Sunday, July 7, 2013

Book Review - Joyland by Stephen King


Joyland by Stephen King

From Goodreads: 

(may have some spoilers?!?!?)

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts," says Stephen King, who has combined these elements into a wonderful new story. Joyland is a whodunit noir crime novel and a haunting ghost story set in the world of an amusement park.
It tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a 'carny' in small-town North Carolina and has to confront the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the way both will change his life forever. It is also a wonderful coming-of-age novel about friendship, loss, and your first heartbreak. Who dares enter the funhouse of fear?

I haven't read Stephen King for a long time, and I had only read a couple. I probably have watched more Stephen King movies than read his books. The last one I read was probably IT, and that was 20 years ago. I remember I was quite proud of myself for having to finish it, since it was around 1000 pages, and probably the longest book I'd ever read, and my English wasn't that good then (not that it's that good now, but much better than before.) I did like it (I finished right?!) but I remembered thinking it was a bit too wordy or descriptive, and could probably be a bit shorter. Plus I didn't like the ending. Though you have to say it has some staying power because I still remember the gist of that story.

Anyway, so I never felt like I need to read another King, especially since the last movie I watched (The Mist? was just so-so. Much preferred Misery). But I'd been reading good things about Joyland from bloggers, and thought it's time I give him another try.

Plot-wise, it's just okay. But this man can write - I was totally sucked in, and I finished this book faster than a lot of other books I'd read this year. You really just want to keep reading to find out what happened. I could vividly "saw" what's happening as I read, as though I was the director and cinematographer of the movie. AND I didn't find it overly flowery or descriptive or wordy. Don't ask me how he did it as I am no expert on book analysis or English. He just did.

He totally made me want to go to a fun park now.  And especially go on a Ferris Wheel just so [Spoiler in white] I could fly, like a kite [/Spoiler].

I am giving this 3.5 Stars - why not higher? I will explain in the next paragraph, but it will contain spoiler, so be warned.

After I finished the book, I was wondering what "it is not white" meant... after some googling, some one mentioned that it probably referred to Lane's hair being not white... the hint is just too subtle I think, especially given that Mike said it a couple of times so I was expecting an a-ha moment. Or King could've made it a bit more explicit so we weren't left wondering - and I wasn't the only one who didn't quite get the hint.

Also, this is a ghost story. I don't know if I believe in ghosts or not (I haven't made up my mind). I do like a good ghost story - like, the Sixth Sense - but the ghosts in this story just seemed too convenient for the storyline. I did like that though it was Eddie Parks, and not Linda Gray, who saved Dev.

It also seemed a bit too contrived that Lane just stopped murdering girls....

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

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  1. I haven't read any King novel yet but this one sounds very appealing to me. It seems to have an air of a summer mystery.

    1. There is! Esp since it was set in summer time, like, NOW! :) I think you'd like it, as it is really more of a character/coming of age story than a mystery really.

  2. I've been contemplating this one. For the same reason. He has a way of sucking folks in.

    1. I know, I don't know how he does it! I should re-read On Writing (read a long time ago, but I prob have more appreciation of it now).

  3. Just finished this. I did manage to pick up on the "it's not white," but fully understand the confusion as it wasn't entirely straightforward. Maybe if Dev had noted that the loose strand he saw was white and not gray... regardless.

    This was certainly not what I was expecting. A bildungsroman? Really, Mr. King?

    Under the Dome was fantastic (the book. The show is meh).

    It was a really quick read. It's a piece of candy, not a meal.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I will add Under the Dome on my To-Read list!

  4. I started reading this book in the afternoon and had set it down a couple times to do silly stuff like cook dinner, etc. Was reading in bed and thought, I'll just stop after this chapter. But no, I couldn't stop , I had to read to the end and find out the killer. Good read.