Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Author: Stephen King
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Content alert: It's scary enough to keep readers up turning pages because they're too scared to sleep. Rough language, violence, drug use, a sex scene ir two, descriptions of child sex abuse
A couple of years ago, I read my first Stephen King novel, 11/22/63. It had been heavily hyped, and despite my reservations (I always thought that Stephen King novels were mostly read by nerdy boys with heavy metal t-shirts and greasy hair), I loved it. But it wasn't a horror novel, and so I thought it was an anomaly-- a step outside of King's regular genre to appeal to readers like me. But a few months ago, I kept seeing Doctor Sleep show up in my "Recommended for You" feeds. I knew that it was a sequel to The Shining (which I had neither read nor seen as a film), and you all know how I feel about reading the second book in a series before I've read the first book in a series. But finally, in a moment of weakness, when I had plenty of Audible credits and wanted to get something long to maximize the bang for the buck factor, I bought this one.
It was a few more weeks before I delved into the story of Dan Torrance, who King's fans probably recognize as the five-year-old protagonist of The Shining. In Doctor Sleep, Danny is all grown up, and sort of washed up. He's bounced around from city to city in an alcoholic haze, and done some things he's not proud of. But eventually, he ends up in a small town in New Hampshire, where he gets his act together and works in a CNA-type job at a hospice. He's known around the place as "Doctor Sleep," because he has an uncanny ability to help dying patients make their final journey in peace. The power of second sight, "the shining" which was so potent within him when he was a child, has dulled a bit, but it still has its uses.
And then Dan meets Abra Stone, a young girl who also has the shining, although hers is so strong that it has attracted the attention of the True Knot, a group of vampire-like creatures who have managed to extend their lives by capturing children with the shining and feeding off their essences (think Mother Gothel in Tangled). Dan and Abra join forces to outsmart the True Knot, which allows Dan to confront some of the demons of his past, as well.
Once again, I was totally wowed by Stephen King. This book lies solidly within his genre, and now I'm forced to recant my former snobbery and say that he tells a darn good story and he is a darn fine writer. The audiobook is fantastic, and even though the story is about a million hours long (20 or so, in actuality), I finished it in less than a week, because I was so eager to find a resolution to the story. And I'm reading The Shining now, so I guess that makes me a true Stephen King fan. I guess I should go to Hot Topic and find myself a Metallica t-shirt so I fit in.