Monday, 26 October 2015
#CBR7 Book 112: "Joyland" by Stephen King
Rating: 4 stars
21-year-old college student Devin Jones gets a summer job at old-fashioned carnival and amusement park Joyland, trying to mend his broken heart, after his girlfriend left him for another. Working at Joyland, he's taught the ways of the experienced carnies, discovers his knack for entertaining children while "wearing the fur" of park mascot Howie the Hound, lays the foundation of some life-long friendships and discovers the legend of the genuinely haunted House of Horror, where a young woman in a blue dress and an alice band had her throat slit by a man she thought loved her. He also meets Mike, a seriously ill little boy with unusual abilites and Annie, Mike's sad and serious mother.
I honestly didn't know what to expect from Joyland and went into the book knowing little to nothing about the plot (which is exactly what Narfna, my book twin on the internet recommended). In my early teens I would almost compulsively take out Stephen King books from the library, reading them even though I didn't particularly like the way the horror novels affected me (I've only read Misery the one time, but it's still burned in my memory - and yes, I would have been all over the Misery books, they sound wonderfully cracktastic). At university, I read the first four books of King's Dark Tower saga, and was lucky enough to read the final books in the series only a few years later, unlike some, who waited decades for it to finish. While I was mostly disappointed with the final three, there is no denying that King is a great story teller.
This book is mostly a mystery with a hint of suspense. It's not a horror novel, but there are some supernatural elements. Mostly, it's a little slice of the early 1970s, a coming of age novel, depicting a summer in an inexperienced and heart-broken young man. It's also a quick read, which I would have blazed through if my brain hadn't been severely rattled by my untimely concussion, leaving me unable to read anything on paper or screen for about two weeks without getting a splitting headache and eventually blurred vision. The pulpy cover is lovely, and fits the story remarkably well.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.