This was my first foray into the world of Stephen King’s books. I know, I know. It’s Stephen King. Stephen King. I’ve seen a couple of movies based on his work – the fabulous Stand By Me, which I loved, and Dreamcatcher, which was super weird (though it was mildly redeemed with the casting of Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids On The Block as Duddits). I think my main issue is that I don’t like anything too disturbing or weird or gory, so novels like Carrie never really appealed to me.
But when my dad raved so much about this particular Stephen King novel, and assured me that the blood, guts, alien invasions and random chainsaw massacres were kept to a minimum, I thought I might as well give it a try.
I’m really glad I did, because I liked this book. It’s HUGE – about 850 pages long – but it’s so readable and easy that I actually polished it off in about a day and a half (what? It’s the holidays!). The likeable protagonist Jake Epping is a mid-30s high school English teacher in sleepy Maine who manages to figure out a way to travel back through a portal in the local diner to 1958, where he and the owner of the local diner attempt to stop the Kennedy assassination. The best part? You can make repeat visits through the portal – so if you mess up, all you need to do is go back and try again.
I loved all the late ’50s and early ’60s nostalgia (I’ve always wanted to time travel to the days of sock hops, Elvis and diners that sell pies by the slice), and I loved the exploration of all the risks and rewards that go along with travelling in time. There was plenty of suspense, a little love story and a couple of dramatic rescues. There is a little bit of violence, but it’s light – and because it’s couched in the cloud of time travel, it didn’t bother me as much as it might have otherwise.
I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got through this one, and how much I liked it. I also think it has the potential to make a great movie, so I hope that happens at some point too.