The Shining

In Book Reviews on June 15, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Continuing on with my Stephen King fan-girling, I’ve finally read The Shining. A lot of people have told me that this is their favourite of his books. I’m really sad to say that I didn’t like this one very much. Or maybe I didn’t like it as much as his other stuff. I really wanted to like it a lot more than I did because it’s by Stephen King, but I just wasn’t feeling the love.

Nutshell blurb: 5 year old Danny and his family move into a creepy-ass hotel in Colorado where his father will be acting as caretaker for the winter.

Where this book fell down for me was that there was sooooo much back story and exposition. On the one hand, that’s ok because in true Stephen King style the characters were fantastic. Jack Torrence wanted to be a good person but he was so flawed that he couldn’t be. He lacked the ability to control his anger and he was a recovering alcoholic. He was wracked with guilt for breaking his son’s arm a couple of years earlier yet sometimes he found himself fantasizing about hurting his wife and child. The tenuous grasp he had on his self-control made him a really interesting character. We spent a lot of time in his past, though, which didn’t appeal to me as much. I understood the need to explain the kind of person he was, but there was just way too much of it for my liking.

Danny was interesting as well. He had the ability to know what people were thinking and could sometimes see snippets of what was going to happen in the future. That must be terrifying for a 5 year old. I really got a sense of how alone he felt.

I felt that this book moved very slowly. It would build up to the point where I would start thinking that something was going to happen, but then nothing would. I find that very frustrating in a horror book.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the film yet. I know that it is nothing like the book, but I feel that I have to watch it now.

The fact that I wasn’t crazy about this book doesn’t diminish my admiration for Mr. King in any way. He’s still one of my favourite authors, although I’m really glad that this wasn’t the first book of his that I’ve read. Otherwise I might not be able to say that.

  1. Count me as one of those fans who thinks The Shining is among King’s best works. The slow burn of Jack Torrance descending into madness is superbly done.
    Will you read the sequel?

    • I probably will. I love Stephen King. I’m just not a ‘slow burn’ kind of girl. It’s been almost 40 years since The Shining was written so I’m willing to give it a chance. Have you read it? If so, did you enjoy it?

  2. I really need to read this, because I somehow never have, and I want to pick up the sequel some time soon. But yeah, early entries in an author’s catalog can be touch-and-go… And honestly I think I like his short stories the most (though Duma Key is still my favorite of all his stuff).

    • I feel really bad that I didn’t like it that much. It seems to the favourite of so many people. I would be interested to know what you think about it once you’ve read it. I still need to read Duma Key. I’ll get there eventually. I’ve been trying to make sure that I have at least one Stephen King book in my reading stack at all times.

      • Hey, everyone has different tastes; you shouldn’t feel bad about your personal preference! What’s your favorite King book so far?

      • That’s very true but it just made me wonder if I missed something that everyone else got from the story.

        I love Needful Things. I haven’t read it in a long time but I remember loving how the baddy pitted people against each other. I thought it was pretty powerful.

      • Oo yeah, that’s a good one.
        I’ve found that my enjoyment of most books hinges on whether or not I attach to a character. If I do, every book with that character becomes the Best Thing Ever; if I don’t, even good books are kind of meh. That’s my hook, but other people have other hooks, and I think that’s why there’s such variance in reviews of overall-good stuff. So maybe The Shining just didn’t have your hook.

      • I’m very much the same way. I didn’t feel close to any of the characters. I also dislike large amounts of back story. So there are two things against it for me.

  3. I actually haven’t read any of Stephen King’s books. This was at the top of my list of his works. What would you suggest starting with instead?

    • My favourite book of his is Needful Things. I also love It and The Stand. Misery is really good as well. That might be a good place to start actually. (I’m thinking as I’m writing this reply. Haha!) It’s so hard to choose! Go read Misery and let me know what you think.

  4. The Shining is one of the extremely rare cases where I actually liked the film better than the book.

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