven’t enjoyed the books of King’s I’ve read previously (It and Kujo), but while 11.22.63 contains some horrific scenes, I definitely wouldn’t call it a horror. It’s more alternate history/time travel/dramatic fiction.

I found some of the passages about Lee Oswald a little boring, but that may be because I’m Australian and not really interested in the true historical aspect of the novel, more the concept of changing a major historical event and the impact that would have on the present. I was disappointed that the book didn’t spend more time on the consequences of changing the past.  I’d expected a reasonable amount of time to be spent back in 2011, showing us how JFK’s continued presidency changed the world (especially considering the blurb played up this angle), but of a 735 page book, only 35 pages covered the consequences of Jake’s changes.

However, I really enjoyed Jake’s narration and found him to be a very relatable character, despite the unique circumstances he found himself in. I was totally engaged by his and Sadie’s love story, and the scenes of Jake as a teacher (particularly the effect he had on his students) stood out as highlights for me. I thought Sadie was brilliantly crafted. Out of all the characters in the novel, she was the most three dimensional, and I really rooted for her and Jake to have a Happy Ever After (what can I say, I’m a romantic at heart).

Although I didn’t quite get what I was looking for with this read, I still thoroughly enjoyed it overall.

My rating: four stars

How about you?

Have you read 11.22.63? If not, do you plan to? What’s your favourite time travel book?



Filed under Book review

6 responses to “Book review – 11.22.63 by Stephen King

  1. I’m not a huge horror fan either…tho I did spend an entire weekend watching zombie movies once…and laughed all the way thru.I did enjoy Kings ‘11.22.63’ tho not a history buff either I really did like it. I liked how he showed the potential consequences of changing the past. Good book. King fan or not you might like it!

  2. So, um, after reading THE SHINING and winding up completely terrified in the middle of the night (too scared to turn the page and yet too scared NOT to because I was so gripped by the story I had to keep going!), I decided not to read any more of Stephen King’s books! Good to hear that this one isn’t actually a horror, but … I will probably still stay away from it!

  3. My reaction to this book was nearly word for word the same as yours, Cally! And I did really enjoy it. My favorite time travel book so far is The Time Traveler’s Wife – amazing book!

  4. I’ve read a couple short stories of his, but none of his full length novels.

  5. I read this book last year and I agree, it is not a horror book. For me the best part is the main character Jake and how he tells his story. King is a very good writer. The angle of going back to the same point in time each trip is great – I wish I thought of that for a story. I recommend this book.

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