Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The ending to 11/22/63 was perfectly telegraphed from the beginning of the story, and yet I still found my heart pounding 150 pages from the end as I flipped pages, worrying what would happen. It sucked me in, and, though it took me almost two weeks to finish, it felt like it was over too soon.

There are a lot of things that I like about Stephen King. I like his conversational style, like he's sitting there next to your reading chair telling you this fantastic tale. I like that he uses the story-as-myth world-building to make all of his stories seem like another piece in puzzle that makes up the alternate dimension his brain unlocks. I love his creativity, from which are born narratives that are cogent and that come full circle without ever falling into the rut of predictability. I love that he makes one look at the everyday in an entirely different way. It's rarely something that's already frightening that becomes sinister, and rarely something shining and magical that becomes the key to the supernatural element.

I found references in 11/22/63 to It, Christine, "The Mangler" (a short story found in Night Shift), and, of course, the Dark Tower world. A person could get distracted tracking down all the instances of "19" or numbers that add up to 19 in 11/22/63 (and 1+9+6+3=19). I preferred not to slow down my reading to find them all.

I was surprised at how many of my questions were answered, how much of this bizarre world Stephen King was able to explain. I was gratified at how satisfying and appropriate the ending was. And, not that there's a lot of time travel fiction to set a precedent, but Stephen King very much made it his own in this book, with his own mythos and surrounding logic.

I also liked that King shied away from easy answers. Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't merely a soulless monster; King injected humanity into him, and chalked up the FBI's failure to peg him as a potential assassin to Oswald's charm, rather than incompetence. Even time's obduracy makes sense, by the end of the narrative.

In short, I liked it a lot.

I read this as part of a readalong on Feeding My Book Addiction, but I would've read it, anyway. My thoughts on parts 1 - 3 are here.

View all my reviews


  1. I've got this on my Kindle, but it's like a Mount Everest for me at the moment - 800 PAGES!!!

    1. I know. It felt like it took me forever to get through, looking back at how many books I could've read in that time. At the same time, it felt like it flew.

  2. Where was the reference to The Mangler? I noticed the car and the references from IT, but I didn't catch the mangler one. Thanks,

    1. I can't remember it too clearly, but Jake refers to the obdurate past as a hulking monster with sharp teeth that wants to eat him, like an old laundry machine. It was really subtle.