Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review - Doctor Sleep by: Stephen King

Title: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 531
Series: The Shining #2
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase


Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

My thoughts:

WARNING: This review reads a bit like an editorial because I got all excited.

When I think about Stephen King, here’s what comes to my mind: pig blood, scary clowns (well, all clowns are scary, really), jumping in terror even to the tiniest sound while reading one of his novels in bed at night… Stephen King is an author who leaves a mark on every reader. Even those who haven’t read any of his novels have most likely watched a movie adaptation whether they knew it or not.

Born in 1947, the author started his writing career by submitting stories to magazines. In his book On Writing, he openly says that he got rejection after rejection in the beginning. He writes 10 pages a day, which equals to 2,000 words, and his writing days include Christmas, 4th of July and even his birthday.

King married his wife Tabitha in 1971, and within that same year, he started teaching English at the Hampden Academy in Maine. He continued writing in the evenings and on the weekends, working on short stories as well as novels. In 1973, Carrie was bought by Doubleday & Co. Due to sales going really well, King was able to become a full-time writer. I’m sure you can imagine the rest considering his books are bestsellers all over the world today. He has such a following that fans stop by his house to take a picture when they’re in Maine.

I’ve been away from him and his work for a while now, but The Shining is one of those books I can still vividly remember. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson, the movie with the same name is among cult movies today. In The Shining, Jack Torrance, an alcoholic and a generally cranky person, moves into Overlook Hotel with his wife Wendy and 5-year-old son Dan. The hotel is closed, and Jack will be the caretaker during the off season, while he tries to complete the novel that he’s writing. Add Overlook Hotel’s history with Dan’s supernatural powers and you get a creepy, scary story.

While mentioning The Shining, I should also mention that it still exists in popular culture today. One of the greatest examples is the video for The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars:
And recently, Glee redid a popular scene from Carrie in the “Tine in the Sky With Diamonds” episode:
In Doctor Sleep, our main character is Dan Torrance, who’s all grown up now. He works in nursing homes, helping the elderly pass on when their time comes, which is how he gets the nickname Doctor Sleep. If you read The Shining, you’ll remember that he’s one of the 3 survivors of Overlook Hotel. Of course, you wonder what might have happened to him later in his life. In the author’s note, Stephen King confesses that he often thought about this as well. During a reading, one of his readers asked him, “What happened to the kid from The Shining?” King also confesses that it was scary for him to write this book—he also reminds readers that this is a continuation of the book, not the movie.

Even though Dan doesn’t want to become his father, he’s also an alcoholic when we meet him. He does get work at nursing homes, but he doesn’t stay in one place for too long. Of course, he’s still traumatized by the events that took place at the Overlook Hotel, and also by his powers. When he arrives in Teenytown, he finds an AA group with the help of the people he meets there, and he quits drinking. He also starts working at the town nursing home.

Another important character in the book is the 12-year-old Abra Stone. She also has the “shine” like Dan does, and she gets in touch with Dan using her powers. In addition, King created a group who call themselves “The Others,” which makes things even more complicated because they feed off the powers of people like Dan and Abra. On the end, you get a story that keeps you wondering what might happen next.

While reading the book, I also came across a movie called “Room 237,” in which filmmakers explore Kubrick’s The Shining movie. I think it’s a good reference for people who are interested in The Shining or filmmaking because it shows you details I’m sure you’ve missed while watching the movie.
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