Review: The Shining by Stephen King

The ShiningI have to re-read this book every so often because I forget how very amazing it is. I, for some disturbing reason, tend to blend the absolutely hideous rendering of Stanley Kubrick’s vision of The Shining and Jack Nicholson’s dreadful, over-the-top, and unsympathetic interpretation of Jack Torrance with the much better TV mini-series version with Stephen Weber as Jack. I think I’ve seen them too many times. However, reading Stephen King’s original novel manages to erase these images, albeit temporarily. His descriptions are that good. I get a completely different picture of Danny, Jack, Wendy, and Hallorann.

This book amazes me so much because, not only is it beautifully written, chocked full of imagery, figurative language, and symbolism, but it is done subtlety, never once trying too hard. The characterization is done with such sleight-of-hand intonation, dialects, and attitudes that I don’t even have to try and imagine them. They are real.

The best thing about this book, however, is King’s ability to parallel the personality changes one experiences in the descent into alcoholism with the slow takeover of the hotel’s malevolent presences. At times, it is not clear which is worse, living with a severe alcoholic or these haunting spirits. King manages to manipulate you into fearing and despising Jack one moment and then into sympathetic compassion the next, something completely lacking in Kubrick’s version, sadly, because this gives the novel its depth and literary value.

This is definitely one of Stephen King’s best! Five out of five stars!–Christina Knowles

Read my review of Doctor Sleep.

The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells

In this exciting and creepy classic, HG Wells asks us to look at ourselves and reevaluate what it means to be human and what is truly primitive. He suggests we are not separate from the natural world, and that deep inside we are still primitive, no matter how many cities we build or the advances we make. If we abandon our arbitrary morals and “law,” we will surely sink into our animalistic nature once again. In addition to these important themes, this book is just a great story and a fun read. Four out of five stars.

The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick

216363I really enjoyed this book. This is an alternate history science fiction novel that contains a story within a story. This story’s setting and premise is that Japan and Germany won WWII, and each controls a part of the former USA. “The Man in The High Castle” wrote a dangerously controversial book which is an alternate history where America and England won WWII. Various characters are all interwoven into the story and give their opinions on this book and what they think would have happened. The interesting thing is that the high castle author tells a story different from our reality.

Another common theme in the book is the use of the I Ching to foretell the future and guide the characters in the story. It is widely used by the characters, used by the high castle author to write the story within the story, and used by Dick himself to write this book. Mind-warping.

I was impressed how Dick tied all the characters together, showed themes as diverse as racism, cultural differences, war, and nationalism all the way to finding our own inner peace, spirituality, and integrity despite expectations and survival instincts.

However, I gave it three stars because I really disliked the anti-climactic ending, the unclear meaning of Julianna’s (one of the main characters who had the last scene in the novel) final words, the lack of resolution regarding two characters who I was very interested in, Frank Frink and Robert Childon. I want to know what happened to them! I do love how Tagomi’s last scene was played, however.

This is definitely one you need to read twice. I may give it four stars next time! P.S. Ignore the choppy sentence structure and lack of article adjectives in his writing! You get used to it, and adds something to the tension of the novel, I believe. Three out of five stars.

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