february 2020 ✩ 25 pages/day
The shining, stephen king (659 pages)
I initially struggled over whether to give this book a four or five star rating (and in no way would I ever purposefully mess up my lovely star system with a .5 mark), so I decided to go with my heart. Luckily, my heart particularly loves horror and this book, and here I am with the second 5 star rating in my blog history. I definitely hyped up my last 5 star rating book (Flowers in the attic, my pride and joy). The Shining already has the hype, a factor I soon realized, which made my read a lot more interesting.
Through a quick browse within my reading ladder for last year, I noticed a few things in particular:
- The stories I read were usually around 300+ pages, a number I could tackle and handle with ease. Now, if you look at The Shining, a book with 600+ pages, I could already tell that I was jumping into a whole new level of reading. (Just one step closer to the final, boss level!)
- Most of my books were well-known and recognized, but not The Shining well-known and recognized, if that makes sense. Practically everyone that knows a bit of movie history recognizes The Shining for its cinematic masterpiece (in its own way, of course, since the movie is subpar compared to the book).
Was I in a slight hurry to finish this book by the end of the month? Yes, just a little bit. Me, in all my foolishness, never even realized how “large” this book actually was until I counted the number of pages. (“659 pages!? What the-“). This book is basically the amount of two books I would usually read in a month. I was worrying for a bit over the fact that I would probably be on a second book by now, at the end of the month, yet the fact that book was double my capacity reassured my reading capabilities a little bit.
Alright, onto what I liked about the book. (Spoiler alert: I liked a whole lot). As someone who has seen clips of The Shining enough times to understand the whole plot despite never viewing the movie itself, I could already tell what was going to happen. Usually, such a factor like that would deter my reading experience; yet, to no avail, Stephen King strikes again with his wonderful storytelling. I could list some reasons why I don’t like his writing style, yet the good seems to outweigh the bad in this case. It was like I was experiencing The Shining for the first time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. His imagery and visual storytelling is amazing. I could picture the Overlook Hotel almost perfectly (yet I do have to thank the movie for fuelling my imagination).
Stephen King is great at character development. Seriously. He’s really good. Super good. In fact, here’s my favorite things about each character.
- Jack, in his mental battle with himself and the Overlook Hotel, is portrayed painfully perfect. It’s why I find the book a lot better than the movie. The movie portrays an already mentally unstable Jack, cruel and vicious to the bone. The Jack in the book may be unstable as well, yet holds a certain edge of compassion, caring, kindness, and love beneath all the turmoil. He’s truly a character that is a sympathetic villain. I sympathized with him a whole ton, despite him being a mallet-swinging murderer. His narratives were the most enjoyable to read: the slow climb to insanity that he faces with every passing day.
- Wendy may be viewed as a weak woman, an irrational, unavailable wife that will always remain devoted to protecting her child, yet the story develops her as so much more. Sure, Wendy has her faults, her behaviour constantly being compared to that of her unloving mother’s, yet her rawness lies within her willingness, growth, and acceptance of these traits. She understands that she’s not perfect, and she’s rational enough to try her best to overcome these issues, all for the sake of her and her son. Wendy is really admirable; the strongest character in the whole book, in my opinion. The fact that she can pull herself together and save her child when her husband has gone off the edge of sanity is something I could never do.
- Danny is a character I sympathized with from the beginning; yet, in reality, children are always sympathized with. He presented the dilemma of the shine, something that not many people could understand (his mother, Wendy, tried her best to understand, which is also something I liked about her). He was strong and rational from the very beginning, handling almost every situation with a sense of maturity that even his parents couldn’t maintain. In the end, he manages to see Jack as his father and not the trapped monster that the hotel has transformed him into, a factor I didn’t even rationalize in my own mind. (The fact that he could find his father deep inside, despite him going past the point of no return, left me in awe).
- (Special mention to Dick, the character I desperately wanted to not die like he did in the movie. Thank god he lived).
It’s rare for me to like every character in the book. In fact, I couldn’t even find any character plot-points to nitpick, since Stephen King wrapped up basically all character development perfectly. My favorite character is Wendy.. just wanted to share.
I could go on a long, semi anger-fuelled tangent on why the book is much better than the movies for hours on end. I’ve decided to treat myself with a little bit of venting, so a lot more spoilers ahead:
I understand why the director (not going to search up his name, could care less) would change the plot for the sake of easier moviemaking. For example, the removal of the hedge animals is something I understand wholeheartedly. I would find moving, pouncing hedge animals to be less than satisfactory on the big screen. It would look weird. It looked weird in my head. Yet, the director changed so much of the plot that it barely followed the same script. Jack Torrance in the book is not the Jack Torrance in the movie. A man trapped by the evil wrongdoings of the Overlook Hotel, making him do the dirty work to fuel the fire of the hotel’s overgrowing power, is a lot more captivating and interesting than a simple man going insane due to isolation. Don’t get me wrong, Jack Nicholson (had to search up his name, I respect the guy) is an amazing actor that played the part of an insane man perfectly, yet the movie could’ve ended a lot more differently. (Also, Wendy in the movie isn’t my favorite. She’s portrayed a lot more meek, sad, and unwilling, which I disliked greatly. What happened to the strong-willed Wendy I read about?). (Also, I like the hedge maze and Jack freezing to death in the movie. The thrill of the chase is exhilarating). (Also, why did Dick have to die? He literally has the shine, he could’ve predicted his death beforehand. What did he have, a little memory mishap at the wrong time? Don’t be ridiculous).
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s an amazing, yet lengthy read. I would probably read it again, if I had the patience to do it.
I honestly believed that I had read a lot less pages per day, yet I’m not that disappointed. I was distracted by a lot of “life issues” this month (hint: homework and tests, the absolute worst) that I just prioritized my reading at the bottom of the list. I plan on reading a less hefty book next month, which is a relief more than anything. (I finally decided to read the one book I’ve been putting off for months, Coraline, and I’m super excited! The smaller amount of pages and cool drawings throughout the book are a bonus). Upon realization of books I had a great interest in reading, I decided that I should take this opportunity to branch out my reading genres a little bit. I want to read two books first (Coraline, as I mentioned earlier, and Lolita, which is a book that I’m more hesitant and unsure of reading) before starting a more poetic kind-of-read for my writer’s seminar. Hopefully I can read more than one book next month.
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