11/22/63

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 2011

I read it: December 2012

112263

This King selection is a breezy read that starts off strong, with an intrepid protagonist getting wrapped up in time-travel intrigue. The first third or so, when he goes back to 1958 to prevent a lesser crime than the one referred to by the title, is suspenseful and engaging. The middle chunk really loses steam, as our character does not have enough difficulties in his life in the past; rather, he thrives as a citizen of the time, finding a fulfilling job and a good woman. For many chapters, he idly spies on Lee Harvey Oswald but never comes close to real danger. By book’s end he and his lady have suffered some physical harm, but there is not much that keeps the pages turning, even as the assassination attempt approaches.

In the last sliver of the book there is some cool speculation on the time-travel setup and its implications, as well as alternate-timeline adventuring. But this is too slight to really feel like a payoff. Overall, I did not think the protagonist got into the whole thing emotionally—he wasn’t transformed into a half-mad person out of his time, wrapped up in a tale no one else could believe. He was never brought to the edge of breakdown, and therefore the events of 11/22/63 never really seemed to hang in the balance.

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