Cleverly disguised as an amateur detective yarn melded with a ghost story, Joyland is actually a sentimental coming of age story with an ending that could make a hard boiled mystery fan cry.
Set at a North Carolina seaside amusement park in 1973, the tale is told by Devon Jones, a University of New Hampshire student, who spends the summer as an on-the-job training carny. Told in the first person, Devon, in his sixties, is writing the story in 2013, looking back on a special year in his otherwise uneventful youth. The reader can imagine an old man with prostate trouble doing searches on Google Chrome to tell the story of a time when research was done in libraries using the card catalog.
The thriller-style ending hinges on phone calls that were made and not made on the old Ma Bell system. It would not make sense in the era of the iPhone. Keeping us in That Seventies Show time frame while typing the story on a Mac, is a credit to the abilities of Stephen King. Of course, the author was a young man in 1973 and is now 67, so along with the research, he knows the era he's writing about first hand.
And the book is filled with nostalgia for a lost world where college students met on the beach, not on Facebook.Young workers lived in rooming houses and joined older residents to play the Scrabble board game in the parlor.There was still a place for amusement parks that were funkier and less scripted than Disney World or Six Flags, although the Disney version was increasingly forcing old carny into bankruptcy.
The serial murders at carnivals and the ghosts left behind are really subplots to Devnon's coming of age story. He gets his first job away from his New England home. His college sweetheart breaks his first-loving heart. He discovers an unexpected talent for entertaining children. He befriends a dying boy and his troubled young mother.
Devon also solves a murder, loses his virginity, and almost gets killed. He is saved in the end by a psychic child, and a televangelist's wayward daughter, who looks like Ann-Margaret and shoots like Annie Oakley.
Joyland's story is sweeter and sadder than anything his fans may recall King writing. Maybe because it is so personal and the author is so much older than his 1973 alter ego. Maybe writing in the old pulp fiction genre, freed a side of King's creativity that he hadn't been able to tap into before.
Whatever storytelling magic is going on in Joyland, the reader gets the feeling that rich and famous and surrounded by technology, the author would still like to be flying a kite on a North Carolina beach in 1973.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
NEVER KID A KIDDER, KIDO
I love Stephen King and most of his books, and Jim the Impatient, listened to this whole thing, so it is not boring. It is not horror, it's kind of a cheap imitation of Water For Elephants. As much as I love King, I will advise you to read Water for Elephants instead. It is better written, more involved, scarier, and a better look at circus life then this is a look at Carney life.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE PAST, EVERYONE WRITES FICTION.
If this had been a true story, it might have been a tear jerker, if we had been more invested in the characters, it would have been less cheesy. Like Howard Stern says on America's Got Talent," Mr. King, I believe you fell a little flat tonight, I loved what you did in previous nights, but tonight something was missing." Bachman's version of this story would be more to my taste.
MAKE IT JOB ONE
I also wonder if the mother had not been drop dead gorgeous if our hero would have befriended the cripple. Sorry kid, your mother's too plain looking.
I'M AS DRY AS TEN YEAR DOG SH@@
Titles that should be made or remade into film by Amazon or Netflix... Department Q. Harry Hole. Noble House. Tai-pan. Gai-jin and Shogun.
I think it's fair to say this is a quickie by King standards. It's a very good one. Like most all of his work the characters seem more like old friends, people you know and like and hope the best for.
It's a murder mystery set in an aging carnival type theme park in 1973 North Carolina. There actually is one here called South of the Border. Google it for a laugh. There's a very small supernatural element which has little to do with the story or it's outcome. In truth it would be a great thriller without any supernatural occurrences.
Just sit back and let reader Michael Kelly take you back to 1973. You won't regret it for a moment.
Addicted to Audible since 2009
Good story, great narrator, sad ending… Stephen King does it again. And for me personally the story really hit home. Took place in the 70s, my favorite era... I can’t think of one other book that mentions my favorite athlete of all time - Larry Csonka and my favorite game – scrabble; while also referencing New Jersey and Carney from Kearny, which just happens to be my home town!
I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
I haven't read much Stephen King considering how much he's written and how popular he is and how much I read. I've read the The Shining, Carrie, and I tried and failed with making it through Lisey's Story. None of those books were that memorable for me. So, I have to say that I haven't really been too impressed with King… until now. Joyland was a little gem of a listen. It is a mystery, sure, but it also much more than that. It is a unique coming of age story. Devin Jones, the main protagonist, is a likable enough character and the narrator, Michael Kelly, enhances this. The story is told through the old eyes of Devin Jones as he reminisces back to the 1970's when he was a heartbroken college kid that decided to work at Joyland, an amusement park, for the summer. That summer changes his life forever. I felt that for a short-ish book, it had a lot of depth, meaning that I felt like the characters were well developed. I did plenty of giggling, gasping and a few tears fell as I listened to the story unfold. The cursing and the sex scene gave the book a bit of an edge that was appreciated. Also, there were twists and turns to the story that I didn't see coming and that always makes things a bit more interesting. This was a great summertime read/listen.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
This is not your classic Stephen King novel. The supernatural part is rather muted, but the story is great. You will especially like it if your are in your 50s or 60s since it will bring back the days when you were in college and summers were a time to explore. Like the main character, I worked in a resort ( not amusement park) and the friends I met that summer are still my friends today. The characters are all great and the "mystery" part keeps you guessing to the end. It switched from present to past which adds a good amount of perpective to the story from the narrators point of view.
You can't go wrong with this one.
King Short Story
Yes. Most Stephen King novels are sprawling works that span over a dozen hours or more. At 7 1/2 hours, this is a very concise effort and I didn't find that it ever languished; it just keeps moving you forward to its conclusion.
He manages, while narrating as an older verison of the main character, to convey the voice of the youthful Devin Jones.
It made me laugh several times but anyone who reads Stephen King knows that laughs are part of the deal. Put that on a sampler and hang it in your kitchen. :)
I really missed the lack of a forward or afterward from the author with this one.
This is the number 3 song on the A-side of one of your favorites bands newest LP. It's not the title track or the one getting the most play, but you like it. As we all know, King can tell a story and create atmosphere like no other, and for 7 1/2 hours it was fun hanging out at the local amusement park...watching the goofy dance numbers performed by the employees, eating corn dogs, riding the hammer, and getting creeped out in the Terr-O-Ride. If you are a fan of horror--you are going to be as disappointed as Clark Griswold was to find out Wally World was closed for the season, but fans of King's style should enjoy the fun light ghost story.
"I'll be a story in your head, but that's OK. We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? The Doctor
Joyland reminded me more of The Body (aka Stand By Me) than Salem Lot, It, or The Shinning. Most of Stephen Kings books left me still terrified 30 years later. I am still afraid to look directly into sewer drains just in case a creepy clown is staring back at me.
Joyland, like The Body, is just a good story about growing up, told like only a good story teller can, but with a dash of creepy. If you are expecting to be scared to death this is not the one for you, but if you like The Body, you will love this.
So lets talk about the narrator...
Dear Michael Kelly
Can you read to me every night? Seriously, I like House of Cards, but if Doug is actually dead, audio books narration is your new career.
I have enjoyed all of the Hard Case books by Stephen King, but this is the only one that I have gotten as an audio book. In addition to the compelling nature of the story itself, Michael Kelly's performance is simply one of the best I have heard. It sounds almost dry and matter of fact, yet contains a depth of emotion I have rarely heard from a narrator. A somewhat understated performance that really delivers. I highly recommend this book.