In my last post I wrote about my thoughts on The Shining and having loved it I decided it would be a great idea to read its 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep. Returning to the now middle-aged and alcoholic Danny Torrance (sound familiar?), the story follows his journey into embracing the shining after coming off the booze, and his work helping terminal cancer patients reach the ‘other side’. I was pleased to see Danny using his abilities for a great cause and it was interesting to see that he had inherited a drinking problem from his father. The start of the book was promising and the continuation of the Torrance’s story after the Outlook Hotel allowed for some closure for fans of The Shining. However prior knowledge of the book is not essential as this also acts as a ‘previously on’ for the new reader.
In spite of this the introduction of Abra was for me, the decline of the book. There were parts where it felt more like young adult fiction than a Stephen King novel, as the sporadic pop culture references seemed like an attempt to relate to a younger audience. That aside the overall characterisation of Abra was pretty good for a middle aged, male author but I still feel that like Danny in The Shining, some parts of her mannerisms seemed too mature for her age. Again, this may be because of her ability to read the dark thoughts of the adults around her but the juxtaposition of her maturity with her love of her cuddly rabbit seemed out of place.
Another criticism I had was with the discovery that Danny and Abra’s mother were long lost half-siblings. The idea of Jack Torrance sleeping around during his drunken tirades is plausible but the fact that Danny happened to have a psychic connection with his niece just seems a bit far fetched.
Other than that I did enjoy Doctor Sleep and I would definitely read it again. The True Knot were adequate villains (although very easy to kill for steam sucking monsters), and the character of Rose the Hat was probably one of my favourites. I would have liked to learn more about her backstory but I suppose that would take up too much word space. I also loved that the Shining ability was explored more thoroughly and that we got to see how Danny and Wendy coped after the Overlook Hotel. Overall it was a good novel that had enough strong points to hold it up. 3/5
In completing my English Literature degree with a 2:1 classification (yay), I finally have the time to read fiction for fun again!
Of course being left with an unlimited array of genres to choose from I decided to read three books at the same time. However when I began the third book The Shining I physically couldn’t put it down so completed it without distraction within a few days.
I had never read any of Stephen King’s novel prior to this but had seen a few film adaptions of his work, The Shining included. I was pretty shocked however to discover that the book is almost completely different in tone and theme to Kubrick’s version.
In the book Jack is a good father to Danny (albeit flawed) and shows genuine love and compassion to his family, light-years away from Jack Nicholson’s psychotic maniac.
But, I don’t wish to scrupulously compare the two versions as this is a review of the book after all!
The narrative is somewhat slow paced at the start as the Torrance family relationships are thoroughly explored. Nonetheless I felt this was necessary for the horror later on and did not get bored at all. Although Jack suffers from alcoholism and anger issues King makes it clear that he wants to change, for the sake of his family, a reason why he takes the caretaker job at the Overlook in the first place. Setting this up allows for the true horror of the hotel’s possession of Jack, especially when he manages to temporarily break through at the end of the novel to tell Danny that he loves him and becomes the hero of the story by turning the roque mallet on himself (a much stronger ending than the film).
I also loved Danny’s character and the idea of the Shining, although I did feel like he was way too eloquent for a five year old who is learning to read. I guess he would be more mature than others his age due to the fact that he can hear adults’ thoughts, but he says pretty big words for a small child.
I was also surprised that there was less ‘horror’ conventions than I first expected in a King novel, but on reflection the horror lay in The Outlook’s influence on the characters’ minds (especially Jack), rather than the ghosts themselves.
Overall I really enjoyed The Shining and have never felt so tense and jumpy whilst reading a book. Its the first novel in a while that I have been ardent to get back to, and I felt the whole consuming force of the Overlook’s possessive power. 4.5/5