Reviews: Eleven Twenty Two Sixty Three

2/5 awesome, 3/5 sappy

I'm a fan of Stephen King. I haven't read all of his material, but what I have read has been thrilling stuff. It's the sort of storytelling that truly solidifies people as true bookreaders.

That said, I just finished 11/22/63 and was significantly unsatisfied. Part of me wants to think it is due to my dislike of the audiobook narrator's voice. But really my main problems had to do with the story itself.

The story is about Jake Epping, a school teacher in Maine who goes on an important and unexpected mission: traveling back through time to prevent the assassination of JFK. Unfortunately, the time portal he goes through can only take him to the year 1958, five years before Kennedy dies. Returning home and going back to the past evidently erases the events he changed on the first trip, so Jake must be very careful. He takes on a false identity, "George Amberson", and makes the journey from Maine to Texas. He settles down in Jodie, a quiet little town a few hours away from Dallas. While using the time he has during the pivotal date of the shooting to observe, investigate and study Lee Harvey Oswald, Jake also gets a steady teaching job at the local high school, ingratiates himself with the community and falls in love with a fellow teacher named Sadie Dunhill.

This is the point where it became clear that this book is not quite the time-travel odyssey I had expected. It's more of a romance novel wrapped inside a period piece. I know many who read the book enjoyed this direction, but it really outwore its welcome with me. It starts out believable and nice then slowly descends into something cheesy, unbelievable and aggravating. Which is bad, since this relationship is key to this story's drama. Sadie Dunhill is also a Purity Sue if ever there was one.

This book is about 85% Author Tract on behalf of King. Maybe more. It just felt like a huge device for King's "average", left-wing, inexplicably badass english teacher to exert his moral superiority over a collection of standard King Jerkass archetypes from an ignorant era.

The beginning where Jake and Al are testing the time portal, the end when it's nature is explored and King's detail of the past and historical figures were all excellent. This mostly just felt very over-indulgent, even more than Under the Dome. I guess King's icon status warrants that, though.