Monday, October 21, 2013

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

This is the sequel to The Shining, and, as such, I had to push this one to the front of the reading line. Although it wasn’t as good as the first book, it still had many classic King moments.

The book follows Dan, who is the little Danny Torrance, all grown up now. We see as he struggles to fight off his alcoholism and his traumas that stem from his experiences at the Overlook Hotel. The book’s pacing is as great as all of King’s books, keeping the tension as taut as possible for as long as possible. There are many references to The Shining, so you do have to read that one before picking this one up, but it really is its own story.

Dan is a great character, flawed and trailing plenty of demons, literally and metaphorically, and the reader can’t help but root for him at all times. Abra is another interesting character, though I do wish we’d have gotten a bit about her. She doesn’t leave as strong an impression on us as some of the other characters.

The showdown scene is good, but it is not as strong as some of King’s other climactic moments. It feels just a bit rushed, which is not his usual way of writing these scenes. There are some very fun moments, though, all the way throughout the novel and if you love The Shining, you definitely should pick this one up.

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