11/22/63:A Novel by Stephen King, Scribner, November 2011
It is part historical fiction, part sci fi, and part love story...rewarding and enjoyable
Nothing appeals to me quite as strongly as a good time travel story and this is a good one! The protagonist is Jake Epply a high school teacher who becomes a time traveler. He always returns to the same date in Maine in 1958. Each trip provides a complete reset, that is any actions Epply took that changed the past in a prior trip are erased. Initially Epply works to prevent some local tragedies in Maine but eventually he decides that preventing the assassination of John Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 will lessen the world’s problems. He sets out to prevent Oswald from killing Kennedy. I really don’t want to reveal too much of the plot here because the suspense is key to enjoyment here.
Let me spend a few words on why I thought this was such a good story. The period detail that the author brings to this story is great, he gets the 1950s early 60s just right, down to the music, the clothes, and the simplicity of the life style. The details of the Kennedy assassination are spot on. The characters are very well drawn and you end up caring about all of the major characters. For me the love story between Epply and Sadie was brilliant, I enjoyed it as well as any other part of the story. I thought the plot was superb, there were enough twists and turns to keep you interested and while the story was a sci fi, I found it believable or at least not outrageous. The decisions that the Jake Epply made were very human not contrived in any way. Lastly, I loved the ending which was clever and heartening.
So if you haven’t read much Stephen King, and I haven’t because I am not a horror genre fan, you should consider this novel. It is part historical fiction, part sci fi, and part love story. It is a big book (800+ pages) but one I found rewarding and enjoyable.