Author: Stephen King
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Joyland is a gripping thriller about 21-year-old Devin Jones, who recounts his summer working at a North Carolina amusement park that has a paranormal legacy. Upon securing his summer job, Devin soon learns of the murder of Linda Gray that occurred on a haunted Joyland attraction called the Horror House. As Devin tries to piece together the mysterious murder of Linda Gray, a fortune teller tells him of a boy and a girl who will come into his life. Soon enough, Devin encounters both of these children, one of which has an extraordinary talent. With the help of his friend Erin and Mike Ross, the little boy with an otherworldly gift, Devin discovers Linda Gray’s killer and is changed forever by his summer at Joyland.
Although Steven King is most famous for his horror novels, this novel is far from scary. In fact, it’s just as much of a coming of age story as it is a thriller. Devin goes through heartbreak, a summer job, worries about how he will pay for college, meets new friends, and struggles to decide what he wants to do with his future. I never felt like the paranormal elements were taking over the human elements in this story and I really appreciated that. I’m not the biggest fan of the horror genre, so this had just enough eeriness to keep me on my toes, but it certainly didn’t keep me up at night.
I really enjoyed the narrator’s voice in this novel. The dialect was very nostalgic, without any modern slang, and I really liked how it stayed true to its 1973 time period. The entire novel is actually told from the perspective of Devin Jones when he is a 60-year-old man, looking back on the summer that changed his life. Although I didn’t mind it being told from an older Devin’s perspective, I could have done without 60-year-old Devin flashing back and forth between 1973 and present day. I enjoyed the story of Joyland so much, I didn’t want to leave it. I also enjoyed “the Talk” that King introduces the reader to, which is the slang that the carnies used at Joyland.
I think that Joyland was layered wonderfully with different subplots and I think King did an incredible job of linking them all together. I loved the world of Joyland and Devin’s experiences with Mike and Annie Ross, who live in a beachfront Victorian home outside of Joyland. His friendships with Erin and Tom seemed so genuine and I enjoyed the cast of characters that King created. Every character seemed to have a purpose, from the girl who broke Devin’s heart to the perpetually angry Eddie Parks. The ending was very satisfying and I felt I felt like it was the perfect way to end the book.
If you have read Joyland, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view Joyland on Amazon, please click here.