I’m starting this post to say that I am not a fan of horror. I get easily freaked out and I rarely ever read horror books – I like thrillers and occasional suspenseful books, but never really horror books with ghosts and stuff.
But since it’s so close to Halloween, I though why not post a review of a book everyone knows is a perfect book for the month?
I don’t even remember why I picked The Shining by Stephen King in the first place. I guess I just wanted to challenge myself, and see if I was actually brave enough to read it.
Title: The Shining
Author: Stephen King
Date Published: June 24th 2008 (first published 1977)
Num of pages: 450
Date read: February 28th 2015
The Shining is a very famous novel and movie, and it’s about a father, Jack, who gets a job to take care of a secluded hotel in the middle of nowhere for a few months during the winter with his wife, Wendy and young son, Danny. And the story takes off from there. Also, if you have never read this book you might not want to read this review, because it has some spoilers. It will also help if you’ve read the movie as well, since I might be comparing the book with the movie.
This was my first Stephen King book, and I was very impressed. The story itself is great – although the idea of being in an isolated hotel filled with supernatural creatures lurking and a child with supernatural abilities might seem a little cliche or boring at first, it didn’t become boring because of the characters. This is what really draws me into the story, how the three main characters of the book are so real and likeable that you just can’t wait to see what happens to them next.
I really like Danny even though I’m not a huge fan of children. But just thinking of Danny’s braveness and his obedience and great manners I am really in love with him. Also Wendy is a great character. She’s definitely a strong woman, a fighter, but she also portrays the good womanly and motherly person in the book, balancing out the manliness and harshness of Jack. Meanwhile, for Jack in the beginning I had some mixed feelings. But after the middle part I began to also really like him. I like how he tries to be a good father and husband but deep inside he knows he’s got this beast inside of him. But I just think that he’s a really genuinely good person with good intentions. I was very upset when he died, especially since we don’t really know the exact moment or line where Jack isn’t Jack anymore and is only the hotel in his body.
Thinking about how Jack didn’t get to have closure with his wife and son, how he didn’t have goodbyes or couldn’t finish his play or couldn’t really find inner peace is really sad and it’s probably the only thing I didn’t like about the book – Jack’s death. It might seem hard to think about a reasonable way to twist the plot so that Jack can become the old Jack again and not die and still be able to kill the monsters and such and burn down the hotel and killing him alongside the hotel might seem like the reasonable plotline but I still sort of hope that he didn’t die.
The horror-ish stuff itself, with the ghosts and people, the hedges and sounds and all that are also great. I realized how in reading a horror novel you really depend on your imagination while conjuring up the images of the scary things in the book. I guess my imagination isn’t that wild or strong because I don’t have the image of the woman or the hedges or any of that at night when I sleep in the dark unlike when I just watch a horror movie and at night I would still be able to see Ju-On’s face lurking from the ceiling. So I think that horror books aren’t really as scary as the movies because of those images.
But I do have to say the way King writes the scenes of the scary parts is excellent. He really gets you in the zone and makes your heart beat faster, eyes read faster along the words and it’s just a wonderful and unique experience. But compared to the scenes with Jack fighting Wendy or the last scenes with Jack being half monster on a killing rage and action but human-y stuff, I prefer the action and gore than the paranormal stuff, although those scenes were also chilling and exciting.
And comparing it to the movie, which is highly acclaimed and received a lot of fame especially with Stanley Kubrick directing it, I very much prefer the book. I know how a lot of fans didn’t like the movie adaptation because it was so different from the book, and I quite agree. In the movie, it was mostly focused on the horror, the supernatural beings and events leading to them.
Of course Jack Nicholson was incredible in the movie, and the whole cinematography and dialogues were amazing. Although I disliked the woman who played Wendy, I still really enjoyed the movie and it really did creep me out. But the movie was different from the book, because the movie was more of a horror movie with less character introduction and the plot wasn’t focused much on Jack or his relationship with Danny and many more, while in the book you can really relate with the characters.
So all in all, I didn’t expect to really like The Shining, but I really do. I think it was a good way to start reading Stephen King, and after reading this book I was intrigued to read more of his work. It left a deep impression to me, it was scary but it was so much more than that – it has excellent characters, amazing narration and the whole vibe of the setting is remarkable. Overall an excellent and very memorable book for me, and almost a perfect book.