I am a huge Stephen King fan and have read almost every book he’s written. It’s been on my to do list for awhile now, but I’ve finally gotten around to writing my 11/22/63 review. I admit I wasn’t too keen on the story idea when I first heard about it. To me it sounded a little too much like The Dead Zone (ie. killing a man to change the future.) However, once I got about 20 pages in those feelings dissipated and I was totally hooked.
It’s about a man named Jake Epping (aka George Amberson) whose friend Al discovers a time portal in the pantry of his diner. Al convinces Jake to go back in time and prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, hopefully changing the course of history. As with any time travel story, there are certain rules that come into play.
1. The portal always takes you to the same day September 9, 1958 at 11:58am.
2. When you go back through the portal to your time (2011 in this case), only 2 minutes have passed.
3. According to Al, every time you go back to 1958 the timeline resets. This means if you do something in 1958 that changes the future, it will be undone if you go back again.
There’s more to it than that, but I dont want to give too much away. The idea that I found most interesting in 11/22/63 is that the past doesn’t want to be changed. Unseen forces will try to stop you if you attempt to change history, and the bigger the change, the harder it tries. Imagine how hard it would try if you were trying to prevent the assassination of a President. Since the portal takes Jake to 1958, and the assassination takes place in 1963, he needs to spend five years living in the past. Of course he encounters certain historical figures along the way, makes friends, and falls in love. He even meets a few members of the “Losers’ Club” during his stay in Derry, Maine.
One of the problems I had with Under The Dome, was that there were so many characters it needed a cast list. 11/22/63 is told entirely from Jake’s perspective, which really made me root for the character. You want him to succeed, and when things go wrong you really feel for him. It’s a long book (as usual) but I was always interested and it’s never boring. I read a lot of Stephen King books, and I can honestly say it’s the best book of his that I’ve read in a decade. If you’re a fan of his early work, I highly recommend you check out 11/22/63.