I have been trying to read more of Stephen King for so long, I just can’t see to find the right time to pick up one of his books. There’s also the fact that I’ve seen the movie It and the thought of reading that in bed would keep me awake. After hearing 11.22.63 recommended on a podcast I thought this would be a tamer book of his to begin with.
11.22.63 is a memorable day in history as it marks the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, yet in this book Stephen King challenges what life would be like if Oswald was stopped and Kennedy survived. Following Jake Epping who is contacted by his friend Al to meet him in his diner, he is surprised to see Al has aged by years and is unwell. Al has to pass on his knowledge of a portal that he discovered in his pantry and that allows him to return to 1958 where he has tried numerously to stop the Kennedy assassination in 1963. Due to his ill health he had to return to the present time and find someone willing to step into his shoes and Jake is the man for it.
This is a very well researched book down to the very description of a root beer in the fifties. The plot is filled with descriptions and I could see every street that Jake walked down, although some books that are description heavy can be dense and hard to follow, the heavy detail was desired in this plot and set the scene for each year that Jake was in. Car’s, ideas and music were included for each era and it made the book more of a visual aspect complimenting the powerful writing.
Jake is a dominant character in this book and yet I am still unsure whether I really like him. In some aspects he is realistic, yet he can also come across as bit fantastical too. Then again what more could I want from a novel about time travel, it’s not going to be relatable. However some of his actions were questionable and his dedication to the task despite wondering why he is doing it on numerous occasions made me question him. I can’t fully understand his motives behind going back in time because the opening of the book doesn’t make clear just how friendly Jake and Al are and I saw them more as casual acquaintances. It was interesting to see him leave behind a life in the present time and easily slide himself into a new life in 1958 and stay there until 1963. I actually quite enjoyed the romantic element to this novel because originally I didn’t expect it to have a love interest in the mix. Yet it lightened the mood and the harsh hatred of a past time that still had racism and sexism more frequently than it features today.
I cannot understand why people have such an issue with Stephen King’s writing because I have to be honest it was phenomenal in this book. He is a very high quality and inventive writer who shouldn’t be just categorised for his horror and sci-fi pieces of work despite their popularity. I would count this book as historical fiction and he proves that this is an area he has a real talent in too.
Despite not having read many Stephen King books in my life I have to say it will be easy to become a big fan after this book. It is a beast of a book at 800 pages and small writing on each of them, but despite my hesitations at the start I lost myself in the plot and didn’t notice the time flying by. I gave 11.22.63 a 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads and it has not only persuaded me to read more by King but also more historical fiction novels.