A Wimp’s Failed Review: Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (Scribner)

Book Review - Doctor Sleep

I’ve been taking my book-reviewing post very seriously, searching for new releases on a law student’s budget that I otherwise would have read only once the waitlist at the New York Public Library died down. So when I saw a copy of Steven King’s Doctor Sleep in the window of the Morningside Heights branch of the library, released just two months earlier, I promptly checked it out, eager to write a timely review.

Some background: I don’t read horror. In second grade, I tried to read “Bunnicula” before bed, and ended up sleeping in my parent’s room because I was terrified of vampire bunnies attacking. Nevermind that no one I knew had a pet rabbit. I don’t watch scary movies. I saw the movie adaptation of “The Shining” once in middle school and was too terrified by the experience to ever watch it again. Needless to say, I have not read the book, but I knew the story and what aspects of the film adaptation King doesn’t like, so I thought I’d know enough to handle reading this newly-released, highly-anticipated sequel.

After I took it home, “Doctor Sleep” waited on my desk in my apartment, until I eventually had to put it on the floor, thoroughly creeped out by the person on the cover.  (Is it a man? A woman? I still haven’t looked long enough to figure it out.) One night later that week, I made myself some tea, turned on all my lights, made sure my door was locked, and sat down to start reading.

I read the inside cover, and started questioning this decision. The plot summary explains that the novel picks up with Jack Torrence, who is using his shining ability to comfort dying residents at a nursing home. He is pulled out of his settled life by a young, similarly-gifted girl who is being hunted by a tribe of people. This description promised torture and a “gory, glorious story.” Why was I reading this again?

Yet, I pressed on. But as the opening paragraphs recalled the closing of “The Shining,” I knew I could not read this book. It wasn’t just that it was nighttime, it’s that Stephen King writes deeply scary books. If this book got in my head, it was not going to get out. And that was not something I was willing to risk. The book was promptly tucked into my bag and returned to the library the next morning to be sent off to one of the 300+ people on NYPL’s wait list.

Verdict: Affirmed if you’re just looking for a book that promises a good scare – I couldn’t make it further than the first five pages. If you’re interested in the substance of the book, Margaret Atwood was brave enough to read it. Why don’t you see what she has to say?

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