Monday, October 21, 2013

Doctor Sleep

Every once in a while, something comes along that not only meets your expectations, it exceeds it. Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, has done that for me.
I'm sure I'm not alone in getting to the end of many books and wondering, "What's next?" Most of the time writers don't tell you because what happens afterward isn't that interesting. But in the case of Danny Torrance, who survived the horrors of the Overlook Hotel, it felt like there had to be more there.
Writing Doctor Sleep took a lot of cojones for Stephen King. Sure, he's the master of horror and people are going to buy what he writes no matter what. But The Shining is a classic, and to screw that up with a sequel that wasn't any good would have been a shame.
In Doctor Sleep, we meet a grown-up Danny Torrance. Not surprisingly, he is one messed up dude. When he is called upon to help a little girl named Abra who shines even stronger than he did, things begin to change. Abra is in danger, but not from the ghosts who tried to claim Danny at the Overlook. The True Knot are living, breathing people who feed off children like Abra. Just like Dick Halloran was the only one who could save Danny, it's only Danny who can help Abra. Along the way, there are some great plot twists that I never saw coming.
I'll admit, it took me a few weeks to read Doctor Sleep. Looking back, I'm happy I took so long reading it. It was good for me to spend some time with these characters and get attached to them. By reading it slowly, I was able to savor it. The last hundred pages or so are really a thing of beauty. I found myself in tears several times, and when it ended I felt a sense of closure.
And so Doctor Sleep has found its way onto my list of favorite Stephen King books. It's the second of his books to work his way there this year—I also really loved 11/22/63. It took me four years to read one of his books after Under the Dome. I hated that book so much. I think it suffered from being too long, which I have found true in more than one of his books. I think King is at his best when he's under 500-600 pages or so. Anything more than that, and I feel like the middle 400 pages can be skipped. He really shines in his shorter books and short stories.

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