Sunday, 29 September 2013

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King


I've reread The Shining over ten times, it really is one of my favourite books - King manages to capture those absurd (or not so absurd) childish fears and turn you straight back into a five year old, so you can relieve them all over again. No matter how many times I read it it's still as scary as the first. I remember this one time - probably the fifth of seventh reading - I read it during the dead of winter, the wind was howling outside and I was just dying for a glass of water. You think I got up to get it? Too scared to do it! I actually ended up drinking straight from the hot water bottle heating my feet. Never do that, by the way.

I knew, going in, that Doctor Sleep wouldn't reach The Shining's heights. It couldn't, nothing really can. So I wouldn't say I'm disappointed, there were no dashed hopes here. But this really needed to be edited a few more times to make it tighter. Here's the thing, even when it's superfluous, and in need of cutting, Stephen King's writing is solid, so while you read it and think, "They needed to cut about 200 odd pages off this book", you're not bored or upset, it's just something you acknowledge. That being said, while I go through The Shining in one single night (without fail), it took me four days to go through Doctor Sleep. It's very "put-down-able".

But let me start from the beginning, which is pretty good. King takes us back to just a bit ahead of where he left us off in The Shining. This was such an amazing treat! I wasn't expecting that at all! It really felt like The Shining, and if I had to choose one favourite thing about this book it would have to be Dick Hallorann's appearances. So, to everyone who goes on about how King "lost it" or whatever, he really didn't, it's all there. Doctor Sleep follows Dan Torrance's story, and while I deeply respect anyone who has managed to beat their addiction problems it doesn't necessarily follow that I would want to know, in detail, the content of their path to sobriety. Not saying it's not important! I'm saying that, story-wise, it's not interesting page turning stuff. There were too many AA meetings, and related stuff, in this book. There were too many instances of the mundane, which, while important to ground a story, can definitely overcrowd it.

The thing about Doctor Sleep is that it didn't scare me. Not even once. Not even a little. I'm sorry but the True Knot people were not scary at all. I suppose they could have been, but King went into who they were, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their past. I felt sorry for Andi. I'm not saying I sympathised with the rest of them, but you can't place us in the middle of a bunch of people's lives, make us see them love and grieve, and expect us to still think of them as horribly scary. Scary is the unknown.
Rose the Hat was not scary in the least, a grown woman with a vendetta against a thirteen year old girl, come on... I didn't even place this book under the "horror" tag, because it simply wasn't horror. Maybe thriller? What you have is a bunch of child kidnappers and murderers, who just happen to have a supernatural twist to them, and not a particularly interesting one.

But it was entertaining and, as I said before, the writing is solid (quite a few extremely quotable lines in here!). So, if you like Stephen King's writing, give it a go!


Stephen King official site

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2 comments:

  1. King's works seem so much longer now than when he first started out, so not surprised to hear this one would need some trimming. Curious on the book, can't wait to get it. Great review.

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    1. I checked and The Shining is about 512 pages long, Doctor Sleep is 531 - but you are right, his later works seem longer.
      I hear he postponed publishing Doctor Sleep from this Spring to this Fall, because he found it in need of editing. I think with a bit more editing I would have given this a higher rating.
      Thank you!

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