About a year ago I challenged myself to read every Stephen King novel (incase you were wondering he has written over 50 novels). Being a big fan of horror and reading and never having read anything he had ever written it felt like an obvious step that I would take eventually. Since then I have read the following books:
- Finders Keepers
- End of Watch
- Salem’s Lot
- The Shining
- Under The Dome
- The Gunslinger
The first one I read was 11/22/63. It tells the story of a man named Jake Epping who goes back in time to save JFK from being assassinated. Several people had already suggested I check the book out and told me a basic synopsis of what the book was going to be about, so I thought I knew what to expect going into it. I was wrong. I am going to try not to gush to hard about this book, but I loved every minute of it. This book, like so many others written by Stephen King, is very much about small town living (which I appreciate because I am a small town guy). I am only going to give a small recap of the book because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who is potentially going to read it or listen to it.
At the beginning of the story, Jake is a high school teacher, living in Libson Falls, Maine, who earns extra money teaching a GED class. In that class there is a man named Harry Dunning submits a truly heartbreaking story about how his father killed his entire family and severely injured Harry. The story, being something real, affects Jake and he befriends Harry after he receives his GED. To celebrate Jake takes him to Al’s Diner, a place hardly anyone goes because the food is so cheap that it surely cannot be real meat he is serving.
A couple years later is at Al’s diner again and Al asks him to stop by the next day, so Jake does and finds Al looking years older than he had the day before. Al tells Jake that he was dying and that his appearance was due to having time travelled and lived in the past for years. Not believing him Al makes Jake travel back in time. Jake does and spends about an hour in 1958. When he gets back Al tells him the basics of how it works:
- Always goes back to the same time.
- No matter how long you stay in the past only two minutes will have passed in the present.
- The past can be changed, but each time you go to the past it resets.
- The past is “obdurate”. It will throw obstacles at you trying to prevent you from doing what you want to do.
Al then tells Jake about his plan to go back in time to save JFK from being assassinated. Al tells Jake that he is going to have to go back in take his place. After an experiment of his own that would impact Harry, Jake gets back to the present and finds Al committed suicide, which makes him have to go back to the past to fulfill the job.
I am going to leave off a big chunk so I don’t spoil too much, but eventually Jake finds his way to Texas and makes a life for himself there. There are still a few years until 1963 so he settles down in a small town near Dallas and meets a woman named Sadie. This book is action packed, but at the end of the day it is a love story. It’s not always smooth sailing for the two lovebirds, though you will have to read or message me if you want the whole story.
As my introduction into Stephen King I think this was a perfect starter. It displays all of his talents and proves that this man is a master storyteller. Right from the get go you form an emotional bond with the characters. There were times where I was terrified, happy, and I’m not ashamed to admit I cried at the ending. Eventually, I will give you my thoughts on the Hulu adaptation of this, but until then this is truly a great book and would love for you to read it.
Length : 712 pages
Favorite Quote: The past is obdurate.
Each week I am going to rank the books in my favorite order.
Niles’ rankings of Stephen King books: