Leaving behind a world of computers and mobile phones, he goes back in time to a time of big American cars and diners, of Lindy Hopping, the sound of Elvis and the taste of root beer,
In this haunting world Jake falls in love with Sadie, a beautiful high school librarian. And, as the ominous date of 11.22.63 approaches, he encounters a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.
This sizeable novel from the wordy wordsmith himself, Mr King has so much of everything in it. The inexactness of that statement is accurate as the number of little details is vast, and as such I read this book with a huge amount of appreciation.
I avoided this book for a long time because, for me a time travel story and King just didn’t seem to gel together in my mind but once I started reading, I thought it worked really well. The element of ‘how would I exploit the past if I could time travel’ is explored = and takes the focus off of the main plot, which itself flows logically and languidly (a good thing) according to the rules set out.
When all else fails, give up and go to the library
Jake is often just as focussed on the smaller picture as much as his larger mission, and it is fascinating to get caught up in, as does he. There is the usual whole heap of nostalgia which the author always excels at, allowing the reader to feel like they miss that time and place, despite many not having lived through it. There is a brief cameo from some of the characters of IT, as well as a couple of Dark Tower references, which is pleasing to those knowledgeable but won’t make any difference to those not familiar with the particular works.
The clarity of place and side characters really brings authenticity to the story and the time. In fact the side characters really are interesting and often relegate the main plot into the background for a while, where it remains brooding and biding its time. The mixture of its dark nature crossed with poignancy is finely balanced. When it needs to, the story oozes sinister, the horror here is the real, the actions of humans, not something ghoulish, but this is also what adds to its poignancy.
Life turns on a dime
As ever with such books, the question of the moral right to kill (previously explored in his earlier work, The Dead Zone), the implications of, and consequences of such actions is examined. What is clear throughout is that consequences have further consequences. Both in fiction and reality, interaction is already a consequential reaction from previous interaction and here (if successful), would the world be better for it?
The ending was a little weak, after the detailed build up it felt somewhat truncated but nevertheless 11.22.63 is worth reading all the way to the end, and for the length of it I finished it quickly. Sometimes the book has less of a focused feel and whilst that may bother some, I am always happy to sink into King’s creations for as long as possible. I loved the world and the journey, and had a thoroughly enjoyable time with it.