Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review | 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 is an epic time travel/historical fiction novel from Stephen King.

Book Description

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force. 

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment—a real life moment—when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history. 

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. 

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life – a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time. 

A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. - Paul Sweeney

It's been a long time since I've grieved this hard over finishing a book. 900 pages and I wasn't ready to leave. I finished reading 11/22/63 last night, and when I woke up this morning, I still wanted to cry.

11/22/63 brought me through an entire range of emotions: happiness, fear, sadness, nostalgia, goosebumps, laughter... I made friends, and I lost friends.

According to Goodreads, I've now read 43 Stephen King books. 11/22/63 is ranked as one of my favorites. If you're a fan of Stephen King, you can't not read this one.

Whether you're a King fan or not, 11/22/63 gets my highest recommendation. Be sure to let me know when you do read 11/22/63. I'd love to hear your thoughts. It will hold me over until I read it again.

10/10: Awesome

Are you a King fan? Have you read 11/22/63?

This post is being shared as part of The Stephen King Project.


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  1. I found it lagged a bit in the middle (so much that I put it down for a few weeks), but the first half was very well done, and the latter half more than redeemed itself before the end.

    I liked the way he wrapped things up, particularly with that first Twilight Zone type ending - that, right there, validated the entire read for me.

  2. You know I've never even read a Stephen King book! I should really give one a try. This one sounds really good!!

    Xpresso Reads

  3. I stayed up waaaaay too late finishing this last night. I got to about page 700 (in the hardcover version), and then I couldn't stop. My heart was pounding, my palms got sweaty, and I didn't think I could sleep if I put it down.

  4. I was bored in the first 50 pages and put it down. But I've been seeing a lot of reviewers I admire giving the book it's props. I'll have to pick it up again, sooner rather than later.

  5. I just finished this book 20 min. ago and I also feel like I lost a friend. MINOR SPOILER The beating twist made me super angry END SPOILER but in the end I thought it was an awesome book, this coming from a guy who's read maybe three-four King books.

    I'm looking at my library trying to find out what to read next, a rebound book if you will :-)

  6. Bob - I'm curious if the part that lagged for you is the same part Steve mentions in his spoiler comment? Feel free to stop back by on January 31. I'll be having a spoiler post/discussion that day.

    Giselle - This is a perfect Stephen King book to start with. I think you'll love it.

    Alice - I know what you mean! I practically passed out the night before reading it so late! :)

    Andrew - I was hooked from the start. I just pulled my copy off the shelf to see where page 50 would land me. I can say I was definitely in love and having goosebumps by page 78. If you're not feeling it, you're not feeling it. Maybe you'll have more luck next time, though.

    Steve - I didn't enjoy that part of the book. I think it was a necessary evil to bring us up to 11/22/63, but that was my least favorite part. And I guess the past is obdurate. ;) I get in a reading funk every time I read something great. I think it helps to pick something short to try to get over the hurdle.

  7. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the sagging part Bob talks about is when George/Jake just observes Lee Harvey Oswald going about his day life. I thought it bordered on boring as well...

  8. Oh, OK. That's certainly possible. I guess I was enjoying speculating when Jake was in Dallas. I did enjoy when Jake was in Jodie more, but that's because I was in love with every character except for LHO.

  9. I've never read Stephen King. I know crazy. I'm adding this one to my list for sure. I can't pass up such a recommendation. 900 pages and you were still sad when it was over! I'm inspired.

  10. I got this book unexpectadly as a Christmas present. I've read King's Dark Tower series but not much else. Glad to hear such a positive review. I'm looking forward to reading it now. Thanks!

  11. Alexis - As much as you love historical fiction, I think you'd love it. You are definitely someone I would recommend it to.

    Small - Great Christmas present! You have nothing to lose. :)

  12. King is hit or miss for me, but this one has had such great reviews that I'm going to have to check it out.

  13. This book is currently on the holdshelf through the library...:) I hope to get it in a couple month if I am lucky. I am 46 out of 46..I will keep my fingers crossed:)

    I have heard nothing, but great things about the King novel..well that is usual with Stephen King.

  14. Clint - I hope you get a chance to read it soon. It reads fast despite being so long. Hopefully they won't keep you waiting too long.

  15. I'm so glad you are part of the challenge and I know I will get some great recommendations from you since you are such an avid fan of King!

  16. I really enjoy Stephen King books. The last book of his I read was The Dome and I loved it. Even being as huge as it is, I read it in 2 days! I have this book and I am hoping to read it soon. Thanks for the great review!

  17. I cried, CRIED at the end of this one. I loved everything about this book and wish I could revisit the story yet again so the emotions would be brand new for me. I never thought I'd get so choked up from reading Stephen King's books, since I didn't associate him with anything other than horror, so this one was a perfect book for me to read as a new Stephen King fan.

    Thanks for joining The Project, can't wait to see the other books of King's that you read this year!

  18. Thanks Kathleen!

    Amy - I'm hoping to finally read Under the Dome this year. I can't wait to hear what you think of 11/22/63.

    Natalie - I was surprised at how emotional I was when I finished. This was a great book for you to read! There are a lot of valid reasons for King to be so popular. I hope I can read a few more this year. We'll see!

  19. I loved the book, and cried at the end.


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