11/22/63 by Stephen King

Mike’s review

Plot summary: A Maine teacher is shown a wormhole that takes him back to 11/22/63. The person who shows him the wormhole convinces Jake (the teacher) that the most important thing he could possibly do with the wormhole is prevent the assassination of JFK. But he needs to be sure Lee Harvey Oswald acted (acts?) alone. So he spends a bunch of time track Oswald. He falls in love. The past fights back because it doesn’t want to be changed.

There were a solid handful of logical fallacies/lack of thought-out plans that frustrated me here. A friend gave me a hard-sell on this book and I think I expected more. There seemed to be a lot of waiting around, which seemed silly. And a lot of poor decisions made that were pretty obviously poor just to add tension. And there could have easily been exciting bits just by exploring the past and seeing what the world was like then. Overall, I thought a lot more could have been done in a book which was so large.


78 pages read in the first day. Which, after not finishing Unaccustomed Earth because I just couldn’t, was a nice change of pace. Not that this is especially good. It didn’t pull me in until the end of the day, but it’s readable and enticing.


Why would you stay in Derry for two months? Go do something. See the baby-world. Why just hang out in nowhereseville?


Wouldn’t it be more efficient to go back to present day and ask Harry his father’s name/where they lived as kids?


I suppose I should point out that there was a bit with the yellow card man that creeped me out pretty hard. I didn’t write it down, but I think it was when his card turned black. Again, though, I think the yellow card man was another thing that could have been mined that was mostly ignored. There was very little about the ethos of time travel and exploring the yellow card man could have easily done that.


Kinda slow while waiting for Oswald. Surprising because it’s a rollicking presence and didn’t expect this pacing from King, but makes sense given when wormhole drops off. And, ultimately, the stakes are raised by this lull. Harder to go back each time because he’s given up so much of his current life.


Why not use spare time to learn Russian? At least acknowledge it: “Not a possibility, would raise suspicion that I was a commie sympathizer. And without a past to vet…” It’s probably dumb of me to bring up logical fallacies in this sort of thing, but these brought me out of the story a lot.


Isn’t it significantly more likely that de Mohreaschildt  (I’m not looking that up to see if I copied the spelling correctly) was an orchestrator than actually having pulled the trigger? And if Oswald’s dead, he’ll just have someone else do it?


And why not kill Oswald in New Orleans so you have some getaway lead to get to Jodie?


How could it possibly be a good idea to bring Sadie to the future? Best case: she gets her face fixed but lives in isolation/constant surprise/wonder. Worst case: she dies when going through the wormhole.


And a few notes about the Hulu series I watched after reading the book, too:

Good decision with Al’s voiceover-guided narration. I was worried about long stretches with no human interaction and this solves that and makes sure we don’t take forever setting up all the rules/guidelines.

Carving the tree is such a simpler way to prove you can change the future in the past. Haha. The convoluted bits that King used were one of the things that were actually super illogical that didn’t pull me out of the story at the time.

I wasn’t super into the series either, but if you feel like you’re only going to pick one, I think I’d choose the series due to it being less of a time commitment. It felt less disappointing, but that might be because I was already disappointed by the book and maybe my expectations were lower. I really wanted to like both of these and I didn’t. They weren’t bad, but I expected greatness and got mediocrity.


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