Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep is actually the first book I've read in 2014.  I may have posted a review on January 2nd, but it was a book I'd finished in 2013.  At over 500 pages, Doctor Sleep was a heavy duty book, both in time it took to read, as well as trying to hold it!  I was definitely not disappointed in this one.  It was really one of the types of books that got me into Stephen King.  Although you can tell a bit of difference, because the alcoholic goes to AA and gets cleaned up, and it is kind of what helps in the end I think.  Whereas in the book that this is the sequel to, The Shining, the dad was an alcoholic, which definitely was a part of the problem.

Little Danny Torrance is all grown up in this book.  Well, we do start out with him much younger, when his old friend, Dick Halloran, the chef at the Overlook hotel where the tragedy in The Shining took place, comes to him, and helps him to deal with his "shining" as Dick calls it.  He helps Danny to create what they call lock boxes in his head, and shows him how to trap these ghosts from the Overlook that have followed him in the boxes.  While this helps, as Danny, now calling himself just Dan, gets older, he still has some issues.  He can get feelings about other people from touching them.  He can tell when people are close to death, because he will see their faces covered with flies.  And since alcoholism is considered to be genetic, he soon sinks into the same kind of pattern as his father.  Oh he'll try really hard to stay sober, usually after something bad happens, like a fight that gets him thrown in jail, or the one event that stays with him throughout the story.  After a night of too much alcohol, he takes a girl home.  But he doesn't remember all that happened at first, when he wakes up next to her in bed.  He soon realizes that all his money is gone.  Not because she stole it, but because she convinced him to buy cocaine.  As he wanders through the house to find his clothes, he sees the remains, including quite a bit of cocaine left.  Then he hears a little boy's voice.  This is right as Dan's thinking of taking money from the woman's wallet.  He does stop the boy from going to eat or play with the cocaine, but he can see on the boy bruises, meaning someone has been abusing the boy.  But Dan leaves, with her money, anyway.  He saw food stamps in her wallet, and figured that was enough.

And so he continues to wander around the country.  Finding jobs, then losing them when he gives in to the drinking again.  At the same time this is going on, we learn of another group called The True Knot.  This is a group of people who take this "shining" or as they call it "steam" from kids to keep themselves alive, an almost immortality.  We see them as they pick up a young woman with the gift, but then decide to pull her into their group instead of stealing her steam.  Later on we are even subject to seeing them take a boy with the steam, and how they torture him in order to make the steam taste better.  It's a horrible scene in the book, pure Stephen King.

Finally Dan hits a town where he runs into some people who help him get sober.  The first guy he meets is named Billy, an older gentleman running a model train for the town.  Billy sends him to his boss, Casey, who is not tolerant of alcoholics, partly because he once was one.  And he soon becomes Dan's sponsor, and gets him into AA.  And eventually Dan gets a job at the local hospice.  Which is in a building he first saw when he got to town, and that he soon moves into the attic of.

Our other main character is Abra. We learn about her basically at her birth, she is born with a caul on her face.  Which freaks out her parents a bit, but her great-grandmother, who they call Momo, knows that it means she'll have special abilities.  And she does, there is one night when her parents both have really scary dreams, and in them, they see their daughter with numbers on her forehead. Although, mom and dad each see a different number.  They are woken from the dream by Abra's crying.  And she won't stop.  She keeps crying, and so the next day they take her to the doctor, which brings in our other main character, John, or Doctor John.  While they are at the doctor's office, we learn the date is September 11, 2001.  And the numbers that the parents saw on her forehead in the dreams were the numbers of the flights.

Soon all these characters will come together in ways that will lead to the big finale, the big show off.  And the show off isn't all easy and perfect, no, that wouldn't be Stephen King.  I really loved the story.  It was worth all the arm aches I got from trying to hold it while I was eating, or even sitting on the couch.  There are a few of King's recent books I haven't read.  I'm not caught up on the Dark Tower series, don't know if I ever will be, as it was never my favorite.  I didn't read the one about the JFK assassination, not sure if I want to.  And I haven't read the one, Joyland, either.  I never read The Colorado Kid, although I do love the tv show Haven, so I should probably read it since it is sitting on my TBR shelf.