Stephen King is a great writer, and no doubt will get plenty of 5 star reviews on his reputation alone. In this sea of glowing stars and smiling faces singing his praises, I hate to be "that guy" but I will.
This book is nothing new and is pretty average at best. King can tell a story so it is not dreadful, and the short length of this book keeps the pacing moving better than some of his other works of late. Ultimately a handful of things made me not like this book very much.
1. Overly Sentimental. Geez is King writing romance novels for elderly ladies lately or what!?. No offense but where's the guy that wrote freakin' Salem's Lot! The sappiness in this story was over the top - especially the ending which was almost too much to listen to.
2. Not cohesive or focused. Was this a paranormal story or a detective story or a coming of age story? The story lines were each sketched out but none carried the weight very well and the intereaction between them was clunky.
3. It was preachy. The story is told from the perspective of this old geezer thinking back on his 21st year with all the "wisdom" of the ages. Groan. King also throws in all these preachy bits about smoking, racism, religion, politics that did nothing for the story at all. Do we really care that the amusment park was smoke free!? These points took me right out of the story.
4. This last bit is for all authors out there (like any are reading my review, right?). Please don't write about NC or the south in general unless you really know about the area. It is like a guy born and raised in MA trying to do a NC accent. It just sounds totally false. This book had southern stereotypes and descriptions of the locales and weather that made me go - huh? NC? really?
I give this book a 3/5 stars. Even though it might deserve a little less, this is Stephen King after all and even I am not immune to his reputation.
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@@
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.
I have had a love/hate relationship with Stephen Kings writings over the years; I either loved or hated many of his books and TV miniseries. In this case Mr. King takes us back to the 1970s in a mystery/horror tale about a young college student struggling to come to grips with the loss of his first love. Mr. King's 70s are a bit anachronistic as he mentions things that either were not prevalent or hadn't been heard of in 1973. Devon Jones, is a bit too sensitive and effeminate for my tastes as the big hero of the piece, and the carnival talk he learns as he works at the Joyland Amusement Park sounds a bit clichéd'. I really couldn't decide if this was supposed to be a mystery, a horror story, or a coming of age story. We have the usual King potboiler cast of characters, the sensitive youth, psychic handicapped child, a somewhat lack-luster psychic who goes around giving Devon dire warning that he doesn't heed, and the ghost of a murdered woman who lives in the haunted house of the park. The performance of the reader was very good and I certainly don't fault him for my mixed emotions about the story. If you are expecting big chills you're bound to be disappointed, but the mystery part of the tale is entertaining without the help from the paranormal part of it.
Final analysis: Joyland is somewhat of a hodge podge of the types of things you've come to expect in a King novel--if you like his usual stick, you'll like this, if you're kind of over the formula than skip it. It rather fails as a mystery novel or a supernatural one--it's a book that didn't know exactly what it wanted to be when it grew up.
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.