Tag Archives: Stephen King

Rob Reviews: 11/22/63


The cover from the original hardcover of 11/22/63

I’d really like to get back into this blogging business, but I’m not going to make any promises. So I’ll start with some light fare.

A few weeks back, I finished reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  Incidentally, this is the FIRST Stephen King novel I’ve ever read.  Over the years, I’ve had several friends tell me that Misery is a great jumping-on point for the worldof Stephen King; but no, I chose to take on this nearly eleven-hundred page behemoth for a starter.

Time travel stories have always been a big favorite of mine.  As an adult, I have become fascinated by the assassination of John F. Kennedy and all the theories surrounding it.  A novel that marries these two favorite topics of mine seemed almost too good to be true.

11/22/63‘s  main character is Jake Epping, a school teacher and divorcee – that’s where the similarities between Jake and Your Favorite Blogger end.  Jake is almost moved to tears by an essay written by one of his GED students,  Around the same time, Al Templeton, the owner of a local diner, tells Jake of a time portal located beneath his establishment. After Al introduces Jake to the wonders of time travel, the two address a question that has become the stuff of time-travel cliche – What if you could change history?  Al defines the assassination of John F. Kennedy as a watershed moment in world history and charges Jake with the task of preventing it.

There are of course, a few catches.  This is not a “time machine”.  Jake can only travel back to a certain point in time, in this case 1958. Should he decide to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, he’ll have to wait for events to unfold in the past.  Much of the novel’s action includes Jake living in the past, waiting and preparing for the fateful titular day in Dallas.  The novel explores the idea of a man living in and having a working knowledge of the past, but addresses the conflict of unfamiliarity with everyday life there.

I was absolutely hooked on this book.  I typically don’t read  books of this size, but I was amazed at how quickly I moved through it. At times, I found it easy to get lost in the daily minutiae of Jake’s life in the early 1960s  – making a living, working, personal relationships – and actually lose sight of his over-riding mission to save the President. To that end, I was absolutely amazed at the level of research that King, and his researcer put into the creation of this story.

If you were history, how would the world be different?  What would be the inherit dangers of something as exciting as time traveling?  These are all questions the novel explores.   Inevitably, King does have to address the conspriacy theories regarding Kennedy’s death.  He makes a nearly-definitive statement on this matter – stating both in the novel and in interviews that he’s pretty sure Oswald acted alone – though in the story Jake does take steps to determine once and for all if Oswald was infact, the sole assassin.

Does Jake succeed in saving JFK?  Does he even bother, or let history unfold as we know it to be?  How would the world be different if Jake did save JFK that day in Dallas?  And what becomes of the people he meets while living in the past?  Of course, many other conflicts and complications arise through the story.   I’ll let you, the reader, find these answers for yourself; but I will say this: at 1100 pages, there is a little something for everyone in this novel.

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