Review: The Shining (audio)

The Shining

The Shining (audio)
By Stephen King, Read by Campbell Scott
Random House Audio, 15 hours, 49 min (unabridged)

The Short of It:

A decent audio production but the pace was slow, the kid wasn’t as weird as in the movie and it seemed mild in comparison to King’s other books.

The Rest of It:

I don’t want to come off as being a King know-it-all because there are lots of other fans that eat and breath King, but I have read a fair number of his books and this is one case where the movie was much better. If you are not familiar with the story, here is a brief description.

Jack Torrance has a drinking problem and although he has given up the drink, he still struggles daily with being dry. He is married to Wendy and they have a six-year-old son, Danny. Danny is a special boy. He possesses the ability to see into the future but when his father accepts a position as a caretaker of an isolated Colorado hotel in the dead of winter, Danny’s visions become more sinister in nature and the idea of them living there all winter and all by themselves is almost too much for Danny and Wendy to imagine. However, Jack is working on a play, and the quiet isolation is what he needs to finish it, so they pack up and head out. What they don’t know, is that something terrible happened there years ago. Something that will come back to haunt them.

The Overlook - Danny Torrance

Scared yet?

The premise itself is scary as hell. Taking care of a gigantic hotel in the middle of winter without anyone around you is a bit intimidating. The audio version of the book doesn’t play up this aspect too well. The narration is good but the content itself is not all that dramatic and there are long periods of nothing in between the somethings. That’s hard enough in print but on audio, I found myself having to go back because I cruised through several chapters without really knowing what was going on. This was a bit frustrating. I listened to it as part of the #shineon read-along and it seemed as if I was always behind the others since I had to go back and forth so much.

ShineOn Read Along

For the audio book version to have worked for me, I would have needed the following:

  • A creepier Danny. 
  • A meaner, nastier Jack Torrance.
  • A Wendy with a bit more oomph. She reminded me of white bread. Boring.
  • More isolation. There were too many visits to the store and too many phone calls.
  • Less hedge action, which is different than the hedge action seen in the movie.
  • More of the freakin’ hotel! It lives and breathes in the movie.
  • More cold. More music to set the tone.

Look what Jill sent me when I signed up for the read-along. My own special #shineon glasses. The Otter Pup jumped in for the photo. She wants her own glasses.

My ShineOn Glasses

I thought at first that my love of the movie, tainted my opinion of the book but I don’t think so. Others that have not seen the movie have said the same thing. It’s a snoozefest. That said, I now appreciate the movie version even more and can’t wait to see it again.

Doctor Sleep, King’s sequel to The Shining comes out this September 20th. Will I read it? You bet.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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26 thoughts on “Review: The Shining (audio)”

  1. This is surprising! I would have thought this was one of King’s best. Let’s not forget that Joey had to put this bad boy in the freezer! But, I guess, sometimes the story doesn’t live up to the hype, which has a life of its own. Had the recording been creepier, do you think that would’ve made a difference?

    Speaking of King, I watched the most entertaining graphic/short film of a short story he wrote in 2008 for Just Before Sunset. If you google “NisHere” it should come up. It’s 25 episode series, approximately 2 minutes per episode of his short story N. It’s really entertaining, and very creepy.

    1. LOL. I had forgotten about the Joey/freezer thing! Had the audio been creepier, the experience would have been better but the plot was still so mild compared to his other works. He alludes to things and King is known for laying it on the table, wide open. Plus, Jack Torrance was not mean enough. You didn’t get the feeling that he was utterly possessed like you did from the movie. The movie was a slow build and the audio tried, but there were too many interactions with the outside world to make it scary. Production wise, I would have added some music or something to build up the suspense a bit.

  2. It seems I’ve got a bit more love for this book than most others. It wasn’t as blatantly scary as some of his other books…it was more subtle, with a gradual building of tension. There was definitely more character building going on here than in the movie, and I was really shocked at how much the movie actually was changed from the book (some for the better, some not). I would have to agree that Campbell Scott did not do the story justice.

  3. I loved the movie, and thought it was scarier than hell, but the book sounds as if there just wasn’t enough holding it together to make it really creepy. I am not sure that I would read this one based on the comments that I have seen around the web, because I want my first King book to be a knockout, and not slow and plodding. I am thinking about reading Under the Dome with everyone though!

  4. Uggggh, it lost my comment. Now if I can only remember all that I said. Lol.

    I tried listening to this audio a while back and just couldn’t get into it. Like you said I found it too slow paced. I’ve watched the movie more times than I can count and I love it but I don’t think that’s what turned me off the audio. In the movie it seems creepy right from the start with the music and all – the book didn’t have that. Maybe a more dramatic narration would make a difference. Of course I didn’t get too far in the audio so maybe it changed but I doubt it.

  5. I read The Shining long before seeing the movie, and I agree here that the movie is far better, though it could be because Nicholson is incredibly freaky! I cannot wait to see what the sequel entails!

  6. I just posted my review for the #shineon as well. I’m glad I didn’t read the audio version, because I think the print worked better. The tension built really well. My dog tried to get his own pair of glasses too!

  7. Another for the list of film is better! I was tempted to read this one, as I’m quite intrigued by the sequel, but I’ve seen the film so many times I think I may skip the book (egads!) and just read the sequel. And I’ll definitely opt for print over audio!

  8. I do love the move and will never tire of it. I really missed all the cold, snow and sense of isolation in this book. I did think the audio was good (albeit long) – finished the last disc on my way home from work today.

    Dying for Doctor Sleep’s debut.

    BTW..The glasses are adorable on you…LOL

  9. I’ve got to watch the movie again, now that I’ve finally read the book and posted my wrap-up for the Readalong. I haven’t read many of Stephen King’s early books, but I’ve read most of the later ones (starting with Lisey’s Story). I liked The Shining and it gave me chills reading it, but I do remember the movie as being extremely scary.

    1. I read a lot of his stuff while in college. All his old stuff: Cujo, Pet Cemetery, Salem’s Lot, The Stand, It, The Tommyknockers, etc. I LOVED them all. I sped through them and since then, I have re-read some of them and although they don’t impress me as much as they did back then, I still enjoy them. I did like enjoy the books he wrote after his accident. They seemed different so I was glad when Under the Dome came out. It was the first book that had that signature King style that I missed post accident. Ti

      Visit my blog: Book Chatter

  10. Will this book help me get back into reading? I’m in no rut now, just going through a hobby-phase but I need a book that will make me read more. Maybe I should give it a try.

    1. I’m not sure. I’ll tell you what though, I picked up a story collection called This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky and I could not put it down. I was also in a hobby phase but it grabbed my attention and the stories are short.

    1. We should produce King’s next audio book! Screaming, music…and grunts and groans galore. I always think footsteps are scary too. The ka-plunk set to the right music would be terrifying!

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