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
I am a big fan of Stephen King's but I think sometimes he needs an editor who will stand up to him and tell him a book needs to be shorter, or turned into a short story, or perhaps just not written at all. He is very inconsistent and over time has written some of my favorite and least favorite books. The Stand was always my favorite of his because he did such a great job of telling a story and making you relate to each of the characters who were struggling to survive. No more! 11-22-63 is now my favorite SK book, and this might be one of my top five or ten books ever.
This book was so unexpected and so UN-Stephen King-like, it surprised me. It was not a horror or even a suspense book. The supernatural aspects were somewhat there, but this wasn't about time travel and despite the whole book moving towards the prevention of the assassination of JFK, it is merely a backdrop to a beautiful character-driven story about one man trying to understand the universe and his place in it.
Although we are dealing with time travel if you remove that aspect, his views on the past harmonizing could also serve as Kings own observations on how deja vu happens in our ordinary lives. In fact I thought the beauty of this book was surrounded not by time travel but the author entering in the last quarter of his life and fighting to understand the purpose of life, how do you find happiness in any time, how we view nostalgia and wish for a time when things were simpler and ultimately does the good of mankind weigh greater than the weight of an individual and their own personal happiness.
I thought the time travel aspect would be a device for him to cheat, you could just have made it a book that happened in the past otherwise. But as tempting as it would be for him to cheat, he stayed honest and did not take any short cuts as far as his storytelling went. And actually I thought he went out of his way to say you CAN'T cheat. Not just with the "butterfly effect" but in general, if you went back in time with cheating devices like using sports betting or the stock market or whatever, the biggest problem is not the butterfly effect but that there are ACTUAL consequences to these cheats. If you cheat too often, someone might try and hurt you or worse, past or present!
The reader did an outstanding job of getting all the different accents mostly correct, and he had lots of contrasting and extreme characters, Maine, Texas, Georgia, Boston, German, Russian, Spanish, etc and most were pretty good and not overdone. When the story started, I did not think he had the right sound, but he definitely fit the main characters "average guy" persona and then wove in all the historic characters. The wrong reader would have been distracting, and in a book over 30 hours, you don't need that! By the end, I thought he was the perfect reader to a great story.
My only complaint is his use of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." It is by itself a cliche for an era and for swing dancing so the fact that he kept going back to it throughout the book was silly and thus turned the scenes into cliches themselves. I liked the individual scenes but had he chosen other music, it wouldn't have seemed cheesy.
I still am surprised this book didn't drag out or get slow, being more a character-driven love story than a thriller. But I thought it was a sweet story about a nice average guy finding his way and trying to fit in somewhere. I have recommended it to several others and they all have enjoyed it. If you are thinking about reading it, I strongly recommend it but don't expect to find a typical King thriller here! Prepare to be surprised and entertained!
Yes, I love time travel stories and this was a very tightly woven tale.
All of them.
Great narration that made the characters pop out of the book right into life.
As usual, Stephen King, spins a tale that keeps you interested from beginning to end.
His characters become real, and even years later they are remembered. That's quite an accomplishment.
The best audio book I have experienced to date. I didn't want it to end. It is definitely a virtual page turner.
All of them.
All executed wonderfully. Fantastic narration.
The twist toward the end. Honestly, I don't want to spoil anything.
Extremely engaging, well-written and well done. HIGHLY recommend it.
I have always recognized that King was an excellent writer even though I grew out his horror novels. I heard that he had written this one so took a chance; I was enthralled. It's a long novel and I was very sorry to hear it end.
The tool is time-travel which never interests me but this is done in such a believable manner that the listener is riveted. There are lots of stories within the main plot which has to do with JFK assassignation.
The narration is TERRIFIC - the reader does every voice in the book - a wide range - he does great accents - women, you name it. I recognize the voice but I am going to remember his name and actually look for his books now.
It also brought back many of the facts I had forgotten or never knew about the assassination - I was a little girl at the time, so returning to that time was interesting.
Highly recommend this novel.
The whole concept and and production were first rate.
Talking about how ice cream shakes used to be made and even more about how great root beer floats were back then.
But also, about how unfair society was to so many groups of the disenfranchised - women, blacks, etc.
Probably the best scene was when his heart was tearing in the knowledge that his love and reason for being had died a horrid death because and despite the hero's deed.
The entire book's premise moved me.
A must listen. This is King at his best and it is a very different book from his others.
I must admit, I'm only a quarter of the way through, a little early to be writing a review, but I can't seem to stop listening! The book captivated me from the first chapter. That is rare for me. Usually takes me a bit to get into a book. This one has you from the start.
As with all the other reviews, INCREDIBLE book! A must listen! Dogs will be getting lots of walks.
Stephen King is a damn brilliant (and prolific) fiction writer. This book is a great research project and much of the book feels just like that. It's good, but it follows the rails of history. In that respect I wish it had been a bit shorter.
Then King dons the crown and slams into fiction mode...those rails of history become an unstoppable "machine with teeth". The teeth sparkle before they bite (the dances will almost make you weep). When they bite you know the wounds are inevitable and will be terrible, but they bleed so well.
This isn't my favorite King book, but it's worth the time.
The performance is brilliant; without it I don't know how this book would have done.
If you take one thing from this book, just remember the dance...
I definitely have recommended to my friends. Makes you think about many things, personal and otherwise as far as life and the passage of time.
It made me laugh out loud in places and actually brought tears to my eyes in others.
Tell us about yourself!
Science-fiction, romance, historical
Reliving the injustices before civil rights were enforced.
The Lindyhop? I never heard of it, but I can picture it by the vivid descriptions!
Yes, & I never wanted it to end!
Very different from the author's usual novels, I feel.
30 well-spent hours!
The Green Card Man - he would be a great protagonist for a companion book! I want to know all about him & his function. For whom does he work? Where & how did he get training? How does the green card work? Fascinating!!!
Jake/George. Wasson nailed the ambivalence, the pain and ultimately the bittersweet comprising Jake's/George's essense.
No. It's WAY too long for that.
At first I was not sure I wanted to invest 30+ hours into a book, but I'm glad I did! The minor quibble I have is the uneven quality of Wasson's voice throughout. You can tell when he is fatiguing and when he picks up again fresh. It can be jarring. Still, he is a great narrator & I will seek out other books he reads.
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