11.22.63: A Novel

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Hodder & Stoughton, 2012 - Fiction - 740 pages

Now a major TV series from JJ Abrams and Stephen King, starring James Franco (Hulu US, Fox UK and Europe, Stan Australia, SKY New Zealand).

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . .

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense.

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I had no idea what to expect when I bought this as I knew it wasn't in his usual style or genre, but was pleasantly surprised at how cleverly written it is (no idea why I was surprised to be honest as I've read pretty much everything he's ever written) I was worried it may focus too much on the whole Kennedy assassination itself and would centre around just the events of that day of which there are millions of books already, but thankfully, although the whole story is a build up to that moment in history, and Oswald (not the main character) plays a massive part in the story, it's Kings introduction of other characters that makes this stand out from the rest. This book is their story and events in their lives that lead them to that fateful day. He is a master at character integration and this book is no exception to his skill. You end up feeling you know these people personally and want them to succeed in all the endeavours they participate in.
Without giving too much away (very difficult) this book does start in the present day and travels back to the late 50's/early60's. The journey and transition from the present to the past is very smooth and expertly written. Although I wasn't around in those times, his description makes it easy to believe you are there and his visual descriptions are wondrous.
As with most books there were chunks that I felt weren't needed; had they been taken out the story would have been none the worse for it; at the same time there were areas I personally felt needed more exploring and would have added greatly to the whole experience. The build up and narration to that fateful day is gripping and at times will have you on the edge of your seat willing the main character on; wanting him to change the course of history.
The only disappointment for me was the ending.. There is a point where it could have ended; I would have closed the book and gone "Wow.. amazing story"; however he chose to go just that little bit further (I'm assuming to tie up loose ends) but I feel in doing so he insulted the intelligence of his readers to make up their own conclusions to the final outcome. All in all though a cracking read
 

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The most captivating King book I've read. Though it is very different from his normal style, he does a great job of getting and keeping attention through all of the pages. As a regular Stephen King reader, I highly recommend this one.

About the author (2012)

Stephen King has written some fifty books and novellas, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are FULL DARK, NO STARS, UNDER THE DOME, JUST AFTER SUNSET, the DARK TOWER NOVELS and his acclaimed non-fiction book, ON WRITING. He won America`s prestigious National Book Award and was voted Grand Master in the 2007 Edgar Allen Poe awards. He lives with his wife, novelist Tabitha King, in Maine, USA.

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