Don’t let the headline fool you. It’s about a lot more than either time travel, the Kennedy Assassination or any other single thing. It’s about life, loss, change and human relationships. What makes it so brilliant is that all of these elements are bundled together into a book that will make you laugh and cry and think. And remember.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is so good it took my breath away. I’m not a Stephen King fan all the time, although several of his books and stories are among my favorite works of American fiction. I never have a problem with his writing. It goes from good to amazing, but his usual genre (horror) is not among my favorites.

11-22-63 king

This book is not horror. Although small sections of the book touch on it, they merely graze the edge of familiar King territory. He never dives into it. This is science fiction, as good an example of science fiction time travel as I’ve ever read and I’ve read pretty much every book in the genre. To say I’m a time travel junkie would not overstate it.

Stephen King does the genre proud. Beyond that, this book is beautiful. It is not merely well-written. It is eloquent, poetic, lyrical. I do not say this lightly. My husband, who is usually not a King fan — with the exception of his stories about baseball and the Red Sox — was dubious when I handed him the book and said “Read it. You’ll love it, I promise!”

Typically, he makes faces and argues with me, but this time, he listened and read the book. Once he began, he couldn’t put it down. He read portions of it out loud because he felt they were so perfect they deserved to be read aloud, like poetry.

The plot is simple to describe, though enormously rich and complex in the telling. A writer determines to go back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His attempt and travels in time produce many repercussions both for him personally and for our world. The “Butterfly Effect” has never been better illustrated.

Whether or not you usually like Stephen King, if you are a reader of science fiction and/or time travel, you owe yourself a trip through this wonderful book. Like many authors, King dodges the technical issues of time travel via the tried-and-true “hole in the time-space continuum” ploy to move his characters to a particular time and place. King does it well and makes it an interesting part of the journey.

Many, if not most readers apparently agree that this is the best book King has written in many long years, perhaps the best since “The Stand” and in my opinion, better. Granted that this is a subjective statement, but I guarantee if you read this book, you will not be disappointed.

This is a master story-teller at the peak of his abilities: Stephen King with emotion, poetry, depth, beauty, intelligence and finally, without taking any cheap or easy ways out of the complexities he creates. An amazing book. If you are any kind of science fiction reader, it’s a must-read. And if you’re a history buff, it’s interesting alternate history.

Categories: American history, Book Review, Books, Literature, Reviews, Sci Fi - Fantasy - Time Travel, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. I cried at the end of it. He had lived a life a fallen in love, but the people he did it with didn’t remember it.


  2. Best book on an assassination? That comes across as an oxymoron.


  3. Yes ! I am not good company for horror but for Stephen king I put myself through it cause I just never see it coming. One of the things I remember so distinctly is his ability to repeatedly use that phrase about time all connecting or sneaking up on you .. it’s been awhile but I was just entirely caught up in the world he created of drama and love and everything else !


  4. I found “11.22.63” an absolute delight especially from the writing texture. I found myself pausing in progress of reading to revisit sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes I would read them aloud just to savor Stephen King’s word paintings. Notice I’m not talking about plot or characters. They are also entertaining. But just the prose like quality of this book reminds me of why I began reading as a child. Not required reading but reading as a passion. Reading also inspired my love of writing. But that’s another story.


    • Books saved us … so many of us. Because we read books, we knew that there was a bigger world and one in which we could play a part. Now, books let me escape for the mundane and travel anywhere my imagination takes me. It makes life worth living … that, and you, my love.


  5. I love Kings work, and literally only just finished this book about 3 hours ago. I really liked it, but felt it went on a little too long. I enjoyed the ending, but felt there were parts of it that were quite boring and didn’t really need to be there or make sense. But thats not to detract from it, I still enjoyed it, but not as much as a lot of his previous efforts. Nice write up anyway 🙂


    • I first listened to it on audio and was riveted throughout. I like slow movies and slow books with a lot of exposition, so what others find boring, I just find moody and leisurely. Regardless, I believe King is one of the great story-tellers and when he tells a good one, it’s always worth the time.


  6. Somewhat ashamedly, I have to hold my hand up admit that I have yet to read this book. I am an almost rabid King fan and have been one for years. I was anxiously waiting for this books’s release date in this country and then….missed it. I keep saying I need to pick it up but I have yet to do so. Your review has got that urge going again. I’m going to have to get that book! Great Review! 07/09/12


    • I know you’ve had a rough time lately. I didn’t know until I read your blog yesterday and realized you had been ill. To say that I feel with you is not an exaggeration so I am going to suggest that this might be a good time to consider listening to the book on audio. Especially when you are not physically up to snuff, audiobooks can give you access to all the books in the world (almost, anyhow) and you don’t have to try to focus your eyes on a page for extended periods. It’s a great book, and I’m NOT a King fan, nor is Garry … but honor where it is due: the man is one of the era’s greatest storytellers. And this is one of his greatest stories! I hope you are beginning to feel more human. Don’t try to hurry healing: it will take whatever time it takes. Try to relax and not worry. I know it’s hard, but healing requires a certain level of tranquility. Hang on in there!


      • Thanks for the well wishes and the brilliant idea of audio books. I used to listen to a lot of Louis L’Amour’s westerns that way. I had not thought of it at all. Cheers for that. King is a good storyteller. His ‘non horror’ books show that brilliantly. The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon and The Cincinnati Kid does as well. Both long time favourites. And thanks for the tranquillity advice, I am currently trying to be so laid back, I’d make Dean Martin look like he had ADHD! Cheers! 🙂


        • I have spent the last 10 years recovering from one or another catastrophic health thing. I won’t bore you with details since illness is boring, especially to the ill one. So, I have learned the drill and turned off worry. It doesn’t solve anything and makes me twitch. Audiobooks are a saving grace. Very addictive, like watching a movie, but I direct, choose the cast, and play cinematographer.


  7. Thanks for the glowing recommendation. I’ll add it to my to-read list. Thanks.



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