11/22/63: A Novel
I've finally done it -- I've read a Stephen King book all the way through. A time travel story can always draw me in, and this one had the novelty of having the traveler back in time go to a time I lived through. Plus, the story begins in Lisbon Falls, Maine -- a neighboring town I've been visiting and passing through all my life.By now you can probably figure out the basic plot. Jake, a high school English teacher, is shown a time-portal by his dying friend Al and entrusted with a mission to prevent JFK's assassination. The portal always takes him to the same day in 1958; he makes a couple of practice trips, preventing other deaths, before he settles down to the business at hand.Time travel, like other fantasy, must have rules; the rule Jake is told from the outset is that each trip back resets history to the way it was before he meddled.It's difficult to say much more about the plot without spoliers.The book has most of the traits that have kept me from ever finishing one of King's books in the past. It's wordy, padded with brand names, and it's evident that no one bothers to edit of fact check King's books. (One scene that almost had me fling the book across the room: Jake is trying to locate a family in a strange town, but he only knows the last name. He goes to the library, in 1958, and asks to see the 1950 census. The librarian, instead of laughing at him, sends him to the town hall. Given that King was probably writing this book during or shortly after the 2010 census, one would think he would have known that census results are kept under wraps for 72 years.)Still, the book held my interest, although I found the ending disappointing. I enjoyed the time travel and suspense, but even more I liked that I felt King used this book as an exercise in personal time travel. Jake, the protagonist, is a high school English teacher who directs the school plays and lives in a small Maine town. He has ambitions to be a writer. In other words, his life (minus the time travel) could easily have been Stephen King's life if a few things had gone differently. Despite its flaws, this was a hard book to put down, and I'd recommend it especially to people who like time travel stories.