10 November 2013

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

Ah, yes. I was planning to read and post on the sequel to The Shining as part of the RIP VIII Challenge, but... it's taken me well over a month since my last post and that's because I am in my final days of the trimester and any day now, I will have a little bundle of joy to celebrate. I cannot wait!

It's also taken me over a month to post because I must admit, Doctor Sleep just wasn't what I wanted. It left me a little wanting of that sheer horror and thrill The Shining encompassed, and I felt the new adventures of little Danny Torrance, now all grown up and a hospice worker, were just, well, safe.

Needless to say, when I heard Doctor Sleep was coming out this fall, I fell all over myself on the release date to buy it. I was there so early after opening that the store hadn't even taken it from their boxes, and I got a fresh copy straight from an untampered box. I rushed home, and started in. And I literally just finished it today, when normally I would have consumed a book like this within a week.

Danny Torrance is now an adult and an alcoholic carrying on the nasty hereditary habits that Jack Torrance, his father, displayed so aggressively in the Overlook Hotel in Colorado almost two decades prior. The sheer nightmare of brutal attacks by Jack on his own family, combined with the deadly hauntings of the once living were absolutely disturbing. Yet it was a book you just couldn't put down.

Fighting the bottom of the barrel and past demons, Dan ends up in New Hampshire after a self-proclaimed life-defining moment in Wilmington, North Carolina. Meeting genuinely caring new friends in New Hampshire, one who has had his own battles with the bottle, helps Danny to build a new life with AA as his guardian. As a hospice worker, he has an uncanny ability to help those dying cross over to the other side. But Danny soon learns he's not the only one in town who has this special ability. When a young girl named Abra begins communicating with him, and also knows Tony, Danny's "imaginary" friend from the past, it soon because crucial for them to join together to fight a larger, more terrifying group of people who live off of other's last moments of life.

Across the country, the True Knot gathers, made up of a motley crew of nondescript and unassuming travelers who move from spot to spot in RVs and Winnebagos, frequently taking up camp in the leftovers of the Overlook Hotel, now known as the Overlook Lodge, an established RV campground. Each member of the True Knot has a unique trait, or talent, that makes them critical to the group, led by Rose. And while they may by a forgetful bunch on the super-highways of America, they are true evil, willing to kill any and all who may have a little bit of that shining. After all, this shining is what keeps the True Knot alive, and it doesn't matter who they have to kill in order to be fed.

The book held promise and even reading my own synopsis makes me rethink it all. It does sound incredible, but when I got into the meat of the book, I found that it was a little safe, going easy on the tougher moments. Danny's downward spiral at the start of the book was depressing and tough to read, but I was ready to read more of the darkness and depravity King's books always tend to have. This one, though, felt a little tamer, at least for me. I wanted more connection to The Shining, and I even wanted less of the True Knot, even though this was where the action ultimately would end up.

Have no fear, though. Doctor Sleep is a solid standalone novel, so if you haven't read The Shining, you won't be much confused at all. More than likely you've seen the film, but remember that Stephen King was not happy with Stanley Kubrick's version, which strayed from King's story quite a bit. (King even mentions it in his afterword.)

Bear in mind that this is just my opinion. Most will really like it. I firmly believe Stephen King is a brilliant storyteller and I highly recommend all of his works to varying degrees of entertainment, no matter what. His writing is constantly surprising and shakes the very ground most "literary" enthusiasts raise their noses up at. King is amazing. Read his works, give him a chance. It's worth it.

Passages of Note:
He had lived long enough to know there was a little scumbag in everyone, but it didn't help much when you had to take out the trash. (p.515)
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: 9/24/13
Pages: 544

About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The Stand, The Dark Tower series, It,The Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know. So here you go, click here to visit this wicked cool author's official website.