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on January 28, 2012
Stephen King is a master storyteller. We all know this. So I should not have been surprised to have been swept away from the get go and taken to the Land of Ago, but I was. I was! I walked with Jake Epping through the 50s and 60s and into my own past.

11/22/63 as the title implies is a story centered on one, of the far too many, watershed moments of our lives: the assassination of John F Kennedy. Jake Epping, a middle aged high school teacher reads a story by one of his adult students, a gruesome, heart wrenching, true story, that brings him to tears, not a common response; no wait an extremely rare, response from Jake. Shortly thereafter Jake receives a call from a local diner owner, who has a portal to the past to show him and a story to tell. He also has cancer and is enlisting Jake to act on his behalf, go back in time and save John F. Kennedy. But this is King so there are rules and Jake now has his own little bit of history that he would like to see changed.

I was taken on a journey by the King's own hand, held captive from cover to cover. And beyond! I'm not going to go in to this story. If you want a fantastic experience read it for yourselves, because it is King's story that you need to hear. Let me just say that in his masterful hands you are transported in time to the late 50's, early 60's and that he is spot on! Everything is slower, simpler, a time of Glenn Miller and swing, with 59 Chevy's and fins that went on forever! Cleaner air, unpreserved, delicious home cooking, friendly, trusting people, no cell phones, pre -Vietnam America! Camelot! Of course there is the other side of this era, from which King does not shy away: racism, domestic violence, cold wars and every ounce of oxygen polluted with first and second hand smoke. The Land of Ago born again: festering wounds and scabs intact.

What if you could go back in time and change the course of history, prevent one of those watershed moments of your own from ever happening? Would you? And if you did, what new history would take its place? As King shows us the past is obdurate, it does not want to change.

For me, this is that watershed moment. I remember everything about the day that JFK was assassinated; where I was, what I was doing, wearing, eating and thinking throughout the course of this historic day, even though I was still but a mere child. Ever since then I have wondered, on and off, many times, over the years, what life would be like if JKF had survived.

11/22/63 has now become my new all time favourite Stephen King book! It has reawakened in me everything that I have always loved about King's stories. I need more, no doubt about that. So I have physically cleared a spot for 11/22/63 on my top shelf. No doubt it will dwell there for a long, long time.

In the end all you really need to know is: Read It! Read It! Read It!
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on November 20, 2011
All of King's books carry high expectations given his prolific record of entertainment. Personally, I could not wait for 11/22/63. The premise of time travel and the incredible event the author chooses to explore make for an engaging premise. Mix in the fact that King first envisioned this book in 1971 and one can not help but be intrigued. However, I found enjoyment less in the time travel, Presidential assassination, and conspiracy aspects than I did in his descriptions, tone and atmosphere of the period he captures and the characters he builds and so effortlessly makes to interact in authentic and believable ways.

Having read King's reviews and views in Entertainment Weekly, I know he and I share an admiration of author Richard Russo. The characters Russo brings to life could easily be people we know or bump into in our daily interactions. And I believe that King has comparable skills in this area but is often not recognized as we all debate his horror plots more than we credit his admirable writing skills. He is extremely self-deprecating in this regard having been quoted as saying, "I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries."

The metaphysical time travel aspects of the book may slightly disappoint. The JFK assassination will always fascinate even though King is clear on his view of a broader conspiracy. So those two aspects are worthy reasons alone to read this book, however, the value and entertainment are found in King's exploration of human motivations, frailties, and relationships. His true skills are often over shadowed given his subject matter of vampires, haunted hotels, alien encounters, malevolent evil, and other dimensions. I am hopeful that when his career is viewed in the aggregate, it will be debated and discussed for its true contribution in exploring the balance of good and evil and how that conflict roars in each and every individual.
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on July 13, 2016
Jake Epping, a high school English teacher living in Lisbon Falls, Maine, seems to enjoy his vocation along with the very cheap burgers at Al’s Diner made fresh daily by owner Al Templeton. Meeting up with Al one evening, Jake is stunned by the astonishing secret Al has kept for several years. As Jake listens closely he is extremely skeptical and shocked about Al’s request; he wants him to go on a journey. Not any ordinary journey, but an extraordinary and quite unique mission that he needs to take at once. 11/22/63 is guaranteed to capture readers and draw them into a time period that many will recall and reminisce with pleasure about the good old days. For the most part the story moves along at a gentle speed, no rushing, no fast action, just an easy going way of telling a profound heartfelt tale. However, when you least expect it the story line takes an abrupt turn with nail biting, breath-taking moments. Stephen King is a master at his craft and 11/22/63 is a dazzling, outstanding achievement. Highly recommended to all readers.
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on December 4, 2011
I am a fan of Stephen Kings. A Constant Reader if you will. However I do admit to enjoying some of his books more than others. This book, 11/22/63 is one of those books. I began reading with no expectations and was delighted. I found myself engaged by the characters and the lived world of the people in the story. I was curious about how the story would end but not so much that I wanted to skip to the end. This is one of his best books. Like the main character I learned about this time period in my history class in high school and now I am curious to know more. If you have a teenager who is not really a reader and has a history project this book might spark his/her imagination. It did mine. I definitely recommend this book - even to non-fans. The supernatural element is minimal, secondary even. I actually cried a little at the end (and not over the assassination or time travel). Won't give away the plot. ;-)
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on January 7, 2012
Don't let Stephen King's reputation for horror keep you from reading this. Nor the time travel. It is neither horror nor traditional sci-fi. It is a well constructed, thoughtful story of "what if". It has a fair amount of violence after the first 500 pages, but nothing like The Stand or Under the Dome. It is necessary violence, even when it seems superfluous. Keep reading and it will make sense. I was, once again, stunned by Stephen King's ability to write perfect sentence after perfect sentence, while bringing the characters and setting alive in a few words. The plot is highly creative. I enjoyed it heartily but started getting a little antsy a couple hundred pages into it when I realized that foiling JFK's assassination was not the main focus for the foreseeable chapters. It seemed a side story was taking over. However, once I got over that, I sat back and enjoyed this whopping good yarn about the adventures of an English teacher who travels back to 1958 from 2011, and the four years of his life leading up to the Kennedy assassination of 11/22/63, which he intends to stop. The small town of Jodie, Texas, early 60's, is where much of the novel takes place. A love story develops between the English teacher from the future and that town of the past. I found myself hoping the teacher never has to leave Jodie, because I liked it there. Of course, with élan, and at just the right time, King brings the crazy Lee Harvey Oswald to life in vivid colour. Kennedy's fate then looms largely. Although a book of fiction, King's portrayal of Oswald is based on fact, so it was interesting historically. Those parts of the book dedicated to Oswald and his associates were sometimes a bit bland, but, I promise you, the pace picks up. The last hundred pages or so are quite a ride. Apparently King tried writing this tome in 1972. I'm glad he waited until now. Personally, I needed the 50 years distance.
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on November 29, 2011
Stephen King can write a book and hold your interest from cover to cover like no other author in modern writing. I am not a great fan of blood and guts horror and do enjoy it when King veers from his better known horror books to write something different. Real horror lies in crossing into the unknown with unknown results. If that is true then you can still class this book as "horror". I was intrigued by the title and premise of 11/22/63. Can we go back in time and change events that have affected all of us? In this case the time traveler Jake Epping is allowed to go back in time to 1958. However, the book transcends the time travel aspects and takes us back to a snip of life as it existed in Texas 1958. This is the time before the civil rights movement and centered on the nuclear family. King has developed characters from the past that also transcend the era and allows us to relate and compare ourselves and our attitudes to everyday life. Are we that different? Have we really surpassed our prejudices? Are modern people better than the same nuclear people? What is mortality or immortality? King has chosen a beautiful crafted vehicle to allow us to look back and ponder. I grew up in the era the book portrays and have vivid memories of the assassination of JFK. I am not sure of King's age but he captured a lot of my past life.

The book is moving and at times can become emotional but it does all this and entertains as King is capable. The characters are all so interestingly believable whether they are past or present.
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on July 12, 2013
I am an avid reader and part of a book club. Stephen King's "11/22/63" was chosen as our book club's Summer Read this year. I know some people will get discouraged about the size of the novel (880 pages) but download it your Kindle or Kobo and you won't even notice it. I absolutely LOVED this novel. I am not a reader of Stephen King's typical "horror" genre but we all know that he is an amazing and imaginative story-teller and this book shines with his capabilities. The story is beautifully written and the facts are well researched. I found myself sneaking in a few pages whenever possible during my busy day. It does get a bit long in some parts but it didn't bother me as I was so into the story by then and could not put it down. The love story between the main character Jake and his lover from the "past" was incredibly heart-felt and touching and had me in tears many times during the last half of the book. AN ABSOLUTE MUST-READ!!! It is hands-down the best book I've read in at least 2 years.
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on May 15, 2015
The premise here is so perfect that it's a wonder no one has tried it before. It tackles the idea of going back in time to try to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy with an imaginative skill, planning, and lyricism that only Stephen King could bring to such a project. On the way to 11/22/63, the inauspicious date of that assassination, King savors life in the 1960s as only someone who can recall it can do. He doesn't idealize the era, showing the thorns among the roses, but we get a real whiff of the scents of freshly cut grass and freshly baked cookies that waft over suburban lawns as dads wash their cars in the driveways and moms do their stuff in unhurried ease in the kitchens. Although there is a lyrical section about the joys of teaching high school in 1963 that might have been shortened, King doesn't waste time. However the pace is a bit slow, which is necessary to get all the birds in a row: assassin, target, and would-be-preventer, along with motives and weapons and timing; our hero has to try again and again to get it right, each time with startling possibilities. And all that makes this an even more gripping read.
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on October 24, 2012
Stephen King is the first American novelist I've read in English as a young man ("Different seasons"). Since then, I've read almost all his stories, but apart "Duma Key" (great book) and "Dark Tower" serie (tome 1 and VII are great), very few of them had touched me. I was thinking that maybe I'm getting too old for this style of litterature.
I'm almost 50 years old, and I was in my mother's belly during October crisis in 1962, and the period was so tensed I came to birth 7 weeks earlier than predicted. The assassination of John Kennedy has always been such a matter of great interest in my life. So, knowing the history for so long, I still find that King did very well with this latest novel. It's pretty well written, very funny on many parts, and with his huge imagination, the author is able to make us believe the idea of: "What would have happened if Kennedy was not killed that day?"
I've read it in 5 days during my latest vacation by the sea. It's a worthy buy.
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on September 9, 2012
I am not a huge Stephen King fan although I love The Stand, and have read it many times. But the horror genre isn't one I enjoy. Amazon recommended this one for me, and because I recognized the date, I added it to my wish list.

When I cracked the book, I hadn't read reviews and I didn't have any idea of its premise. I read a fair amount of Sci-Fi, though, and I thought he managed the time-travel aspects really well.

I found it very well written, and as noted above, it kept me awake one night until 4:00 a.m. The whole alternative reality concept is so seductive, I blew through this book in a week; if I'd read it on holiday, it would have been a lot faster. Because the man sells so many millions of books, and you see them everywhere, it's easy to dismiss him and think he's a crappy mass market writer, when he's actually very skilled at bringing you along on a thrilling ride.

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