What would you do if you could walk into your basement, and be transported into the 1950’s? That is a situation Jake Epping is faced with when his buddy Al tells him a secret about his basement at his diner. Apparently this is no ordinary basement, but some kind of time warp that allows you to freely go into the 1950’s. However, every time you step into this timewarp, you are placed on the same day in the 1950’s, and when you come back, only two minutes have passed in the present. Confusing, huh?
Well, it really makes more sense if you read the book 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I have dreaded writing this review, because the book was excellent, and there is so much I want to say. However, there really isn’t a lot that I can say without spoiling the book drastically, which is usually the case when dealing with a book that deals with all these different variables involved with time travel and suspense. However, the basic plot is Al realizes that if someone can wait around long enough in the 1950’s/ 60’s and prevent the killing of JFK, then the whole world would be drastically better. So, he confronts Jake in taking upon this mission. The entire time, as with many stories that deal with time travel, the reader is constantly plagued with the “what ifs” of the situation, and the mind boggling issues that come to stake when changing the past.
I loved this book, and this really isn’t a typical science fiction/time travel book. It really is more of a realistic fiction/historical fiction/fantasy book. I know my genre classification makes no sense, but I think that is an accurate portrayal of what happens in this book. The book has a lot of historical facts about the 1950’s and the whole situation dealing with JFK, which I found incredibly interesting. He especially goes into great detail about what Lee Harvey Oswald’s home life was, which shed some light on who he was as a person. I am sure some of this was speculation, but I am interested in doing some research myself to find out more about this day in history, and the home life of Lee Harvey Oswald.
I also felt this book has a lot of deep characterizations. I got really attached to the characters in this story, which I didn’t necessarily expect given the premise of the story. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Stephen King’s characters, as the people in his books always seem very dimensional. There is also the added aspect of romance in this book, which assists in some evolution of suspense. I felt that the romance in the book wasn’t overdone, but it was enjoyable, and I overall appreciated the strong female characters this book had.
During Jake’s time in the 1950’s and 1960’s, there are forces at hand that don’t want The Past to change. This is another aspect that I have always enjoyed about King. Many times, the bad guy isn’t necessarily a person, it is a force. In this book, you had an eerie feeling with you the entire time that something was always moving against Jake. This is a theme in many of King’s books, where the forces many times are not always personified, but may take form of an ongoing entity, or even the city itself seems to be an evil being.
The subject of unseen forces moves me into something that I truly loved about this book, because the character goes into one of the cities frequently used in King’s books, Derry. King tied the book It to 11/22/63, and crossed over by taking his character into Derry, which was one of the cities that seemed to be an evil force in itself in some ways. In It, the events of the characters when they were children take place in the 1950’s. Well, Jake actually runs across some of the characters on his journey briefly, and when he makes a stop in Derry, many mention the murders of some of the children, including the young boy, Georgie, from It. King usually uses some of his cities, such as Derry and Castlerock, in his books, but to see this crossover into that world was kind of awesome. This may happen in a lot of books, and I have just been out of the Kingaverse for awhile, but I got a kick out of it. It has been awhile since I read a Stephen King book, but I loved him growing up. I think after reading this book, I may definitely go back check out some of King’s non-horror books.
* This book did make me wonder what I would do if I was able to go back into the 1950’s. The only thing I could think of was the delicious sounding root beer Jake discusses in the book, and I am pretty sure that would be my first stop. I need to bust out my poodle skirt and find me a basement so I can hunt down an old fashioned root beer float.
*I don’t have a poodle skirt……
……..or a time traveling basement…….