I had expected some sort of horror novel based on the author, but this was really sci-fi — about time travel. There were some horror elements (violence and psychological), but nothing that I wouldn’t expect in this genre.
I did enjoy the story, despite taking so long to read it. The first several hundred pages took me a long time to get through because I just wasn’t getting into the story. It seemed to drag on and had just so much information. Looking back, I see that it was because King was focused more on the idea than on the results. I wanted to get to the event (for this story, it is obvious from the cover and the title that the event is the assassination of JFK) and the results of that, rather than the concept of time travel and one man’s psychological dealings with it.
Setting: The story starts in New England in the current day. Not much information is really given about the area, apart from the restaurant and Al’s house. Gradually we move back in time to the 1960s or so, and the setting moves to Dallas, Texas and surrounding areas.
Character: We mainly get to know the protagonist, Jake Epping, and some people from a small town in Texas. We also get to know a little about Lee Harvey Oswald from the perspective of Jake. King does a good job with giving us lots of characterization for all the main characters, as well as for some of the minor ones (which makes it difficult to know who to remember and who you can forgot and so the names start to blur together).
Plot: The plot is simple – Jake needs to find out if Oswald acted alone (hello conspiracy theorists) and stop the assassination of JFK in order to make the world better. The idea being that things went bad from that point because his successor didn’t handle things well as president, and so forth. The catch is that he has to live in the 1960s for a few years and he can’t return once he goes back to his own time because when he does, everything resets to exactly how it was and he’d have to do it all again.
There are other subplots involving love and charity and gambling (he’s from the future after all – hello Back to the Future, part 2). I won’t go into detail on those in order to avoid spoilers, though.
Conflict: The first few times Jake goes through the time bubble, he tries to change a couple little events to see if he can do it and how to get things to come out the way he wants. The butterfly effect is front and center throughout the entire book. The conflicts come between him and “time” (or the past), which resists change). These show up as conflicts with nature or with inanimate objects as well as with people. And, of course, the conflict of finding out about Oswald and preventing JFKs assassination.
Text: The writing was extensive. I’m not sure King knows how to write a short novel 😉
Once I got to the part I was interested in, I was able to really fly through the pages, so that tells me that the dialog felt real and the connections from scene to scene were appropriate and useful. There was a lot of explanation in the beginning of the novel, which also helped me to breeze through the end of the book without needing more explanation. So, that worked out well for him.
All in all, I definitely recommend this book. If you are having trouble getting trouble getting through the beginning, as I did, just know that it will get easier and better.