Author: Stephen King
Release Date: November 8, 2011
11/22/63 is a historical fiction novel that focuses on Jake Epping, the man who travels back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His friend, Al, the owner of a diner notorious for cheap hamburgers, reveals an invisible staircase to Jake that will take him back to the year 1958. Al had been planning to travel in time to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but has found himself in ill health. He instead asks Jake to go in his place. When Jake finds himself in the past, he not only attempts to stop the assassination, but other very unfortunate events as well. As Jake makes his way through the past, he soon discovers that the past does not like to be tampered with. He must navigate the past with caution, in an attempt to keep his secret hidden and to avoid upsetting the future.
Although the title refers strictly to the date of Kennedy’s assassination, the book is about so much more. Jake attempts to be somewhat of a guardian angel to people who he knows will end up suffering in the future. He moves around the country to stop unfortunate events before traveling to Texas. When he finally makes his way to Texas, he begins to work as a teacher in Jodie, a town not too far from Dallas. He makes friends and falls in love with the very likeable Sadie. As the date of the assassination draws closer, his focus then turns to Lee Harvey Oswald and Jake realizes that he might have to risk everything to achieve his ultimate goal. It is very apparent that King did a lot of research into the Kennedy assassination and he presents a lot of interesting information throughout the novel.
The book has a very authentic feel to it and I felt immersed in the era of the late 1950s-60s. I absolutely loved the picture that King was able to paint, from the dreary town of Derry to the small town of Jodie. Since the book was a long one, King had the ability to add an immense amount of detail to really bring the story to life. I think that the characters were portrayed perfectly and they all seemed to fit the era. The “rules” of time travel also made sense and every time that Jake went through the wormhole, the past would reset. He was also warned of the effects of changing the past too drastically and everything about King’s concept of time travel seemed to work well.
The only thing that I didn’t really like about this book was the ending. Jake comes back from living in the past and the future is completely post-apocalyptic. Due to the ripple effects of his time travel, horrible things occurred while he was gone and history drastically changed. He then travels back in time to reset what he has done, pretty much invalidating everything that he accomplished throughout the book. I feel like it was a bit of a let down, especially since he was attempting to improve the past for over 800 pages.
Besides the ending, I really enjoyed this book. I think that the characters were interesting and I really liked reading about Jake’s journey through time. I like the concept of time travel and King’s addition of the Card Man really added something different. The whole novel seemed to flow well, I just wish the ending would have been different.
If you have read 11/22/63, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view 11/22/63 on Amazon, please click here.