The Shining

THE SHINING

Written by Stephen King

Published by Anchor, January 28, 1977

My star rating – 4 stars

THE SYNOPSIS:

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

spoiler free graphic

MY REVIEW:

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!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    So, I definitely thought the book was MUCH more terrifying than the movie. And I wasn’t too keen on how they portrayed Jack’s wife in the movie compared to the book. I think the reason why the book was more terrifying to me was because much of the scary shit was happening in people’s heads, and this is also the reason SK’s books mostly don’t translate well to film. SK is all about the psychological shit, more so than the physical scares. What happens in people’s heads tends to be much more horrifying that what could actually happen in the “real world.” With that said, I know a lot of people who preferred the film over the book, and I can see why, in ways. SK is not one of those people. Heh. He also hated the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg I couldn’t agree with you more about his wife!!! In the movie she was a weak little doormat. She still wasn’t quite as strong as I wished she was to handle her idiot husband but, she was far more defensive of her son in the book.
      I haven’t read a lot of King’s books but I always go into them hoping for tons of ghosts and monsters and it’s, like you said, more psychological. Maybe I should go into his books with that mind frame instead and I might see them differently

      Liked by 1 person

  2. S.E. White says:

    This is definitely one of his more cerebral/internal descent books, I see the merit in everything you say in your review. Kind of like Pet Sematary, it’s really what’s happening in the character’s minds that’s the scariest. If you’re looking for more of the psychological mixed with action and gore ‘Salem’s Lot has tons. IT has a high body count as well, but it’s a huge time commitment to read . . . The Stand starts out with pretty gory action, but it descends into more boring psychological parts which you might not enjoy as much.

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  3. Dang, but you do tackle some douzies! Stephen King, no, couldn’t do the movie, wouldn’t be able to do the book.

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  4. I loved The Shining! Hands down the scariest book I’ve ever read. I made the mistake of reading it late at night and then had to call one of my friends because I couldn’t sleep (this was back in college lol). As for the ending, well, King doesn’t always nail an ending imo. I think I liked the book better than the movie for this one though. That topiary garden still gives me nightmares lol.

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  5. Zezee says:

    Totally get you on this, but I think because I read the book first, I ended up liking it more. I watched the show but didn’t like it, however, I agree that the end in it is better.
    In the book, I liked that we couldn’t tell if it’s all in the characters’ head or if the hotel is indeed haunted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wish I had read the book first. It would have made my opinion totally different!

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