On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back?
In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
It begins with Jake Epping, a 35-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away: a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life - like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963 - turning on a dime.
Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession - to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world - of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading, eventually of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful - and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.
©2011 Stephen King. All Rights Reserved. (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc
Contrary to his reputation, Stephen King's real strength isn't in his depiction of horror. It's his ability to write characters the reader can relate to and who have a depth of personality that makes you really care about them. The scary stuff isn't as scary if you don't care about the people it's happening to.
This strength is in full evidence in 11-22-63. This isn't the stereotypical King "people get into surreally horrible situation and the blood flows" story. Instead, we're brought along with a very normal guy who's put into a really difficult situation. One day, he's an English teacher just living his boring life and the next day he's stepping through a portal into the past with a mission to change history.
Here's where the story really shines. Our hero isn't a hero at all. He's amazed by the world of the late 50's/early 60's in the same way I would be. He makes a lot of decisions and does a lot of things that are just what anybody in the same situation would do. The first person narrative is really helpful here, since being in on Jake/George's thought process and feeling adds a level of believability that really immerses the reader in the story.
So it's a tale of wonder, a pile of what-if questions, and of course it's a love story too. A touching, joyful, tragic one. I won't spoil the story or tell how it turns out - it's key to everything and I wouldn't ruin it.
So the book itself is highly recommended. Even if you're not going to listen to the audiobook, it's worth the read in the format of your choosing.
But the narration is well worth separate mention. Craig Wasson so deeply becomes the main character of this book that it really does feel like you're sitting there listening to the story told by the character himself. I've sat through a lot of audiobooks, and rarely do I get pulled in this deeply. The regional accents are (to my West Coast-trained ear) spot-on, and the emotion he brought to his narration was just icing on the cake. I'll be downloading other books he's narrated just because of his job on this one.
So thanks to Misters King and Wasson for combining talents to make an exceptional audiobook. This is what the format strives to deliver, and it was a home run this time.
The reader was extremely talented at helping you feel the emotions of the characters.
I adored the dance at the end!
A fantasy which is totally believable
I would (and have) recommend(ed) this audiobook to a friend. The story is top-notch. Stephen King paints a brilliant picture of America in the late 1950's-60's. The performance is also very good. Some reviews claim that Mr. Wasson gives an, at times, cheesy performance but I wholeheartedly disagree.
I like the idea of the story. Time travel and the results of changing history make for some very thoughtful conversations with others that have read the book. I also loved the way King described mid-20th Century America.
My favorite scene was the first time Jake/George attempts to stop the Dunning murders. Especially the interaction between Jake/George and the characters from a previous King novel! I listened way past my bedtime!
Yes! If only I didn't have to work or be a parent I would have! I listened to the final three hours when I had the flu. My body wanted to sleep but my brain wanted to know how it all ended!
An amazing book! This is not a typical Stephen King book (at least in terms of his horror novels, for which he is well known) but I would recommend it to any Stephen King fan as well as anyone who may think that a Stephen King book would be too scary.
I enjoyed this book very much. Time travel and its consequences are fascinating and though provoking and especially as it relates to historical events. Using an airstream as a catalyst was just icing on the cake!
Unafraid is an excellent book by Jeff Golden takes on the same subject. What would have happened if JFK lived? But it doesn't do it within the context of time travel. Really excellent read ( or listen) and addresses some of the
Well , you gotta love Al. To buy hamburger in the past and sell it in the future at 1958 prices? Brilliant.Who would want that opportunity!
I never listen in one sitting. I listen when I am working on mundane tasks and a 20 hour book will take me 3-4 days. But it was in my ear whenever it was possible.
This was my first Stephen King novel, mainly because I am not a fan of creepy. But the time travel aspect intrigued me and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Other reviews tell me that it is not like his other novels but......I might still give them a try.
I loved the fact that it was so easy to listen to. The story was told/written in a way that was easy to follow. The author made you really care for the characters.
Favorite characters were those in the town of Jody.
It is easier to tell who my least favorite character was, and I say that because Craig Wasson performed him so well. I disliked the green card man. I think Wasson's performance of him made me dislike him. It was great.
I don't think I could have listened to it in one sitting because the story was so massive and emotional, but I was always anxious to get back to it.
There are certain public figures who become part of our own history, don't you think? We mature and if the Fates are kind, grow old with these people. Mr. King is somebody like that for me. He's an old friend who never disappoints and often surprises. I didn't know what to expect other than a book about traveling back in time to prevent President Kennedy's assassination. The idea appealed to me because I was 15 years old when that event took place and I always thought it changed the course of history. Anyway, in my buddy's capable hands, the appealing idea became a great story. I don't know what English and literature teachers are teaching these days but I hope they're teaching Stephen King. He's an American treasure and can't be beat for his ability to create an interesting story with a special twist, to bring to life people who really don't exist except in his imagination and to choose just the right word, just the number of words in a sentence, just the right pacing, just the right everything to create something powerful. Yes, go ahead and listen to the book. An extra bonus is Mr. Wasson's superb reading. I expected to hear each distinct character, but he made me see them too! I suppose this would be a great read, but I do feel sorry for anybody who doesn't take the opportunity to listen to it. HAVE FUN AND ENJOY!!
I spend about four hours per day on the road. Audio books make my commute go by much faster and make it somewhat enjoyable.
This is a long book and the story drags on unnecessarily at times. Other than that, it was pretty good. The narrator is amazing. It's hard to believe that it's just one person.
I haven't listened to very many audiobooks but this one makes me what to find more to listen to. I have a very long commute and audiobooks help the trip go faster. I found myself not wanting to get out of the car right away when I arrived at my destination just so I could listen to a little more. It made me look forward to driving!
No, but I will be looking for them as he did just a great job in helping the characters come alive.
I've read more Stephen King novels than I can count, but my next passion for reading is historical novels. So imagine my excitement to see historical fiction come from the mind of our era's greatest storyteller.
The story itself is enthralling. Of course, the premise itself is thought provoking. But after King captures your imagination with that premise, he lures you into his story by adding a dose of personal redemption, a dash of the innocence of high school, a pinch of the nostalgia of a simpler time and....if you can believe it....a love story. Throw in some guns and knives, the potential of a very dark future, murder and the picture of the evil of a small town for which he paints like no other and you have what could be his best book yet.
I go through 1-2 audiobooks per month during my commute and, without a doubt, Craig Wasson gives the best narration performance I've heard. He tells the story and IS George Amberson. He deftly adds dramatic flair and evokes your attachment to the main character without being overly dramatic. The best compliment I can give is that he is so convincing he becomes as important to the audiobook as the story itself. Just a wonderful job.
My wife is not a King fan at all. Tales of the supernatural, worlds that have passed on, gore, good versus bad....these are topics that don't grab her. This book? It's the one King book I will nag her to no end to pick up and read....or sit back and listen to. Of all his books, this certainly has the broadest appeal.
It is in my top 10
The class reunion
I wish it was another 25 hours long. I could not stop listening.
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