Friday, April 12, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King
Doubleday, 1977
Horror; 672 pgs

From the Publisher: 
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
Stephen King's books are infinitely readable.  I may like some more than others, but he spins a good yarn and his books are generally quick reads.  My interest in The Shining was more out of curiosity than actual interest in the story line.  For years people have talked about how frightening this book is.  If you've ever seen the show Friends, you know that Joey and Rachel found the book to be freezer worthy--meaning so scary they hid the book in the freezer.  This, I had to see for myself.  For some reason though, I got it into my head I had to read The Stand first (I know, totally unrelated book).  Finally, last year I did.

So, when I heard about the Shine On, a read-along of The Shining, I joined up, looking forward to tackling The Shining at last.  I have yet to be wowed by King, even though I keep hoping.  I liked The Stand well enough, but was disappointed I didn't like it more.  Cell was entertaining, but ultimately my least favorite King book so far.  I did like Misery though.  

I can definitely see why so many people get white knuckles while reading The Shining.  It was quite intense in parts, especially near the end as the book reached its climax.  By then I was so invested in the characters, it was a race to the end to see what would happen.  I have been fortunate not to have been spoiled as to the end (and I hadn't yet seen the movie).

While The Shining isn't my most favorite horror novel, it is probably among my favorite King novels of the four I've read so far.  I appreciated the depth the author went into in regards to the characters and their back stories, the foundation King laid, and the way the Overlook Hotel was much a character itself.  As much as King went into the history of the hotel, I wish I, as the reader, had a chance to explore it more.  

I never grew to like Jack, although at times I could empathize with him.  I'm not sure I would have been as patient and accommodating as his wife was with him in her situation, but one never really knows unless you walk in that other person's shoes for awhile.  Jack had a lot of problems, many unresolved.  He wasn't the most insightful guy. 

I did like Wendy, Jack's wife, to some degree, and not just because of her name.  I don't feel she was as well fleshed out as Jack and Danny were, but perhaps that was the point.  I got the impression she didn't have much of a self-esteen, a result of her past and a situation not helped by her husband.  I felt bad for her much of the time, stuck between a rock and a hard place

I liked Danny and really felt sorry for him, for his circumstances.  Here is this young boy with a preternatural gift that no one really understands.  He's had to grow up way too fast, and is now faced with much he doesn't understands.  King does a good job capturing the thoughts and fears of the five year old.  I often wanted to pull him out of the book and protect him from what I knew was sure to come.

I was most drawn to the more psychological thriller aspect of the book--watching one of the characters go down the road to madness, seeing how it could grip the mind and twist one's thinking, deluding not only the victim but those around him or her too.
I guess the big question is whether I found The Shining freezer worthy.  I can't say I did.  White knuckles while holding the book for those last hundred or so pages, perhaps.  But no, never did I have the urge to put the book in the freezer. 

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Stephen King and his books on the author's website

Source: I bought a copy of the book for my own reading pleasure.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

30 comments:

  1. I re-read this book for the first time since like 9th grade I think. On the spectrum of King books, I thought this one was subtle but creepy. It varied quite a bit from the movie, which drives me crazy, but I like them both. In my personal opinion, of all his books, 11/22/63 was the one that blew me away. I would highly recommend it, and if you do audio, that is the way to go.

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    1. Sandy - I will look into 11/22/63 in audio. It takes me forever to get through an audio book as it is, so I imagine an audio of that one would be quite an undertaking. Still, if you recommend it that way, that's the way I'll have to read it! :-)

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  2. When I clicked on this post to read it, audio came up in Spanish. I can't see where it is coming from and I can't turn it off! Anyone else?

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    1. Ti - I'm looking into it. Not being computer saavy, my husband is too but since he's at work today, it may take awhile. Those, like me, who use an adblocker, aren't likely to notice it (I wouldn't have without your mentioning it). Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  3. I haven't read this in so many years. I'd like to give it another whirl. Maybe I'll pick up a few Kings to read around Halloween time ;)

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    1. Jennifer - Halloween sounds like the perfect time to read King!

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  4. I haven't read this one, but I have seen the movie, and I am interested in it. I also don't think it would be freezer-worthy, but I do like scary books better than movies, so it could well be that I would like the book better than the movie. I do have a few of King's on my shelf, and the one I am most excited about is Under the Dome, though it's like 1000 pages! Very balanced and thoughtful review today, Wendy!

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    1. Heather - I wonder what books we would find freezer worthy. LOL I'm with you, I find books much scarier than the movies. And I certainly liked the book much more than the movie in this case.

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  5. That's funny, every time I hear the Shining I think of that Friends episode :)

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  6. Oh, and didn't Joey ruin the end on that Friends episode?

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    1. Nicole - Did he? I don't remember. It's been ages since I saw the episode though.

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  7. I didn't find The Shining very scary really. It was thrilling though. I agree with what you said about the overlook being pretty much a character itself. I love the history of the hotel.

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    1. Becky - I think that was my favorite part of the book--when Jack was reading up on the history of the Overlook.

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  8. I can never read this book because Shelley Duval was SOOO annoying to me in the movie that it has completely ruined my experience of the story. (Yep, I know that's weird.)

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    1. Elizabeth - Let's just say I am glad I read the book first. LOL

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  9. I do like this one but I don't think it is a great as many make it out to be. I enjoyed the movie tot, even though it was a departure from the book.

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    1. Kathleen - There are still a few King books I would like to read (not his most popular ones either) so will reserve judgement on whether I think this is among his best. The Stand might have beat it out if it hadn't been for that second half. I just couldn't get behind the second half of The Stand.

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  10. This book scares me! every time I read about the hedges moving, I get chills. And Danny - how horrifying to see things no one else sees, and know he can't say anything. Those brains at the beginning of their stay - gosh, I'm getting the creeps writing about it now! This is one of my favourite horror novels, on my top 10 list. I can only read it when people are around, or I get too scared.....

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if you didn't find it 'white-knuckle' like I do. I'm thrilled, really, because you did like it! yaay!

    I've seen both tv movie versionsm too. The little girls appearing to Danny like that scared me so much when I first saw it (I was 16) that for years I was terrified of looking up stair cases in case they were there. I have a much too active imagination! lol

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    1. Susan - Oh my gosh, that was scary! A house near my daughter's school has animal topiary, and I found myself not wanting to linger too long as we walked by right after reading the book.

      I don't know if--or when--I'll be able to see the mini series version of The Shining, although I do want to. I did watch the Stanley Kubrick version. I considered adding my thoughts in with my review, but decided at the last minute not to.

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  11. It's been soooo long since I've read this one. I gobbled up King when I was a teen and can admit to getting freaked out by Christine!!

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    1. Staci - I don't know why I didn't read King when I was a teen. I read a lot of John Saul though--I loved his books.

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  12. This isn't a favorite of mine, but it was okay. Did you see the movie yet? So diferent.

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    1. Stacy - I have seen the movie. I considered doing a joint review, but decided against it. I don't have much to say about the movie though so think I'll do a mini review.

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  13. I read this one when it came out and remembering it really scaring me. But then I just realized that I only have it rated 3 stars on GoodReads so I must not have loved it as much as I've lately been thinking I did. Still well worth the time and I loved the creepys that it gave me.

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    1. Lisa - That's happened to me before--where I think more of a book now than I must have when I read it. Or, more often, the opposite. LOL

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  14. Your review makes me think that maybe I could read this one. I was going to participate in the read-along but I ended up wimping out. LOL! I really do want to read it though (even if I will NEVER EVER watch the movie). Great review!

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    1. Samantha - I think you could read this one safely enough. :-)

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