Short Review...Stephen King's Joyland

Thursday, July 4, 2013 10:13 AM

When I read last year that one of the novels that Stephen King was working on (you know, one of about 33)..involved a serial killer and was set at an amusement park, I was excited to read it. I was a big King fan, although not so much in recent years, and I no longer come close to reading everything the man publishes.

Many of the usual trappings one can expect from a King novel are here...a small smattering of gore, some supernatural elements, etc. This is a short book, part of the Hard Case Crime series, and runs only 283 pages.

It's a terrific read. Most of the story takes place at the title amusement park located in North Carolina on the beach. The time is the early 1970's. It's an old fashioned park, a coupla steps up from a traveling carnival. King does an absolutely wonderful job of capturing the carny flavor of the park's workers, absorbed quickly by our 21 year-old protagonist/hero, Devin Jones. I felt like I was an employee of the park, so vivid is King's style in describing the employees, the buildings, the rides, the atmosphere.

The basic plot..and I'll avoid spoilers, since I know at least one CBer is currently reading it...involves Devin's fixation on, and attempt to solve, a murder that took place years before in the park's dark haunted ride. The characters are fairly well written. King usually has trouble ending his epic novels, but I was satisfied with what he did here.

It borrows elements from some of King's other works, but they serve the purpose here. It took me only a few nights to read it. It's a quick read with very little dead (no pun intended) time. I highly recommend it to King fans and amusement park junkies alike (and of course, those of us who happen to be both.)

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Thursday, July 4, 2013 10:15 AM
Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:22 AM

Must be a popular book, my local library has all 30 copies checked out, and 70 more people have holds once those come back. Maybe I'll check it out in a few months.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:06 AM

I was enjoying the entire feel of this book, but the end seemed contrived, like King pulled it out of his ass. Usually I feel like he goes on too long for too little payoff, but in this case, I felt he could have built up the suspense more. The ending seemed typical of a less accomplished writer and somewhat anticlimactic. However, I really liked the main character a LOT, and I was pleased with the way King captured the old carnival/amusement park feel.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 7:53 AM

Yeah, one of King's strengths is that he weaves a compelling, rich narrative, but a consistent weakness of his is the tacked-on ending. I felt Under the Dome followed the same pattern: I liked the development of the story a good deal as it unfolded, but the ending seemed like he was actually running up against a strict page limit or something.

On a completely unrelated sidenote, I was interested to hear that King has stated he eschews adverbs, relying instead on more descriptive verbs. For example, instead of "walked slowly," he will opt for "trudged." I've tried this, and it does clean up one's writing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 3:59 PM

Darn, not available on Kindle.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 10:18 AM

Break Trims, it makes sense if you think about it to use more verbs with...I call it "crunch" to them.

I found Under the Dome's snail pace with its five page ending to be nearly intolerable, but I have been told I am in the minority. I actually enjoyed Duma Key and Cell, but his longer books just leave me cold for the most part.

Still, I am looking forward to Dr. Sleep. The Shining was also not one of my favorites from S.K., but some images in it stick in the mind. I anticipate getting some interesting flashbacks from his newest.

Sunday, August 4, 2013 2:34 AM

Mike Gallagher said:

When I read last year that one of the novels that Stephen King was working on (you know, one of about 33)..involved a serial killer and was set at an amusement park, I was excited to read it.

If you're excited about that, you should watch some '70s Scooby Doo. Some of them are set in theme parks, and some of them even include Cher or Phyllis Diller as guest voices!

Last edited by bjames, Sunday, August 4, 2013 2:34 AM
Sunday, August 4, 2013 6:08 AM

^^You're preaching to the choir, man.


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