Tag: 11.22.63

Stephen King – Bag of Bones | Review

Title: Bag of Bones

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 660

Rating 2/5



Well, I finally found a Stephen King book that I didn’t enjoy. Goodness me, it was just incredibly dull and difficult to engage with. I didn’t care about the characters, the antagonist wasn’t even a villain, and while there were supernatural elements, they were super minor for 550 pages and then suddenly went nuts at the end. It just didn’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like what King set out to do here. I guess this was written during his “literary horrorperiod, after he got sober and before he found his feet again. Some people (Todd the Librarian, for example) say that after King sobered up, he was never the same. I disagree because he has some great recent novels like 11/22/63, but I do think that his hit to miss ratio took a big hit when he cleaned up.

But I don’t have a problem with that, and I’ve already decided that I’m going to work my way through everything that King has ever written. I’d also rather that he lived longer instead of burning himself out, because occasional bad books are offset by the fact that he’s also written plenty of other good ones.

This one felt a lot like filler, and I think he could have told the story a lot better if he’d dropped it to half the length. There were also a few good ideas in there, and it’s not exactly badly written, it was just super boring. I rated it a 2/5 based on my enjoyment of it, but objectively I guess I’d say it’s around a 3/5. I also know a few different people who love this book, and so I guess as always it’s a case of different strokes for different folks.



It also doesn’t help that I’ve read enough King books by now that I’m bored of reading about characters who are writers. He’s done it to death, and I wasn’t a particular fan of it even to begin with. They say you should write what you know, but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken that literally. Plus it’s not like he knows about all of the creepy stuff that he writes about, and if he can come up with that then surely he can come up with someone who isn’t a writer.

I also wasn’t a fan of the back story here. It’s one of those where we keep having little flashbacks to the past until eventually the past and the present come together. I’ll agree that when it works well, it really works, but I also think that it’s pretty rare for authors to nail it, and I don’t think King did it here. It got to the point where things were being revealed towards the end and I just didn’t care because it had taken far too long to get to that point and I wasn’t that interested to begin with.

Overall then, I’m not about to recommend this unless you’re a completionist and you want to read all of Stephen King’s stuff, and even then I think you should go in with low expectations. I only got a couple of hundred pages in before I realised that I didn’t want to keep it as my main book. Instead, I switched it out as the book that I read before bed, and it’s true that it helped me to fall asleep. Apart from the times when it made me rage so much that I had to wake my girlfriend up to rant about it.

I think the main problem is just my own expectations of Stephen King’s stuff. I’m a fan of his and love reading his stuff, but then I get to a book like this and it’s just a disappointment. Avoid it unless you’re determined to read it.  



Click here to buy Bag of Bones.

Stephen King – 11.22.63 | Review

Title: 11.22.63

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 742

Rating: 9/10


Stephen King - 11.22.63

Stephen King – 11.22.63


Right, where do I start? For the uninitiated, and those with no background in American history, the title of this novel refers to the date on which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It was a murder that shocked the whole world, and this book explores what would happen if you could go back in time and change things.

And so, to some extent, we come to one of the few problems that I had with this book. Time travel has been overdone, especially when we’re talking about going back to avert some sort of catastrophe, and I was worried that this book would fall under the umbrella of those awful ‘let’s kill Hitler!’ books and TV shows that are riddled with cliches. Of course, King is a master at his craft, and so he managed to avoid it in the novel, but I still had a bad aftertaste throughout, purely because it felt a little like he was stooping low.

This is, after all, the man who wrote The Shining, IT, the Dark Tower series, the Green Mile, Carrie, and all sorts of other books which have entered popular culture. I also wasn’t a fan of the actual title – purely because I’m British and we don’t style our dates like that over here (it should’ve been called 22.11.63) – and I saw the ending coming about two hundred pages before it actually arrived.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Other than that, though, I can’t fault this. It really was a gripping read, as King’s work always is, and even though the book is ostensibly about someone trying to stop the Kennedy assassination, I actually had more fun along the way. In typical King style, there all sorts of side and subplots that sit alongside the actual story line, and the characters are well-written and real products of the age.

Which brings me on to another point. You see, this book actually makes you feel as though you’re really there, by evoking a sense of time and place that’s unparalleled, at least from my point of view. Don’t get me wrong – King is a master world-builder, and it’s clear throughout his work, but here it’s something else. I can’t comprehend the level of research that he must have put into it, and in the mind’s eye it’s like watching a movie. A black and white movie, more like a reel that you found in a garage than an over-the-top Hollywood blockbuster.

Damn it – now thinking about garages is reminding me where Lee Harvey Oswald kept his rifle.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Anyway, there’s a lot to be said about this book, and even though this is one of my longer reviews, there’s not enough space to say it. But it is home to a number of interesting concepts that make you think, and they help to fight off cliche and to make you see time travel in a new way. There’s a mention of the butterfly effect, of course, but what really interested me was the idea that time fights back. It’s not that the past is malevolent, as such – it’s just that it doesn’t like change, and trying to fight the past gets harder and harder the more that your actions will change the future. If you’re going to try it, be prepared for literally everything to go wrong – don’t walk under scaffolding in case it falls down on you.

I also liked the way that King was almost self-referential – I spotted a few references to his other books here and there, as well as a mention of the Takuro Spirit, created by a fictitious vehicle manufacturer that I last saw in the Dark Tower series. There was even a line that verged on self-parody, where the book’s narrator (it’s told in first person, say thankya) said that love is a uniquely portable magic. There’s a King quote that goes, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Sound familiar?

Overall then, it’s still a mind-blowing read, and while I almost wanted to dislike it before I started, by the end I was left with that whole forehead-slapping, hand-clapping, “Gosh darn it, he’s done it again!” thing going on. If you’ve read King before and you liked it, you’ll love this. If not, it’s not a bad place to start, as long as you’re confident that you can stick with a long book for a long time.


Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote


Click here to buy 11.22.63.