Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book procurement: Bought at Exclusive Books.
Release Date: Jul 5, 2012.
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
Gee this book was long. 700 (740 if you add author’s notes) pages of time travelling goodness. Well it started off that way but… let me not jump the gun.
So the premise is quite simple. Jake Epping is dragged into going back in time to stop the assassination of J.F. Kennedy. He’s just a simple English teacher with zero CIA/FBI/Time Patrol training, only a stack of notes that Al Templeton, the person who convinced him that time travel was not only possible, it was also just behind his pantry, had compiled about the assassination and the person who killed J.F.K. – Lee Harvey Oswald. He jumps back to 1958 – and proceeds to ignore every warning and do whatever he pleases. Okay maybe that’s not fair but come on Jake, what were you doing!
The novel is written in first person perspective, giving us insight into the mental workings of Jake Epping. He’s intelligent. He’s resourceful. He’s human. His humanity makes him both vulnerable and prone to stupidity, especially considering he’s a man from 2011 going back 50 years to a world where he is not born yet. Has he heard of the butterfly effect? He has. Does he live in light of it? Gee, I don’t know. Have you read any Stephen King novels? You know how it’s going to go right? *bangs head on table*
The book starts off slow. Not boring, mind you, but slow nonetheless. Jake takes a trip through the course of history and changes a few things here and there for the sake of preventing something awful in the future. The results are not what he expects… which should be a given considering he’s messing with time travel. (Are time travelers always trying to mess up the time line? *Looks askew at The Flash, Morty McFly). It never ends well does it?
Did I enjoy the book? Well… it started off really well. King has a tendency of providing foresight to what’s about to happen (as he usually does) which builds tension. I like that. He also likes to create coincidences that aren’t really coincidences that the main characters see, internalise in a monologue, and then completely ignore anyway. Like… what? Oh and that ending? The one part I saw coming as it was about to happen. It was the only way it should have happened. The second part I was like “Huh? Well okay then.” and you know what, that’s okay.
As usual, King’s characters are on point. Authentic. Believable. And he doesn’t spare them a dime. Imagine the worst thing that could happen to a character… and then keep making it worse into a downward spiral. Yeah. That’s King for you.
Rating: A meh 3 out of 5.