By Stephen King
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451627282, November 2011, 864pp.)
The Short of It:
A total departure from what King is typically known for, and not at all what I expected.
The Rest of It:
Jake Epping, thirty-five and writing his first novel, teaches GED courses at the local high school so he can make a few extra bucks. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives. One of his students writes about the murder of his family, at the hands of his own father. Jake is blown away by his essay and can’t get those horrible images out of his mind. Days later, Al, a long-time friend, asks Jake to visit him at the diner he owns. What Jake sees before him, is a very ill man. A dying man. Quite different from when he saw him just a few days before. Al explains that he is, in fact, dying from lung cancer and needs to ask a favor or Jake. In his storeroom, Al shows him a portal to the past and asks Jake to complete the task that he is now unable to carry out; preventing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The premise of this novel is so different from anything King has done before, that when I first heard about it, I immediately added it to my “want” list. Traveling back in time to change history has been done a million times before, but for some reason, I was looking forward to King’s attempt at it. Since the title of the book refers to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I naturally assumed that the bulk of the story would center around it. However, I was wrong on that count.
Although Jake’s entire reason for entering the portal is to prevent the assassination, the story quickly takes a turn and becomes something else entirely. Much of it, almost half of the book deals with trying to prevent his student’s family from being murdered. The rest of it is about the woman he meets while living in past and then there is the assassination attempt. Had this book been advertised differently, I think I would have enjoyed it more, but I was expecting to read more about the assassination attempt and a lot less about Jake’s romantic interest.
Was the story readable? Yes, but it lacked the character development that King’s books are known for. I found myself skimming, especially through the romantic bits because I just didn’t care for any of the characters and that pains me because I am a huge King fan. All in all, I can’t recommend this one. It lacked depth, focus and the character development that I’ve come to expect from King and left me very disappointed.
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