Book Review | 11/22/63 by Stephen King

03 September 2020


I didn't know where to start with reading Stephen King. There are just some authors that are so highly acclaimed, that have so many great works to choose from that it can be intimidating to pick which book to begin with. Stephen King is definitely one of those authors. His writing is vast, spanning several genres and mediums. He intertwines his books into his own universe, and you have to pay attention to the subtle connections. So many of his books are considered classics, and the amount of praise I hear about him is insurmountable.

11/22/63 is a book that has spoken to me from the moment I bought it until I turned the final page. This story follows Jake Epping, a man who's life is falling apart when he is given the opportunity to travel back in time to the 1960's to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This basic premise was enough to hook me before I even started reading. I love alternative histories and time travel books, and I was excited to see how someone would pull this idea off whether it was written by Stephen King or not. 

Even though I had a strong suspicion that I would enjoy this book, I didn't expect how much it would make me feel. Something that I have learned about Stephen King's writing through reading this book is how he makes you connect with his characters so much. He puts you in their head and shows every part of them, flaws and all. They feel like real people, which adds to the suspense in the story as you truly care about what happens to them. 

The ending hit me so much harder than most books I've ever read because I cared so much. I teared up no less than three times reading the last fifty pages, and even writing this review my heart can't help but ache remembering how perfect and beautifully this plot culminated in the end.

There were some areas of this giant tome that I initially thought were slow, but upon looking back I realize how the "slower" sections were there for a reason. Whether to develop characters, establish relationships and internal conflict, or to build up to something huge, every page felt important. The writing was also engaging and fast paced the whole way through, even during the slow parts, which made the pages of this huge book just fly by.

The overall atmosphere of this book is done in such a way that makes you feel nostalgic for the '60's, but doesn't romanticize it. The issues of the time are brought up in a subtle way that doesn't take you out of the main story you're reading, but still makes you think about how the times have changed a lot in the past fifty years. From the time travel elements to the historical detail, I could tell that King put so much care and thought into the research for this book. He combined everything so beautifully, and it left me speechless. 

Since 11/22/63 is a sci-fi thriller rather than King's typical horror, many fans may not think this was the best story to start my exploration. However, I am so so so glad I decided to pick this one up when I did. If you enjoy masterfully plotted time travel stories, history, and strong characters, I cannot recommend this book enough! I truly wish I could go into spoilers and really delve deep into the different themes and events that were explored in this book. It's so rich! I'm already excited for the opportunity to reread it sometime in the future and to pick up other books by Stephen King, horror or not.

Rating: ★
"The past is obdurate." --Stephen King, 11/22/63

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