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Review: 11/22/63

February 17, 2012

Al discovers a portal to the past in the storage room of his diner and decides he can use it for the greater good if he stops the assassination of President Kennedy, since he thinks that’s a pivotal point in American history.  When Al becomes too ill to complete the task he has set for himself, he enlists one of his loyal customers, Jake Epping, to do it for him.

When my book club selected 11/22/63, by Stephen King, I inwardly groaned.  Did they really expect me to read a 800 something page book by Stephen King?   In the spirit of book clubs, I decided I would give it a try and was thrilled when I won a copy of the audio since I had a couple of road trips planned.

Imagine my surprise when I was hooked on this book from the very first word.  I’ve avoided Stephen King’s work all these years because I don’t like horror, only to discover that this man can tell a story like no other.  I was invested in this story right from the start and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.  I found myself thinking about the story a lot and, quite often, wanted to get in my car and drive around just to listen to more.  Yes, the book is long, but it didn’t feel that way at all.

The story is told from Jake’s point of view and I thought he was a fabulous character.  Part of what makes him so endearing is that he realizes he’s not perfect and readily admits his faults.   He’s earnest and kind, and really hopes to help humanity.  It was fun to experience the 1950s and 60s through the eyes of a contemporary.

King pays great attention detail – in the hands of another author that probably would have driven me to distraction, but I found myself relishing the details and hanging on every word.    King’s research was excellent so I learned a few things and found myself googling some of the details to find out more.

At the heart of 11/22/63 is a very sweet love story.  It’s also a pleasant look at our past.  Things didn’t end the way that I anticipated, but that’s okay, the ending worked for me.   My book club didn’t find a lot to discuss with the book since everyone loved it.

The audio version of the book is read by Craig Wasson and he does an outstanding job.  For me, he was the voice of Jake – I can’t imagine anyone else reading it as well.  The book is on 30 CDs and takes over 30 hours to listen to.  There is an afterward by Stephen King at the end of the last CD that is well worth listening to as well.

Challenges: What’s in a Name 5

I won this book in a contest on Devourer of Books.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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50 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 6:57 am

    YES! This will be at the top of my favorites list for the year, and probably on my favorites list ever. King is a master story-teller…even if he is talking about the Apocalypse via a super flu or a murderous clown that lives in the sewers, he tells a wicked story. It gives me more pleasure than I can say when I hear the world as a whole has now embraced him.

    And yes, that audio is spectacular. I can’t remember an audio that swept me off my feet so.

  2. February 17, 2012 7:01 am

    Sounds like a terrific read! Like you, I’ve always stayed away from Stephen King novels as I’m not to keen on horror either. But you have me sold on this novel! Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  3. February 17, 2012 7:55 am

    I’ve started reading it on my kindle and am loving it! Like you, I’m not a fan of horror and wasn’t sure I wanted to read any King, but as I’ve discovered he is a great story teller of non-horror types of stories. They are a horror of another kind, which I can appreciate. So glad you enjoyed this story – wow, 30 cds! That’s a lot of driving around 🙂 I’m definitely more excited to finish this book after reading your post – thanks!!

  4. February 17, 2012 8:29 am

    I am just starting the fourth part today and am savoring every word! Yes an amazing narrator and I am so excited to now know that Stephen King has a message at the end!

  5. brolee permalink
    February 17, 2012 8:37 am

    I have almost bought this book so many times, but something has made me wary. I think I suffer from some sort of stigma I’ve attached to Stephen King which isn’t fair to him or myself. I’ve promised myself to purchase this book next and feel much better about the decision after reading your review plus the many other positive reviews across the blog world. I especially look forward to a delightful narrator.

  6. February 17, 2012 9:21 am

    Glad you liked this book. I’m a fan of King’s non-horror stories, too, and can’t wait to dive into this new novel!

  7. February 17, 2012 9:37 am

    Glad you liked it and gave it a chance. This was one of the best books I’ve read in years. Well, listened to, as I did the 30 hours of audio. I remember listening with my headphones as I raked and cleaned the yard and then did some extra work just to keep listening. It was that good. I’ve always preferred Stephen King’s other tales to his gory horror.

  8. February 17, 2012 9:38 am

    I love that you enjoyed this book! So many readers are discovering King via this book!

  9. February 17, 2012 9:53 am

    I got the audiobook and was ALL excited about it, but then have shied away. You may have convinced me that I need to just look into getting the audiobook and doing this one that way.

  10. February 17, 2012 9:56 am

    I am so glad that you liked this one. Now Stephen King can be one of your new favorites…he does write other books that are not horror.

  11. February 17, 2012 10:09 am

    not looking, not looking! hoping to finish this book today or tomorrow and then I’ll come back and read your review!

  12. February 17, 2012 10:10 am

    it is just soooo big.

  13. February 17, 2012 10:12 am

    This book has three strikes against it with me. 1) I can’t stand Stephen King novels. 2) I don’t like time travel stories. And 3) JFK’s assassination is still so much with me that I just can’t imagine reading a novel about trying to change it. I’m the same way with 9/11.

  14. February 17, 2012 10:19 am

    I’m glad you read it so I don’t have to. LOL!

    Happy weekend, Kathy!

  15. February 17, 2012 10:20 am

    I am so excited to get started with this one, and Sandy was nice enough to let me borrow it when it came from the library. I have heard such amazing things, and only one or two tepid reviews, so I am anxious to get started with it! I am so glad that you loved it and that it was a great listen for you. I can’t wait to see what I think!

  16. February 17, 2012 10:40 am

    You have inspired me to pick this book. I don’t like King’s genre of books either, but this sounds like it is a departure, and besides, I do want to try his books.

  17. February 17, 2012 11:08 am

    Not sure it’s for me but I’m glad you enjoyed it. Sounds perfect as an audiobook!

  18. February 17, 2012 11:24 am

    Sounds awesome but did I read this right, did you say 30 cds?

  19. February 17, 2012 11:51 am

    It’s a good story, but not what I was hoping it would be. I am glad that readers who seemed to overlook his work before, are willing to give this one a try though. He has always been a fantastic storyteller and there are so many stories and images of his that are embedded into my brain.

  20. February 17, 2012 12:23 pm

    I usually avoid King too. But I know he writes more than horror. I must give this one a go.

  21. February 17, 2012 1:01 pm

    I’ll have to read this one at some point. I didn’t realize how great of a storyteller King was until I read It. I really thought it was going to be sort of fluffy, like Patterson. So glad I was wrong!

  22. February 17, 2012 1:37 pm

    Great review, Kathy! I’m so glad you enjoyed your intro to Stephen King so much. His books are long yet easy to read (or listen to), as the stories truly hold your attention. He is an incredible story teller. I can’t wait to begin It (also a bit of a chunkster). Will you add this review to the Stephen King Project?

  23. February 17, 2012 1:44 pm

    I’m not a Stephen King fan, but this sounds interesting.

  24. February 17, 2012 1:44 pm

    I’m glad to see you liked this book so much as my bookclub has picked this one too and I was a little nervous!

  25. February 17, 2012 1:49 pm

    I’m not usually tempted by Stephen King’s books, but I think I might actually enjoy this one.

  26. February 17, 2012 2:10 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed your first King book. I haven’t read any by him in years but this one sounds very interesting.

  27. February 17, 2012 2:17 pm

    I don’t read a lot of Stephen King, but I have been hearing a lot of positive buzz about this one. I might have to check it out!

  28. February 17, 2012 2:37 pm

    After reading your review and all of the very positive comments, I might just have to read this book. I hadn’t even considered it.

    Great review, Kathy. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.

  29. February 17, 2012 4:27 pm

    I will have to try this one. I have read only one or two King books for the exact same reason. This sounds great! Thanks for the tip.

  30. February 17, 2012 4:53 pm

    I haven’t read any Stephen King since I gave up on The Stand in the 80s. This one does sound interesting. I don’t like big chunkster books on the whole, it takes me too long to get through them.

  31. February 17, 2012 5:33 pm

    I am so glad it grabbed you and it was a great reading experience!!!

  32. February 17, 2012 6:16 pm

    I’ve been planning on using my next audible credit to get this one on audio… I’m just sort of slogging through the audio I’m listening to right now so maybe I’ll just start this one anyway. It sounds so good! I’m always interested in life in the 50’s and 60’s so that should be an interesting aspect of this book for me!

  33. February 17, 2012 7:22 pm

    I read a couple of Stephen King novels long ago, but maybe it is time to give him a try once again….audio form might work better for me. Thanks for the review Kathy!

  34. February 17, 2012 7:27 pm

    Would you believe I haven’t read a King book either? But I do have this one on my shelf, and I plan to get to it soonish!

  35. February 17, 2012 7:49 pm

    King is amazing!!! I’m glad you finally broke down and gave him a try. He can tell a story like no one else. I just finished this (in print) and stayed up way too late to finish it. I agree that it doesn’t feel as long as it is because the story just goes by so fast. I had no idea how he was going to end it but I was happy with how it came out. Hope you give King another try! Perhaps Bag of Bones might be a good one to try next.

  36. Alison's Book Marks permalink
    February 17, 2012 8:48 pm

    I also listened to the audio and really really enjoyed it. So glad you liked it too!

  37. February 17, 2012 9:48 pm

    Gaaah! Just finished! The ending killed me!

  38. February 17, 2012 11:03 pm

    ok, ok, ok….i’ve read enough amazing reviews of this book that i’m going to have to break down and read it! would you recommend the audio v. print?

  39. February 18, 2012 4:25 am

    It makes me wonder what happens in the end.,,,

    Yay for you winning the audio

  40. February 18, 2012 8:56 am

    I keep warring with myself and wondering to read or not to read!!???? but maybe I’ll get this one on audible.com next month!! 😀

  41. February 18, 2012 1:55 pm

    YES!!!! I am so excited that you enjoyed this story! Stephen King is just a masterful storyteller and I loved every page of this book. I cried at the end, and immediately missed Jake and Sadie. LOVED! So excited that your whole book club loved it as well 🙂

  42. February 18, 2012 5:53 pm

    It has been awhile since I have read a Stephen King novel b/c the length is always a big time investment for me, but I have loved every book I have read by him. I like the way this one plays off a famous historical event. I think I will try to read this when I am on vacation this summer.

    Thanks for the great review!

  43. February 18, 2012 6:03 pm

    I think I’ll enjoy this one but I am intimidated by the size.

  44. February 18, 2012 9:33 pm

    I do not like horror stories at all so I avoid King! This book has gotten such great reviews though, so I may just see if I can get this from the library and give it a try. You have convinced me to give it a chance!

  45. February 19, 2012 6:42 am

    I’m not sure when it’s going to happen (if ever), but I have the audiobook in iTunes waiting for me to listen. I find 30 CDs outrageous and awfully difficult to begin. So glad you really enjoyed your experience.

  46. February 19, 2012 1:27 pm

    I would inwardly groan, too, if my book club picks this but I do want to read it.

  47. February 20, 2012 3:53 pm

    I’ve avoided most of what King has written too. I’ve seen so much praise for this book that it has given me pause. When I saw that you were reading it, I was curious to see what you thought. You always seem to have sensible opinions about books (meaning they match mine -lol) so I waited to see if you thought it was worth reading. 30 hours on audio actually seems do-able at an hour a day for a month. Well worth it for a good story.

  48. February 20, 2012 9:01 pm

    I so appreciated your review of this one! I’ve been looking at it scantwise on the bookshelves and wondering if I should take it on. You’ve pushed me over the edge. Thanks for your thoughtful, as always, review of this one!
    Deb

  49. February 22, 2012 12:41 pm

    Jason & I used to listen to a lot of Stephen King’s longer books on road trips. He’s someone we can both enjoy. I do want to read this one. It’s the length that’s keeping it on the backburner.

  50. boardinginmyforties permalink
    April 26, 2012 2:47 pm

    I’ve gotta read this one! So glad you are finding time to be part of the project!

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