Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This highly anticipated follow-up to King’s classic, THE SHINING was, for me, perhaps the most anticipated book of 2013. In the month leading up to its release, I even read THE SHINING again so I could have a seamless transition into DOCTOR SLEEP. In retrospect, I don’t think it was all the necessary as there are only shades of the previous work in this one.
I found the books to be a pretty enjoyable read. Clearly a master of his craft, it is written well and I think the beginning where we meet the troubled man that Dan Torrance has now become, had some incredible creepy and haunting moments. Sadly, for me, these were not carried through the rest of the book as the story begins to focus on the problem between the True Knot and the young girl with the powerful shine to her, Abra Stone.
I get that King didn’t want to rehash Danny’s old horrors and this was probably smart. I get that he wanted to tell a new story. But in some ways, I felt like maybe he wrote himself into a bit of a corner with the character of Abra.

>>Spoilers are coming next, so you have been warned.<<

Abra Stone is an incredibly talented and powerful kid. Maybe too powerful. So powerful that, when the big battle came at the end, she didn’t even have to be there. And the big battle wasn’t really a battle in the physical word anyway. King once again used the concept of a virtual field of battle, a battlefield of the mind, you might say. You know, like in IT or DREAMCATCHER as well as others. It is an often necessary and useful way for the characters to solve the problem but in this case I didn’t feel it was either. I had hoped the confrontation with the True Knot would be a more physical one.
I also found there to be a noticeable lack of danger to the protagonists in this book. At no time was I ever thinking that Dan and Abra are in some real deep shit and how are they going to get out of this? I mean… the girl was safely thousands of miles away at the end when the confrontation was going on. It just didn’t THRILL me.
But let me be clear. For what he chose to do, King did it very well. It’s nice and tidy and riveting in its own way. It’s just not the direction that I had hoped or thought that the story would take.
So, overall this is a solid, 3-star King book. If there is another sequel to this (and with the way he has set up the character of Abra Stone, it seems logical that there would be) I will read it. My big complaint about DOCTOR SLEEP is that I just didn’t find myself truly afraid for the characters at nearly any point and fear is a pretty crucial element for any horror novel to have.

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