11/22/63 – Review

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For a book as intricate and deeply plotted as 11/22/63, I’m not sure where I should begin with my review. I suppose I should state the obvious, I absolutely loved this book and it has become an instant favorite. I’m a huge fan of time-travel stories, many of my favorite books and movies are centered around this particular theme. When I discovered 11/22/63 included this element, along with the with the JFK assassination, I knew this would be a book geared toward my tastes. I’m fascinated by the “Kennedy Curse” and the family, including the assassination of JFK. I was eager to find out how Stephen King would spin the story involving such a monumental time in history and to find out if conspiracy theories would make appearances in this novel (another interest of mine).


Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

The book club I’m involved in chooses books by a fun list and this month’s pick was “A book with a number in the title”. 11/22/63 was an obvious choice for me and luckily my pick was randomly chosen. I’m hoping everyone will stick it out through this lengthy book until the end, for our discussion, because I think this is a really enjoyable and unique story.

I opted to listen to the audiobook of this novel because my local library’s copy was due back 2 years ago. Reserving it wasn’t going to work – thank you, irresponsible patron. Fortunately, the audiobook was astoundingly good. I didn’t want to stop listening to the story, thanks to Craig Wasson’s excellent narration. The voices he was able to use for varying characters were immersive and realistic in the best possible way. I felt as if I was living the story with Jake as he landed back in the late 50’s and as if I knew each character well. In fact, I enjoyed listening to the story so much, I fear no audiobook will be able to live up to the quality of this one! Devoting almost 31 hours of life to the listening of this story, there is no doubt I miss hearing what the characters are up to and what exciting thing will happen next. This was truly a book that could have gone on for weeks or months and the ending still would have come too soon.

One of my very favorite aspects of this story was the incredible research Stephen King put into this novel to make it as accurate as possible. Upon Jake’s first arrival back in time, I was fascinated and in awe of the descriptions of the differences between 2011 and 1958. Something as simple as Jake forgetting a modern penny in his pocket was a well-thought addition. King’s ability to nail the suspense of being the odd-man-out in a bygone era was adrenaline-inducing! I was constantly anxious Jake/George would somehow slip up and use his 2011-name, a modern word, or talk about something that hadn’t yet happened in the time he was visiting.

With long books like this one, I enjoy feeling like I am a part of the character’s life and routine. It takes a talented author to make day-to-day activities not feel repetitive, mundane, or boring. Obviously, the King is a king for a reason. His writing prowess knows no bounds.

When Jake/George approaches the date of the JFK assassination, I spent hours upon hours cleaning while listening to this story. At least one room in my house would be entirely spotless at a time – BONUS! The biggest mystery was still there, was Jake/George going to be able to save the President? And, if so, how would this affect the present? Going into this story mostly blind (I didn’t even know this was made into a Hulu series until I started listening), I had no clues about how the story would play out. As Jake/George’s romance with Sadie blossomed, I couldn’t help but wonder if his goal for coming to the past would be completely thwarted and almost hoping it would be. I’m a romantic at heart and wanted the two to live out their days in Jake’s past and Sadie’s present. The two of them were simply too good together for the romance to fizzle out.

In an attempt to avoid any spoilers, I will have to conclude my review here by saying, please do not let the length of this novel prevent you from picking up 11/22/63. It is a legendary work of art. It made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. Though this was only my second Stephen King novel, I have become almost obsessively fascinated with the author and can’t wait to dive into his brain more in the future. However, I’m afraid I am a too much of a chicken for horror stories, which may limit my choices. If anyone has recommendations for stories along the lines of The Green Mile or 11/22/63, please let me know in the comments! I might even buck up and read The Shining. I’ve been inside the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park countless times and I may finally need to know what the fuss is about after all.

Purchase on Amazon!


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