Review: 11.22.63 / Author: Stephen King / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton / Release Date: Out Now
11.22.63 is Stephen King’s latest adventure into the world of weird. Not a horror, that he has become so famous for penning but a science fiction themed thriller based around time travel and the assassination of JFK.
'The day that changed the world. What if you could change it back?'
Jake Epping is an everyday man, an English teacher at a high school and emotionally repressed, as accused by his alcoholic ex-wife. But when a friend and diner owner Al calls him at work one day, his whole life changes. Al is dying and Jake is the only person he feels he can trust with his secret. Al reveals a 'rabbit hole' back to 1958, located in the pantry of his diner. Jake takes his first trip back in time and falls in love with the sights, sounds, tastes (but not so much smells) of the 1950's. On his return, Al explains why he has shared his secret and what he believes needs to be done. Al asks Jake to return to the past and stop the assassination of President Kennedy and his theory is a convincing one. "If you ever wanted to change the world this is your chance. Save Kennedy, save his brother. Save Martin Luther King. Stop the race riots. Stop Vietnam, maybe.” All Jake has to do is go back, make one hundred percent sure that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting alone in the assassination and stop it happening. The butterfly effect from this could save thousands of lives. But then again, the butterfly effect is far from predictable.
I loved the idea of this novel, just from the blurb on the back. The questions of could you, should you and where would it all lead? For the first third of this lengthy novel (over 700 pages) I was completely gripped and I raced through pages, excited to discover more historical details, ethical minefields and the overall outcome. I am sorry to say though, that about a third of the way in, the stories overall feel changes into more of a romance, with what I thought would be the main story line, coming slightly second. Jake Epping continues to keep up with Oswald and knows many of his actions from notes Al has given him but the tension and intrigue that had been built at the beginning ebbed away. Instead it was replaced with another story line of Epping falling in love with the clumsy and emotionally scarred teacher, Sadie.
A couple of hundred pages later, the main story line does grab you once again and I found a couple of hours of my Saturday completely flew by as I really did want to know how it all panned out.
Over all I did enjoy this novel and I still think it is a great idea. I am sure many will find the middle of the book character strengthening but I just found it a little unnecessary. It is a really good read but if it was about two hundred and fifty pages sorter, it could have been a great one.