What will you do if you find a gate that can take you back to 1953? Will you take a chance to rewrite history and make yourself a hero? Or collect a lot of money by betting on sport? Or will be too scared to even try anything?
…but what if you know every time you visit the past, you put everything in reset?
Oh Mr. Stephen King…you really are a great story teller, for the first time in my reading life, I really care to know what will happen to a fictional character’s love life.
When I began reading 11/22/63, all I know is that King will take me to a journey of how one man tried to save JFK, I have no idea that he will take me to a romantic story that got caught in between so many tragedies.
11/22/63 is a slow pace book, at least for me it’s a slow pace because I finished Under The Dome (1074 pages) faster than this book which only has 880 pages…but I dare to say that Under The Dome (although I will reread it few days from now) has too made-believe ending while 11/22/63 has a powerful ending.
I will try to write my review without too much spoiler…but it’s hard not spoiling it to let you all know what makes the book great.
Jake Epping was an English teacher who had never cried, at least that was what his ex-wife told him. But when he read an essay from his adult student named Harry, he couldn’t stop crying. That essay changed his peaceful life forever.
“It wasnt a day but a night. The night that change my life was the night my father murdirt my mother and two brothers and hurt me bad. He hurt my sister too, so bad she went into a comah. In three years she died without waking up. Her name was Ellen and I love her very much. She likes to pick flouers and put them in vayses.”
The essay was full of mistakes but Jake gave the essay A plus because of the feeling and the honesty it shared to the reader, himself.
Jake loved eating at Al Templeton’s diner. One day, Al called Jake to come to his diner. The diner was closed and Jake met a much older Al, Al who had a terminal lung cancer. Al looked perfectly healthy the day before. Al showed him the gate to 1958, he called it the rabbit hole (taken after Alice in Wonderland), and told him that he was four years older than the day before. Al explained everything about the hole and what had happened to him. He told Jake that he waited there to reach 1963 to save JFK from that being assassinated…but the past was cheeky and gave him the cancer. He wanted Jake to continue what he had started. He wanted Jake to life in the past for 5 years and saved Kennedy. What could go wrong? If saving him turned out bad, he could go back and reset everything back to normal again.
Jake was not so sure about doing that…but then he remembered Harry’s essay, the murder happened on October 1958…he wanted to safe Harry’s family, he wanted to stop his father from killing Harry’s siblings and mother.
What happened next was the story of how Jake tried to safe Harry’s family and JFK. BUT that’s not all, Jake fell in love with Sadie…it made things more complicated.
There are so many surprises in this book, I like the fact that Harry came from Derry (King’s favorite imaginary town) and Jake even met 2 characters from another King’s book called IT. I also like reading how Jake spied on Oswald. Even reading about Oswald little family is interesting. It’s like reading about so many lives in one book but it doesn’t feel like overcrowded…all the stories are put together neatly. And it’s very interesting how King made the past as something obdurate and didn’t want to be change. I like his definition of Butterfly Effect. I like how he makes the past harmonize around Jake. Jake was in the past for 5 years and unlike many books that often jump up the story, here we can feel like we are living with Jake for that many years.
I also like how Jake is portrayed a teacher by nature…I mean he reminds me of me. How I love to teach and how Jake loves to teach. It’s so nice reading how Jake loves his students.
However…I can’t say that 11/22/63 is a perfect book, somehow I can’t feel attach with the characters (one of the thing that makes me love Under The Dome is because all the characters are well built), I do feel attach to Jake…but not with Sadie and everyone else in the town called Jodie. I feel more attach to Oswald family. But then again…maybe I am the only one who feels that way 😉
Overall…I can understand why many non King fans enjoyed 11/22/63. It’s not a horror or thriller book, it’s a love story of a time traveler with a mission.
Side note: 11/22/63 is rumored to be made into a mini series…I really wish the rumor comes true 😉