Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Shining by Stephen King

Wow. Where do I even begin? I now understand the world's obsession with Stephen King. Why did I wait until 2013 to start reading him? I'm not sure now. I've loved most of the movies as long as I can remember. I love horror stories. What's wrong with me? Haha.

RECAP: Danny Torrance is a special boy. He's touched, has a gift, the ability to see things he shouldn't -- like into people's minds, into the future, things from the past.

Jack Torrance is a struggling man. Mediocrity and failure have followed him since his abusive childhood, but he has a loving wife and a good boy. After making some mistakes, he gets a second chance -- a job to get them through for a while that will also provide free lodging and food. So he takes his family up to the Overlook Hotel in Colorado so he can be the caretaker over the winter months.

They arrive on closing day, where they meet the cook, Dick Halloran, who instantly sparks with Danny. The special bond comes from what Dick calls "the shining," the gifts that Danny has above and beyond the others Dick has met.

As they settle in and prepare for winter, strange events start to unfold -- voices, lingering presences, moving topiaries, and the like.

While the snow cuts them off from the rest of the world, the Overlook stirs to collect its prize...

REVIEW: I have NEVER read a book with so much set up and build up information and storyline that didn't feel like filler or wordiness. I seriously felt that every detail King provided about this family's history was necessary to properly tell the story of what happens to the Torrances over their time at the Overlook.

The characters in this story are all very well-developed -- Danny, Wendy, Jack, Dick, and most importantly, the Overlook Hotel and its denizens. Yes, it's fair to say that while Danny is the main protagonist, the hotel itself is just as much a main character as he is.

This book masters the haunted house story, as well as the "cut off from the rest of the world" feeling, the buildup of impending dread, and the creation of a rich history surrounding the hotel and the family.

King's novel does a much better job of showing this family as a normal family -- one that has its issues but still is happy and loves each other -- and how the hotel tears this family apart than the movies do. Kubrick's film unfortunately makes Jack's character appear insane before the real story begins, whereas the novel makes you go through his transformation and eventual loss of himself. Terrifyingly sad, really. It shows how the hotel can chip away at the man's weak points and destroy him.

I seriously enjoyed this novel, and can't wait to read more of his classics. Now, I'm off to go rewatch both Kubrick's film and the TV miniseries of The Shining. This is definitely on my re-read list. :)

Check it out on Amazon: The Shining.

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