I really wanted to do a review of a movie first, but as it turns out, I finished my book! I was intrigued by the idea of this book, 11/22/63 from Stephen King. I have pretty much read everything by Stephen King. I had resisted reading The Dark Tower series. It’s one of those things where I feel like I’m going to hate something just because I have a strange idea in my head. I’m convinced I hate sci-fi. Now, I am not keen on reading stories about fantasy (other than reading J.R.R. Tolkien years ago), but I actually like most sci-fi. So, I gave up the fight and started the series. I LOVED IT! If you ever have a summer with nothing to do, I suggest reading these books. Word of caution: the author writes himself into the story. He becomes a character. But I digress… This Stephen King book is in the realm of sci-fi and not his normal weird/monsters.
The general idea of the novel is that a fry cook goes to his friend, a teacher, and tells him about a soft spot in the space/time continuum. This soft spot allows the person to travel back in time to 1958, but the EXACT same time in 1958 no matter how many times this person goes over, comes back and then goes back again. In discovering this soft spot, the fry cook uses the time travel to get cheap meat and to see if he can change history. He tries first with a small thing, trying to save a girl from becoming paralyzed by a hunter, but soon realizes that he can do so much more. He uses his time to learn about Lee Harvey Oswald and if he acted alone in killing Kennedy. The fry cook couldn’t continue on his mission as he ended up with cancer. So, he recruited Jack Epping to continue his mission.
Jake goes over for a mission to try to save a man’s family that was to be killed by the man’s father. He is successful in saving all of them except the eldest brother. Jake comes back to present time to find out that the man has now died in this new time line. So, he goes back in time again, and instead of waiting to the night of the killing, he kills the father before anything can happen. Jake continues on his journey and makes his way to Florida, then on to Texas. He settles in a small town called Jodie, where he meets his love, Sadie. This is where things start to go awry. Jake wants to be with Sadie, but can’t tell her anything about himself. Plus, he can’t commit to teaching/being in Jodie full time as he’s on a mission to figure out if Oswald acts alone and to stop the assassination of JFK. Jake puts Sadie before the mission and ends up potentially compromising finding out if Oswald works alone. Then some BAD things happen to Jake. A recurring theme in the book is that history both repeats itself and dos not want to be changed. You will have to read the book to find out what happens.
Again, I really liked this book. The idea of time travel and string theory, of changing small things in history creating multiple similar time lines is an amazing concept. But, these ideas aren’t fully explored to the VERY end of the novel. There are men that keep watch over the portal and finally make contact, real contact with Jake at the end of the story, explaining to him about string theory and how both he and the fry cook have created multiple timelines. This is a shame. I wish King had explored this idea sooner. Yes, Jake talked about the Butterfly Effect with the cook, but I felt that the love story and the story of Oswald became more important than the science fiction part of the book. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe this book was just supposed to be a good story. I just feel that a book being over 800 pages should have more “meat” to it.
If you like King’s books, you will like this book. But, if you are expecting a science fiction novel, this isn’t necessarily your book.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5