Things That I Liked:
King’s favorite literary devices are very present in this book, and I’m a sucker for them all. I will flat-out admit that I cried at the end of IT, and that to this day I can still recite the last sentence of that book without even needing to think too hard about it. King has his favorite devices, and he uses them, and gets me every time. I’m a sucker for the bittersweet (see: that last sentence of IT), for repetition, and for characters narrating the story to step away from the action and wax poetic. As with everything, your mileage may vary. I know a lot of people who won’t read King because of this sort of thing. Fair play to them.
King doesn’t try to muss around with the flimsy science behind the theory of time travel. I loved this. Yes, this may drive those of you who absolutely hate Back to the Future with a fiery passion crazy, but there are those of us capable of shrugging the illogic off and enjoying it for what it is. That’s me, and I loved how the idea of paradox is handled (not handled?) in the book:
“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?”
He stared at me, baffled. “Why the fuck would you do that?”
That was a good question, so I just told him to go on.
The premise. I know it might sound silly, but nowadays I find that I usually get excited over a book due more to who the author is than what it’s about. The way I read is to pick up a book at random, find I love the author’s voice and talent (or perhaps hate it and never touch a thing of theirs again no matter the plot), and want to read every other bit of writing they’ve done. At that point, I’m not quite as interested in whether or not their latest is a book that I’d pick up just based on the dust jacket if the author was unknown; I trust that my beloved author will turn a plot that might not knock my socks off into one of my favorite books of all time. So. When I heard that King had a book out about time travel and attempting to change the Kennedy assassination, I considered the various catastrophes that could “accidentally” befall every single person on the wait list before me at the library which might cause them to turn the book back in early.
Things That I Didn’t Like:
The ending. Yes! There! I said it. It had nothing to do with wanting to change what happened at the end of the book so much as how it was written. Upon a second reading, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but it just felt so rushed. It felt as if around about page 800, King saw the finish line and started to sprint for it before he decided to chuck the manuscript into the garbage instead of at his editor. Without spoiling whether or not “George” manages to complete his task, let’s just say the aftermath of the does-he-or-doesn’t-he could have been–should have been–more thoroughly explored.
Final Grade: An A-, which would have been a solid A, but I just can’t forgive the lost opportunities there at the end. Overall, I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. I also think that it’s one of King’s more accessible novels, and that’s really saying something at 800+ pages, so that weighed heavily in the grade as well. If you’ve never read King before because the Horror genre is not your thing, trust me. There may be shades of typical King here for us fans to delight in, but it’s a very “mainstream” book. Give it a shot!
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