Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

With the exception of the opening scene, Doctor Sleep is not quite the scare fest I was expecting. As the author notes in his afterword, a different King wrote The Shining, and a different you is reading Doctor Sleep. Maybe that was why none of it seemed very terrifying. In fact, it read more like a thriller than anything else, a classic will the hero figure it out in time type of book. That said, it’s a damn good book written by a damn good author. A+ Recommended.

I tried reading Doctor Sleep years ago when it first came out, but a few chapters in, I encountered the word vampire and noped out. Not that I hate vampires, but it wasn’t what I wanted from a sequel to one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.

Vampires just aren’t scary. Sorry, Anne Rice.

It wasn’t until this year (2019) when the trailers for the Doctor Sleep movie came out that I decided to try again, a decision that would ultimately disappoint in all the right ways. The trailers show Ewan McGregor doing a terrible American accent in the halls of the Overlook Hotel. You see the elevator blood. You see the twins. Wow! Who wouldn’t want to go back to that?

Except… you read The Shining. You know what happens at the end and why it would be impossible to walk those halls again.

I’ve read since that the Doctor Sleep movie is a sequel to The Shining movie… it borrows some elements from the books, but not the contradictory ones.

That said, I enjoyed the book. King’s style is so inviting, so raw and tangible, that you can’t help but feel like you’re there with Danny and swiping the 70 bucks. You’re there when he sits outside a bar trying to rationalize going inside.

You’re there when he stands with that person in front of that mirror and reveals the thing you didn’t see coming. And if that doesn’t move you to tears, well, then your heart is darker than mine.

Yeah, that happened. I even gasped too.

That’s how invested King gets you in his stories. Doctor Sleep is no exception to that rule. It sucks you in, makes you think you’re safe because you aren’t scared, but really it’s everything else that’s gonna get to you–the alcoholism, the death, the pain, the emotion.

So good.

My only gripe is that I had just read The Institute (read the review here) and so the whole people snatching up kids thing felt too familiar. Doctor Sleep came first, I know, but for me, it felt like I was walking the same path again.

It will be interesting to see how the movie differs from the book, but for now, you can pick it up on Amazon and get the real story of Doctor Sleep.

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