If there was ever a waste of 849 pages, it’s Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63.
That’s harsh, I know.
But I’ve just finished reading it, and I don’t feel very forgiving. It’s not a very forgiving book.
11/22/63 is well-written. It’s a good read. The characters are three-dimensional. And it’s probably one of the more accurate portrayals of what would happen if time travel were possible.
But I wish it had ended a bit more romantically.
Dumbing down the plot to a sentence: A teacher from 2011 travels back in time to stop JFK from getting assassinated.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. The book is 849 pages long, after all.
*I give away the whole book; read at your own peril*
In 11/22/63, every trip “down the rabbit hole” is a complete reset. Any time you go to the past, you always get there the same time: September 9, 1958, at 11:58 AM. And whatever changes you made last time, get wiped clean.
And no matter how much time you spent in the past (you could spend years there), if you returned to the present, only two minutes would have passed.
Jake, the teacher-turned-time-travler, spends six years in the past, waiting for an opportunity to save Kennedy. He gets a job, buys a car, rents a place to live. He falls in love. And he saves the lives of a number of people, JFK included.
But you can’t stop the Butterfly Effect. When Jake returns to the 21st Century, he finds that he’s basically brought about the end of the world, and maybe even reality itself.
So what does he do? He steps back in time to reset the future, before returning to the present.
All those years in the past, all that spying, the heart-ache, the hardships he went through, were all for naught.
President Kennedy was killed. Jake’s other life-saving heroics are null. His chance at true love is gone.
Jake does meet up with the woman he fell in love with. In the year 2011, she’s 80 years old. Jake is familiar to her, like a dream, and the book ends with the two sharing a dance.
Interestingly, King had a slightly different ending in mind, but his son convinced him that Jake needed to see his love again in the future.
After reading 11/22/63 I felt fatigued, depressed, and cheated.
What was the point?