I have been putting off publishing this review for so long. It’s just been lying in my drafts and I have read it time and again, wondering why it just doesn’t seem right. You know, it’s difficult to write a review that does justice to such a long book – long, not only because of the number of pages, but because of the content. Let’s just say, your everyday non-Stephen King author could have easily made three books out of it – for instance, a love story, a science fiction book and a historical fiction novel.
Now I have decided to scrap the “About the book + Summary + My Thoughts” review format and write this instead. I have just read horror fiction by Stephen King, along with a couple of non-fiction books. I haven’t read the Dark Tower series, so I had no idea what to expect from a combination of science fiction and King. I read about King’s upcoming book on New York Times and I just had to get my hands on it; which I did manage to, thanks to someone who (apparently) noticed my silent plea in the form of a Facebook link of the review.
Anyway, right from the cover, the book is fascinating. The first thing that caught my attention were the lines: The day that changed the world. What if you could change it back?
And that is basic plot of the book. The “What If?” When Jake Epping is led to a time portal by one of his friends, when he is asked to go back in time, to Dallas, to the day that changed the world, and save John Kennedy – what does Jake Epping do? Does Jake Epping decide to take the fate of the world in his hands and stop JFK’s assassination? Can he go through with his plan?
Like I said, 11.22.63 is not just science fiction. It’s one of those very long stories by Stephen King that you wouldn’t want to carelessly throw into one genre. Jake Epping is a very lovable old character. He is an English teacher from Maine, with a failed marriage, and not much to look forward to in this time. When he discovers the time portal, the ‘rabbit-hole’ as it is called, he finds a purpose. I mean, really, wouldn’t you say yes if someone proposed the idea of going back and changing history? And how bad could it be? – in case of this rabbit-hole, whatever time (weeks or years) you go back for, when you return, you have always only been away for two minutes. There’s a catch of course, but Epping doesn’t know it yet…
Saying anything else would qualify as a writing a spoiler, and I try to avoid that. In the rest of the book, you watch (well, read) history unfold. I have always loved Stephen King’s characters, but this is one book where I appreciated the scenery just as much. You feel as if you are experiencing history along with the lead character (Epping, who now prefers to be called George Amberson.) The romance, though quite natural for such a book about time travel, did get a little too soppy for my taste for a while. The explanation for the concept of time travel and the rabbit-hole, which is not revealed till the very end, is very intriguing – actually, it is also a bit confusing, I had to re-read it a couple of times.
Along with everything else in the book (the Sci-Fi, romance and history) there is that suspense that builds up until the very end. The What If? That’s what kept my nose buried in the book throughout – even through those few parts that seemed sort of unnecessary. King surprised me till the very end, when I decided I already knew what was going to happen, when I decided it was now sort of obvious… the surprises kept coming.
The ending is lovely, if you do ever decide to read the book (and I think you should!) don’t give up halfway through. Even though the length is intimidating, the end is worth it.