“Doctor Sleep” Stephen King (35/52 books challenge)

               Doctor SleepDo you remember The Shining? Either the book or the movie, or both? Even if you’ve never watched/read, you’ve probably heard about it. We’ve all heard about it. Most of us, anyway.

                To be honest, I loved Jack Nicholson’s role, but other than that, it was just a movie. Never understood the hype it got. The wife and the kid from the movie annoyed me to no end. But Jack Nicholson was great. And so was the book that inspired this film.

                Here’s a continuation. The little boy from The Shining is a grown-up man now. His mom died some time ago, because of some unnamed illness caused – or helped by – smoking, and now Danny Torrance is moving from one place to another and drinking too much. Until he settles in a New Hampshire town, where he joins AA and starts working in a nursing home. There he becomes known as “Doctor Sleep,” because he eases minds of dying patients on their death bed.

                Elsewhere in the town lives a 12-year-old Abra with the same powers as Danny’s, only much, much stronger. And elsewhere in the United States lives a group of travelers who call themselves “The True Knot.” They look for children with the shining, capture them and torture them to death, feeding on the “steam” that is released in the process. The True Knot used to be human, but now they’re some sort of empty devils whose most aim is to be immortal.

And now they have their minds set on Abra, who teams up with Danny to try and stop them.

                Well, what can I say. Basically, it’s not The Shining, but it’s not bad, either.

                Let me get a little emotional – or rather biased and unprofessional – thing first. I know that making Danny an alcoholic was ironic and realistic, but I was disappointed. I know, I know, I’ve read enough on the subject to know about children going in parents’ footsteps inadvertently, I know that it’s in the genes of alcoholic’s children to become that way, too, but I guess I just wanted an exception. I just wanted someone who had promised himself “he would never be like that” to really never be like that. It felt for me that King went “the easy road” with it, but I am aware that it’s probably just me.

And my idealistic nature J

                Oh, well.

Regardless. Let’s get to the point.

The book is sort of two stories. One is about Danny fighting with his old nightmares and trying to have a semi-normal life at last, and the other is about Abra, her unusual abilities, and then fight with the True Knot. Or throughout the first – rather long – part of the book it seemed that there were three stories – the third one being about the doings of the True Knot. They all intersect in later parts, however.

Let me start with some things I didn’t particularly like.

Firstly, Abra’s huge power. Not sure exactly why, but it seemed unrealistic (if we could say this in a horror story, where practically everything is unrealistic) and anti-climactic that a 12-year-old with not too much experience would be so good at fighting a scary, powerful woman who’s been around for a few lifetimes.

The second thing is that the whole idea of the True Knot and what they feed on seemed a little… funny, for some reason. Or maybe it’s just that I preferred King’s other ideas. A cemetery from where everyone comes back in a demonic form. A fan obsessed with the writer and his character. A family trapped in a hotel haunted by evil ghosts. The True Knot seemed a little off for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t enjoyable at all. It had a lot of King’s usual gore and truly creepy dread. Only sometimes, something felt off or not enough. Or a little silly? I can’t quite put the finger on it.

That being said, the rest is pretty amazing. We have King and what I always admired about most his books – the ability to create various, relatable, real characters. Characters that felt like living people, not like puppets. Then, there’s the three intersecting stories, which for me is usually a big plus. Add to it some gore, a teenager with a little of mean streak, psychological depth that King gives to all his stories, an interesting plot, and we have a really good book.

It’s just it’s not The Shining. Or other of King’s best works. But enjoyable and worth reading, anyhow.


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