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11/22/63, by Stephen King
Genre: Alternate History
Publisher: Scribner
Published: 2011
Review Posted: 12/19/2014
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

11/22/63, by Stephen King

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

Not that Stephen King needs the reviews, but . . .
The premise:  Jake Epping finds a time bubble that takes him back to 1958.  While there, he discovers that he can change his own past by altering the course of the history while he's in the past, even if the timeline doesn't want to be changed.  With the best of intentions in mind, Jake travels back to 1958 with the intention of living there and stopping the JFK assassination . . . but he'll discover that time is obdurate and is willing to throw every obstacle it can in front of him.
I enjoyed this book.  I thought the time bubble that takes Jake back to the past was an interesting set-up in terms of how it worked (that every time it's used, whatever you changed the last time you used it is reset, etc.) and what its limits were.  I liked Jake and the conflict that gets established--between finishing what he went into the past to do (stop the JFK assassination) and his own personal interests after he's lived in the past long enough to have set himself up with his own life there.  That conflict creates some great personal tension for him.  As usual, King is great at bringing out the lives of the people in that era, both the good and the bad, so that you feel as if you've lived in that town with these people your entire life.  That personal touch with the characters is definitely King's strength, in any of his novels.
I also thought the twist in the resolution of the book was great, the inner turmoil and the difficult to accept realization that Jake must come to.  You can feel his anguish at the end, even though you know what he has to do.  A great ending.
My only issue with the book was that, after Jake jumps to the past with the goal of stopping the assassination, there's a lull in the pace and action of the book.  It takes quite a while for Jake to establish himself in the past and get to the point where his life there, and the conflicts it brings about, become interesting again.  That lull is a little rough to get through.  It's worth it--as all Stephen King fans know from some of his past books--but it's still tough.  If that section had moved along faster, it would have been a better book.
But it's still one of King's better books and definitely worth a read.
Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
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