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.

Book Review: The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman

Wednesday 13 November 2013

A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline LuardThe Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye
Robert Kirkman
Genre(s): graphic novel, horror, post-apocalyptic
Published: September 26th 2006
Pages: 144
Rating: 4 stars

The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.

I've been wanting to read a graphic novel for quite some time, and seeing as I've recently become more than a little involved in The Walking Dead TV series, I figured that this would be the best place to start.

Overall, I did really enjoy this first volume and will definitely be continuing with the series and reading graphic novels in general. It took me a few pages to get the balance between reading and looking at the pictures right, but once I'd got that sorted out I flew through this (seriously, I read it in an hour or two). I also feel that I'm going to be able to enjoy the graphic novels and the TV series as two separate entities. I was aware of the changes made before picking this up, but not to the extents by which they were made. The ending of this volume certainly took me by surprise!

The story telling throughout was very cleverly done as well, although I do feel in places it was a bit out of place. A few times, I found myself flipping back a page to make sure I hadn't missed a page or panel because the next bit of dialogue was jarring in how disconnected it was. (See: Rick talking to the horse he rescues)

That being said, I thought it was a very clever way to introduce character development and back stories without being glaringly obvious. 

My only other complaint is that I felt things happened very quickly. Maybe that's because, unlike a book, you don't have to read a full page of text and the text you do have to read is nearly always dialogue. I just felt that one thing after another after another was happening, and that the pacing was a bit off. However, I felt in some series of the TV show things moved too slowly, so perhaps I'll find a happy medium regarding pacing by combining the two. 

In short: I'll definitely be getting my hands on the next volume as this was an incredibly quick, fun read. The illustrations were done in a really nice style; they weren't too cartoonish but they always weren't overloaded with detail (them being in greyscale was a nice touch too, I found). I'm very excited to see how things play out and how I'll next be surprised. 
design by amanda inez