Book Review: Joyland by Stephen King

Tuesday 19 November 2013

A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline LuardJoyland
Stephen King
Genre(s): mystery, crime, horror
Published: June 4th 2013
Pages: 283
Rating: 4 stars

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

Joyland is probably one of the best books I've read this year. But, as it's coming from Stephen King, I'd really expect nothing less.

I only have two complaints (which is amazing for me) that are preventing me from giving this book five out of five stars. Those are: it wasn't the crime novel I was expecting and the pacing could have used some work.

Stephen King is my go-to author when I want to read an 'adult' book or a horror story, so I was expecting Joyland to be really well written, very enjoyable and maybe even a little creepy. (Of course, it ticked all three boxes.) I was aware that it was more of a crime/thriller novel than a horror one when I started, and I was fine with that. I enjoy thrillers. What I did have a little problem with is how the crime and mystery took a bit of a back-seat. While I did enjoy reading about Devin and the approach King had taken to tell his story (flashbacks often have the tendency to go horribly wrong, I've found, but this worked), I was left wondering 'when's the mystery going to be solved? I thought this was supposed to be all about the crime.'

I also felt that the build-up, while easy and enjoyable to read, took too long. When I was half-way through and nothing much had happened I did start doubting. But Joyland is under 300 pages, so I guess that was bound to happen. I don't know.

Complaints aside, I did thoroughly enjoy King's latest novel. 

The mystery was interesting and just when you thought you'd figured out the killer everything changed. I will admit, I did guess whodunit after a certain line (which I won't mention because it really is the tipping point if you're already on the edge of solving it), but I still wasn't expecting it because the character was just so darn nice. I flew through the last twenty or so pages, too impatient for the drama and killer reveal and the consequences that followed. And the ending... Wow. I knew what was coming yet it still hit me hard. It was an almost sweet ending to a book that was about anything but.

I feel like I haven't done Joyland any justice with my ramblings, and it does sound like I came away with more negatives than positives, but that is not the case at all

I highly recommend this book. To Stephen King fans, to fans of the 1970s, to fans of whodunit mysteries. To everyone.

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