I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since those long ago days before I started writing. He has a way of sweeping you up into whatever world he’s created, and 11/22/63 is no exception.
I’ve always loved scary movies, always been willing to follow a storyteller into dark and frightening places. Stephen King can make me believe. I adored THE STAND, THE TALISMAN, (showing I’m fearless when it comes to taking on long page count as well as subject matter) and the short story THE BODY. I admit a couple of his more recent novels lost me, but with 11/22/63 he won me back again. It’s an interesting amalgam of history, time travel, nostalgia, and of course, character study.
I read 11/22/63 on my Kindle, and although the novel weighs in at around 1000 pages, the page count never crossed my mind. It probably helped that I didn’t have to heft all 1000 when reading in bed, but the fact that Mr. King could keep me intrigued had a great deal to do with it. However, as I reflected back on this book once I’d finished reading it, there was one section I felt could have benefited from a little nip and tuck.
In 11/22/63 high school teacher, Jake Epping is drafted by an acquaintance of his who has found a “rabbit hole” to the past. Every time you emerge into the past, it’s exactly the same time on the same day in the same place (September, 1958) while present time never passes more than two minutes, no matter how long the sojourn to the past lasts. The friend’s mission to save JFK from his fatal encounter with Lee Harvey Oswald had been cut short by terminal cancer. He drafts Jake to complete the task. The plan had been to remove Oswald from the equation entirely. However, before acting Jake needed to be completely certain that Oswald acted alone.
Naturally, when you mess with the past, the future suffers unintended consequences. Jake is faced with choices that will affect the entire world, as he knew he would be. But he’s surprised by the personal choices he’s forced to make. All in all, it’s a complex and interesting glimpse into a possibility I’m glad we don’t have available to us.