Book Review on Doctor Sleep, sequel to The Shining.
If you’re an avid reader like myself, you undoubtedly have that handful of characters that never stray far from your heart or mind. Many of these characters are ones that have been with us for a long time, through entire series of books; others left their impression through a single story. In Doctor Sleep, King explores new territory by taking a well-loved character from 35+ years ago (1977) and reintroducing him as an adult, as if all that time really did pass.
**Before you continue on, I recommend reading my book review of The Shining, the 35-year-old prequel to Doctor Sleep.
Doctor Sleep reintroduces readers to Danny/Dan Torrance. Danny is the 5-year-old boy from The Shining who was haunted by his own paranormal/psychic abilities in the winter of 1977 when his father took on the job as winter caretaker of a historic (and haunted) hotel. Dan is a single, recovering alcoholic in his 40s who sweeps his supernatural gifts under the rug, only using them to help people pass on in the hospice where he works. That is, until he meets Abra Stone. When Abra, a girl in her young teens, hits a complicated, scary situation, she reaches out to Dan using her own supernatural abilities and discover their abilities are stronger when together then they ever could be alone.
When a pack of immortal murders senses Abra as a threat, they make it their goal to track her down, suck all the “Shining” out of her and, once she is good for nothing else, kill her. As the danger increases, so does the bond between Abra and Dan, creating a war between good and evil where neither side is willing to back down.
Like always, King has excellent characters. They are diverse and round with identifying features. They are true to their personality traits that are introduced from the start, and in this case, true to their history and family attributes as well.
To come back to a character that was so deeply loved and remembered had to be a daunting task. As King re-acquaints us with Danny Torrance, he runs the risk of disappointing the reader who thought they knew what was in store for him so many years ago.
Another risk with returning to the well-loved Danny Torrance 35+ years later is that he wouldn’t feel like the same character; he would just feel like a grown man with similar abilities to the young Danny. King does two things very well to avoid this: 1) He shows the reader short scenes of Danny growing up and becoming the man that he currently is. 2) Dan stays very true to his roots and to his family. By putting traits of Jack Torrance (Danny’s father in The Shining) in the adult Dan, King allows the reader to connect to that part of the Torrance family that they already knew. It’s no secret that many of us grow up to become our parents. 😛
The novel has a typical structure where the reader is introduced to a few characters that seem to be unrelated but eventually, slowly, their paths collide. Keeping each character’s storyline interesting while slowing weaving them together creates a lot of anticipation and excitement for the climax of the story.
King tackles the large time gap between The Shining’s 5-year-old Danny Torrance to the 40-year-old Dan by showng the reader short scenes from his life between now and then. King shows only the relevant scenes, getting to the present of the story as soon as possible. This transition is a large part of why Dan still feels like the same character as little Danny Torrance.
Although the novel was a great story and well written, it didn’t capture my attention like some King novels. Part of that was because there was too many unrelated supernatural things occurring. As I stated in my book review on The Shining, my favorite science fiction is that which is believable. Meaning with only a slight twist in our present world, the story could actually happen. The Shining may be the best example of that closeness to reality that I have ever read. Doctor Sleep, however, strays farther from our modern world. I never doubted the abilities that Dan or Abra uncovered within themselves, but I did doubt the supernatural abilities of the villainous group called the True Knot. As the book went along, this group seemed to have more and more unexplained abilities that would appear too conveniently. This stretched reality too far for my liking and lowered the level of suspense and horror. This could have been easily prevented by explaining near the beginning of the story that each member of the True Know possessed a different type of ability, and explaining a few.
Let me know what you thought about Dan in his 40s. Did he feel like the same character to you?
I’m taking bets: How long before they make a Doctor Sleep movie??
Posted on July 10, 2014, in Book Review and tagged book review, books, character, Doctor Sleep, horror, science fiction, sequel, Stephen King, the shining, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.