11/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book broke my heart.
It wasn't the assassination of the President that did it. For most of the book, Kennedy himself is treated as either a martyr or the catalyst for our protagonist's little "project," and that exposes him to derision, contempt, and awe. The amount of time spent humanizing Kennedy amounts to perhaps half an hour, total; he isn't the heart and soul behind this book.
Neither was it the rather fascinating treatment that King gave the subject of time travel. He gave a nod to Bradbury, who wrote a short story called "Sound of Thunder" that was chilling in its illustration of the Butterfly Effect. King's butterfly, however, wasn't savage, like Bradbury; it was deranged, and its flutterings spawned hundreds of other butterflies that flew down different timestrings. Really awesome stuff.
No, the heartbreaking food of the book came in the relationship between Jake/George, our dual-personality time traveler, and Sadie, his tall, lovely, sweet and spirited librarian of the Land of Ago. I try not to spoil things, but at the end of the book, I shed some tears. I couldn't help it.
This isn't King's strongest work, but it is obviously his most exhaustively researched one. The late 50s/early 60s come alive here, and exposed through it is all the surface glory and the glossed-over dysfunction -- like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Read it, but be prepared to give it some serious time. Even so, you won't be disappointed.
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