Written by Stephen King
Published by Anchor, January 28, 1977
My star rating – 4 stars
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old. Find it on Goodreads
A while back I asked on Twitter what Stephen King book I should pick up. He’s written so many and I’ve only read maybe 4 of them – it’s time that I knock out some more of his catalogue! It was almost unanimous that I pick up The Shining. So many of you said that it was your favourite King novel and it was so much better (and different) from the movie. Being a big fan of the movie, these statements made me sooooo excited!! And honestly, I was a bit let down. Let me try to explain myself… warning, my thoughts are a bit controversial.
When I mentioned reading The Shining, the thing people mentioned most was that it was really different from the movie. I thought “Great! More paranormal, more gore, more scary shit!” That’s not really what happened. For the most part I found it really close to the movie actually. In some ways it was more paranormal and in others it was more boring. It was a little weird. Let’s be honest – if you’ve seen the movie before reading the book, it’s really hard not to compare. I tried to separate the two as often as possible but, because I found the book to be so close to the movie, it kept relating and overlapping. I guess I just expected more – more gore, action…. just more.
Pacing made all of this even more noticeable. There were some parts that were were drawn out way too long. As you can imagine, when you have a family that’s snowed in at a hotel for months on end, the days and tasks can blur, so it’s only natural that it’s going to be a little monotonous and repetitive. It was – and I was really hoping that the paranormal elements (that I hoped would be there but wasn’t) would break that up a bit. Instead, the scenes I didn’t care all that much about dragged on too long and then the action scenes were cut short. Once again, I wanted more.
Not to say that there weren’t paranormal elements (how many freaking times can I say paranormal elements in this review?), because there were! There was still the crazy dead lady in 217, mysterious party guests, possessed fire extinguishers, and a few others. But it was a little more heavily focused on the slow and steady descent into madness brought on by isolation. There were also less ghosts and spirits than I was hoping for. Instead the focus was directed more towards the hotel being a living, haunted, and forceful being. There were also times where you wondered if it was really the hotel that was doing this or if Jack was just losing his mind. Being away from civilization, living in closed quarters with his family as the only company, and fighting the demons of his alcoholism seemed to take over his every thought. I wondered if he was just going mad or if the hotel was really to blame. The lines between the two blurred and combined – and it was really interesting to follow!
One thing that was done perfectly (almost scary perfect) was the depiction of an alcoholic. I’m not one but I know an alcoholic quite well and all of the tells and triggers were here. Blaming others for the reason they drink – saying they drove him to do it and it was their fault. Never being able to accept blame or responsibility for their actions, constantly making excuses, outbursts of anger, and so much more.
And just to round out my controversial thoughts…….. I MUCH preferred the ending of the movie……. The ending of the book had me rolling my eyes. What I’m about to say will spoil the movie but NOT the book so, proceed with caution. In the movie, the boy is basically responsible for the death of his father. He runs away into the hedge maze and, to confuse his father and get away, he backtracks in his own foot steps, making it look to his father like he had disappeared. It was a poetic ending – where the boy get the last word after being through hell. The ending of the book though – it was too easy.
It was still a good book though! I love the movie and the book was fairly close to it. I think that if I had read the book before seeing the movie it would have been really outstanding. This just wasn’t the book I was hoping for.
Until next time, happy reading!