This is one thick book, coming in just shy of 850 pages, and I won't lie, it's not my favorite work by Stephen King but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The story is about Jake Epping, a single schoolteacher who finds a portal to 1958 in the back of a diner and sets out on a mission to save John F. Kennedy's life on November 22, 1963. There's a love story running right through the center of the story, and this I think is one of the only faults in the book, because the love story part runs a bit on the long side and bogs the main tension line down. The ending is somewhat unexpected and bittersweet--what is with Mr. King writing tearjerkers of late? On the whole, a good book with some surprises, good, bad, and ugly.
I had kind of given up on Stephen King - I believe the last novel of his I tried to read was "Lisey's Story" a few years ago which I couldn't finish. I loved all of his earlier works including "Salem's Lot," "Carrie," "The Shining," "The Stand," and on and on, but some of his later stuff just didn't do it for me. But when I first heard about "11/22/63" and its premise of going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, I had to read it! I got a copy as a Christmas gift and I was not disappointed. This has to be one of King's best books since "The Stand" - I loved every word of it (and that's a lot of words - almost 850 pages worth)! I was 13 in 1963 when Kennedy was killed and I actually remember thinking at the time that it would be nice to go back and prevent the killing - it really was like a bad dream. King's book uses this idea and the resulting novel is all that you could ask for in a time travel story. Some of it was reminiscent of the "Back to the Future" movies including using known sporting events results as a betting tool to make money. It also reminded me a little of "It's a Wonderful Life" and how changes can effect other events and people's lives. Along the way in this novel, King takes us back to Derry, Maine and the events of his novel "It". He then provides a myriad of information about Lee Oswald and his wife Marina, and the events leading to 11/22/63. The novel also includes a great love story and the ending I thought was near perfect. This is the first book I have read in 2012 and I doubt I will read a better one this year - very high recommendation!
It was better than I expected. Main character Jake/George was well written. Book was way too long could have cut 25% and not missed much. Worse thing was I had a pretty good idea how it was going to end. Last chapter was charming though. Read Stepehn King's afterward at end of book it was very interesting.
First Line: I have never been what you'd call a crying man.
That's what high school English teacher Jake Epping will tell you, if you were to ask. But while grading essays, he's blown away by what GED student and janitor Harry Dunning has written. Somehow, some way, fifty years ago Harry survived his father's sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is still thinking how life can turn on a dime when he learns of an even more bizarre secret: Al, owner of the local diner and Jake's friend, wants Jake to take over his obsession. Many years ago Al discovered a time portal in the diner's storeroom, and he's been trying ever since to prevent the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Jake allows himself to be persuaded, and when he steps through the portal, he finds himself in the era of Elvis, cheap gasoline, and almost universal cigarette smoking. Jake has plenty of time to start a new life in small town Texas, but each day draws him nearer to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. Will he be able to accomplish what Al tried and failed to do? And if he does stop the assassination of the president, what sort of consequences will there be?
I have to admit that I held off reading this book for a long time. I was in third grade when JFK was assassinated. Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news. For reasons that don't need to go into a book review, this event hit my mother and I hard, and I was reluctant to rip the Band-aid off that particular wound, even if it had healed long ago.
I should not have worried, and I should not have waited. This book has very little to do with JFK and everything to do with Jake Epping. Stephen King's main character takes us all on a nostalgic yet honest journey through America during the end of the Eisenhower administration. Everything is brought to life in vivid and loving detail. I enjoyed reliving the era of my childhood, but as I read, I found myself thinking more about recent American history, its might-have-beens... and about love.
Few writers can immerse me in their fictional worlds so completely as does Stephen King. No matter how strange, King creates characters and backdrops that are familiar and that I can trust-- which is a very good thing because I need someone/something trustworthy at my back while I'm reading to figure out how to escape his weirdness!
If you've been postponing reading this book for the same reasons I did, you can stop. When you read 11-22-63, you're going to read a lot more about love than you will about bullets and lone gunmen.
I thought this book had a wonderful premise and I was excited to read it. Parts of it were good but overall, I have to say I was disappointed. It could have ended several hundred pages before it did. I thought maybe there would be some new or different insights on Kennedy's assassination or the circumstances surrounding it but there were none. I found the ending weak. I had invested so much time in the book (it is over 800 pages) that I was determined to finish it, but it got to be more of a chore than an enjoyable read. Not a favorite of mine.