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11/22/63 – Stephen King

Plot Synopsis [GoodReads]:

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?

Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor’s story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father. On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock’n’roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts. Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?

There is so much to talk about with this book but I don’t want to reveal even the smallest bit of plot detail in case it spoils the surprise for yourself when/ if you happen to read this book.

I think before I go into any details regarding “11/22/63” I was to give a brief history of my relationship with Stephen King books. I read “Carrie” before I read Harry Potter [around age 11], alongside “The Tommyknockers” [admittedly, I didn’t finish that one], “Rose Madder,” “Dreamcatcher,” and have tried to read many others but seem to get distracted in one form or another. I find that King books need a level of concentration, and to be in the right frame of mind in order to commit to reading the whole book.

“11/22/63” has been on my to-read list for a long time, and after the sheer awfulness’ of “Clockwork Angel” I knew that it was time to pick up this particular book and read. I am so glad that I did – this is not a typical Stephen King book at all. This is not a horror book, although there are a few particularly horrific acts – not many though – it’s also not a particularly gory, or, it should be added is it particularly fast paced.

It was a completely absorbing book, one that I couldn’t stop thinking about, and even know I can’t help but think about it. About not only the world that the main character Jake Epping came from, and , but also the main plot of the book – to save JFK from assassination, and to ensure either way whether Oswald was working alone or with someone else. Fictional counter-factual history is a genre that I have always been interested in, and I just don’t think that I have read anything like this at all.

Things that I like about this book [without giving away the plot]:

–          Time travel. I’m a huge lover of time travel fiction.

–          Not typical SK horror fiction

–          A large part of the story was a love story

–          The mission – and how the “past” was its own character and what this meant for Jake Epping.

–          What the potential consequences of changing the past – just what would have happened had JFK not been shot?

I think it is a really intriguing question one that will – obviously – never be answered.

The scope of this book is huge, and I have to say that the one bit that annoyed me the most, perhaps, was the frequent mention of the “blue haze of smoke so consistent of the age” or some such. There was a lot of smoking, and I understood that, but I didn’t need reminding every few pages.

This is a book that I hope to re-read again in the future. It was just that good, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a change of pace for sure.

Take it easy folks,