This morning, before I got on with my day, I had to finish Doctor Sleep. To be honest I could have finished it days ago and, although I found the book hard to put down I also found it almost as hard to pick up. Why? Because I was afraid things were going to go very badly for the characters I had grown to love and I just couldn’t bear it if they did.
You see sometimes King does that. In the Dark Tower series terrible things happen to the characters we love the most. Same in The Stand. Sometimes, however, he is kind, and in the end I summoned up the courage to finish Doctor Sleep by convincing myself it would demonstrate the latter. I’m not going to tell you which he did, for that you’ll have to read the book, instead I’ll sum it up with the following tweet;
— Regina Giraffe (@Thessaily) January 4, 2014
Initially I thought I’d review the book, however, I realised I’m far too biased to do an honest job. You see I love Stephen King, even if he did a bad job I’d still love it. I’d forgive him most things and that means I cannot really give an honest and impartial view of the book. Instead I’ll settle for a quick summary of my thoughts on finishing Doctor Sleep.
I was asked by someone on Twitter whether I thought Doctor Sleep was as good as or better than The Shining. I responded by saying I didn’t think anything could ever really compare. The Shining is a great book, a powerful book. Doctor Sleep is not, it doesn’t quite have the strength evident in earlier works by King. It’s still a really good book, certainly better than anything I could ever hope to write. It’s comfortable, the work of a man who has really hit his stride, who can churn out excellent narratives with seemingly little effort.
I read the final twenty pages with tears in my eyes, the last time a King book did that it was The Green Mile. As always on finishing it I found myself disappointed. Disappointed that the book was finished. This happens a lot especially now I’ve read everything King has written which means I have nothing by him to look forward to, unless I want to reread something. (Incidentally the only other writer I have this issue with is Joe Hill – go figure!) My first thought was that I’d read The Shining again, but if I do I’ll want to read The Stand, if I do that then I’m certainly going to get dragged back into the world of The Dark Tower. I have too many books I’ve never read before that are waiting to be read, I cannot justify the time it would take to work my way through nine or ten King books I’ve read one, or more times, before. Nevertheless I found myself standing in front of my Stephen King bookcase (yes I have a whole bookcase dedicated to the man) considering old favourites and newer, not yet favourites. In the end I settled on a compromise. I will reread something by King but not one that will fully drag me back in (and hopefully not take too long to read) and that something shall be Cell. It’s my least favourite of his and possibly deserves another look, just in case I’m doing it an injustice. Then I can move on to the 100 plus books awaiting my attention (well that’s how many my lovely friend Stu has Dropboxed me, there are of course many more out there in the world waiting to be discovered).
Although I’ve already said I can’t, in good faith, present an impartial review I am aware I should at least try. It would be a pointless blog entry if I didn’t. So, Doctor Sleep is a gripping read, in places ultimately unputdownable. It sets out to answer reader’s questions on the fate of Danny ‘Doc’ Torrance and it does in a narrative that is endearing, harrowing and in places a little bit of a tearjerker. It is a story of one man’s salvation through the conquering of both childhood fears and the guilt adults burden themselves with. As always it is clear there is more than a little King in the character of Dan, as there no doubt was in the character of John ‘Jack’ Torrance in The Shining. You will reacquaint yourself with old villains alongside new and face heart-racing confrontations, mostly against the latter. You will discover how the past defines us and how that can be a good thing as well as a bad, and you will walk away both happy and sad.
Like I said it’s not really a review, more a summary of my personal thoughts and feelings on finishing the book. You are welcome to disagree, quite hopefully you will not.