Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doctor Sleep - 5 Reasons Why

The works of Stephen King followed me around for the majority of my early adolescence.  Literally.  Throughout middle school, in addition to all my heavy textbooks I almost always carried a Stephen King tome in my already leaden backpack.  Why?  Because he’s amazing, and his stories are worth the weight.  I’m here to tell you that if you’re a huge fan of The Shining, and always wondered what happened to little Danny Torrance after the Overlook exploded, Doctor Sleep was worth the wait.  (See what I did there?  I’m super punny today.)

Now books are on Kindles, and there’s no need to carry around a doorstop of a paperback novel which will in all likelihood get soaked in Pantene Pro-V shampoo that you need to lug around for gym class, effectively pairing the scent to the novel ‘The Stand’, and making you forevermore violently nauseous at the scent of anything Pantene….. 

Mmmmm notes of lilac and lotus flower, mixed with just a soupçon of death and rotting flesh! 
Op!  Sorry.  Semi-traumatic childhood tangent over.  Without further digression, the following are 5 reasons why you should read King’s Doctor Sleep:

One – It serves as a nice companion piece to The Shining.  If you’re looking for a Shining Redux, this isn’t it.  Then again, nothing is like the original.  A book that horrified generations of readers into leaving their lights on at night, and tiptoeing with trepidation down deserted hotel hallways, and in the case of Joey from Friends, stashing the book in the freezer for protection.  Doctor Sleep isn’t terrifying like its predecessor, but it does follow Danny (now ‘Dan’) through adulthood as he copes with his unique childhood trauma.  Readers get a glimpse of flashbacks through Dan’s eyes, with his now adult perspective on many of the events that occurred at the Overlook.  Old characters are also re-introduced.  

Two – The book is very heartfelt.  Remember those sweet parts in the original book where Dick Halloran helped guide mentor Danny as he learned about the ‘shine’?  For Danny and the reader those experiences were so fraught with peril, but Halloran helped us all through and made us feel a little glow of care and compassion inside despite the horrors that lie around every corner in the Overlook.

Readers of the original will also find comfort in the manner in which the novel is written.  Like in ‘The Shining’, parentheses denote telepathic conversations between two people with the shine.  These conversations happen frequently in Doctor Sleep, as Dan encounters many people with the shine throughout the book.  And, akin to Halloran helping him in the original book, Dan even helps a young child make sense of it all. ‘Doctor Sleep’ showcases a kinder, gentler King.

Three – There’s a little more backstory to the Shining here.  In the original, most of the information was provided through the perspective of a six-year old boy who had a very limited understanding of his abilities.  Here, through the lens of a more learned Dan Torrance, readers are given a bit more insight into what the shine can do.  It seems like King thought of the shine as a conglomerate of abilities from several of his novels ('Carrie' and 'Firestarter' definitely come to mind) and it’s a delight to see what he reveals in 'Doctor Sleep'.

Four – It’s Stephen Effing King.  If you were a Constant Reader of King, like I had been in high school, his voice is as clear as ever.  Reading his words again after a long hiatus was like having an engaging and wonderful chat with a long lost friend.  If you were a fan of King once upon a time, but haven’t been back in awhile, I would highly recommend you use 'Doctor Sleep' as a jumping off point.

Five – Remember the kid who played Danny Torrance in Kubrick’s movie adaptation? It’ll make you wonder where he is now.  And my friends, I’m here to tell you that he grew up to be a member of that boy band, 98 Degrees.   You never knew that, did you?  That’s because it’s a lie.  A wonderful lie that I desperately wish was true, but a lie nonetheless.  IMDb tells me that he’s a science teacher in Missouri.  The more you know, right? 

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