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11/22/63’s Back-of-Book Description
One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco
ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?
In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
Alright, guys… I do not like to be scared. My friends know this about me – I don’t even like to go to scary movies, nevermind sitting and reading something scary for hours and days on end. Because of this, I had never read a Stephen King book. Until now!
I also don’t have Hulu, so I never heard of the show that this book was based on. But someone I work with was talking about it and how good the show was, and I thought hmm…I bet that’s a better book. So I ordered 11/22/63 on Amazon the next day, but when it came in I saw that it was nearly 900 pages! Nearly NINE HUNDRED PAGES! So I set that sucker aside until I was ready for that kind of commitment.
Fast forward to January 2nd of this year. I was ready for a new book, I had a few weeks before my new MBA classes started, and I figured it was time to dive in.
You guys… once I picked it up and started reading, I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t put it down! His writing was so natural and captivating, I was in a permanent state of “what’s going to happen next?!” I finished all eight-hundred and something pages in fifteen days. (I know, I’m very behind in posting this). I wanted to spend every free moment I had reading the book.
The detail in the setting descriptions was perfect – I had no trouble envisioning the small towns and the 1950’s and 1960s decor and automobiles. He also did a pretty good job describing the outfits people were wearing – I think that was a nice touch.
His character development was top-notch. He really took the time to slowly let the reader get to know all the main characters and see them from all sides. Whether or not you’ve read any of his books, you may have seen movies or shows based on Stephen King’s books. and the central aspect of them all (besides being scary) is the amazing character progressions. And the dialogue between characters was natural and completely plausible.
And – get this – while there were some creepy/gruesome scenes, 11/22/63 was not scary at all. I would not categorize this as horror at all! It’s just a fun and exciting historical fiction, I suppose.
Honestly, every aspect of this book was just simply delightful. It was so enjoyable and immersive – I really felt like I was living this adventure with the main character. I was so wrapped up in the activity and emotion of the book, I was literally crying by the end.
Buy it now!
Favorite Quotes From 11/22/63
“Sometimes life coughs up coincidences no writer of fiction would dare copy.”
“When all else fails, give up and go to the library.”
“…the scholar’s greatest weakness: calling hesitation research.”
“Explanations are such cheap poetry.”
“Discretion is the better part of valor.”
“Stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”
“Never underestimate the American bourgeoisie’s capacity to embrace fascism under the name of populism. Or the power of television.”
“The multiple choices and possibilities of daily life are the music we dance to.”
Amazing, top-notch. I’m giving it 4.5 stars – with the only deduction being that it probably could have been a bit shorter. But it was so good, length and all. And then – after I had finished it – I watched the show on Hulu. Guys…. compared to the book, the show sucked. It was totally different and just nowhere near as good.
So do yourself a favor and read 11/22/63 and recommend it to anyone who likes fiction, history, a bit of time travel, and hey – even romance!
in the meantime, please also recommend to me any other Stephen King books that are not terrifying. because now that I’ve read this one, I want to read more of his writing. But I don’t want to be too scared.