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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ern Reads Every Stephen King Book post 3: The Shining

I've read this one before, back when I was younger, and I've seen the popular 1980 movie based on the book as well. I don't remember much about the movie. That was a long time ago. I remember liking it. There are a few classic moments that are not present in the book, like Jack's writings just saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over. Also, "Here's Johnny!" only happens in that movie. There are a ton of differences and both the book and movie are good, so it's worthwhile to partake in both. My only complaint about the movie is that the wife, Wendy, is so ugly in the movie that it's distracting. I know that's mean to say, and I'm sorry, but the book paints Wendy as much more attractive.

Stephen King lived portions of this book/got certain scenes from real life. He actually moved to Boulder, Colorado for a year in order to give his third published book a different setting. We guess it would be a problem to write a book set in a place with which you are unfamiliar. King and his family stayed in a hotel one night where they were the only guests, and they stayed in a room that was said to be haunted, Room 217. He was served at a the hotel bar by a man named Grady and dreamed of his three-year-old son running from a firehose. The hotel, The Stanley, had once housed famous people.

This is one of only a few books that have ever really scared me. The "bathtub scene" is what did it the first time around. The second time around, I was more unhinged by the crumbling marriage, the suspicion, and the adult stresses of the job, blame, and parenting. Maybe it's just that I'm older now. The Shining isn't just a ghost story. The novel explores a damaged marriage, hurt and trust in a marriage, alcoholism, and one man dealing with quite the temper. The evil hotel, filled with ghosts, uses all of these already negative things, blowing them up to massive proportions to take a family down.
I don't think this is Stephen King's scariest book anymore, although I used to. The Stand and Pet Sematary probably compete for that title now.

My biggest complaint about this book is that sometimes it got repetitive. King would tell a story from, say, Jack's past, having him remember it. Then he would tell the same story from his wife, Wendy's, point of view, but we wouldn't really get much new information. The history of the hotel was repeated several times, as were several minor, past incidents. We love the way King lets us know the entire life story of most of his characters, but we only need the life story once. Overall, this is a classic for a reason. It has characters you care about, although very few of them. I want to go watch the movie now.

Book Grade (compared to other Stephen King books): B

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