As a very new convert to Stephen King I don’t really feel I have the chops to write about these books in the depths others have gone in to, there are people out there who have studied The Shining and waited a long, long time for the follow-up.
So, if you are looking for a thoroughly constructed dissection and comparison, I’d advise you to re-Google.
However, you seem lovely and should stay.
Also, I did read The Shining for the first time and went straight into Doctor Sleep which means their differences hit me quite quickly.
I loved The Shining, for all its supernatural shocks and creeps I found the darkness so much worse for its humanness. Jack Torrance is an awesome, terrifying personification of man’s weaknesses and flaws. A great big man-bulk of guilt, regret and frustration. He tore through that book like a juggernaut dragging his wife, son Danny and me into complete carnage.
After reading IT, I was desperate for The Shining to be stunning enough to keep my “OH MY GOD STEPHEN KING IS GOOOOD!” revelation rolling along, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Shining is a very different book to IT, it isn’t as full of the languid and often beautiful tale-telling, but it still stakes you to the spot and demands you read on and on.
About 300 pages into Doctor Sleep that roll stopped. Instead of the testament to hereditary suffering I thought I was reading, I was confused to discover I had turned the page onto some supernatural teen thriller.
In brief, we find Danny Torrance, middle-aged, working in a hospice using his shining to guide patients gently into the light. We also find Danny in AA, trying to battle the same demons that swallowed his father whole.
Meanwhile,without wanting to sound like Star Wars or The Bible, a very very shiny baby, Abra, is born and a group of grotesque, death eschewing pensioners are hell-bent on finding her and feeding off her pain and screams. This group is the True Knot, a vampiric type circle who must feed on the “steam”, or final breath, of kids that shine.
As much as I was amused by the True Knot, a rag-tag bunch “named like pirates”, who bumble about America in the guise of Winnebago driving retirees, the joke got tired pretty quickly and what had started out as a reflective book about pain, death and redemption turned into a (all be it very bloody), knock about quest with a tone and formula I recognized from many (very good) teen titles.
The sharp and dead white tone of The Shining was nowhere to be found. Instead King rattled out endless cultural references that made me want to yell: “I GET THAT IT’S 2013, I UNDERSTAND SHE IS A TEENAGER, I KNOW WHAT THE INTERNET IS”, awkward sounding action hero speak and lots of chapters where nothing really happens.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Doctor Sleep, it just didn’t feel the same as The Shining; I didn’t tear through it at quite the same pace, nor did I feel it looming at me from the bedside table when my light went out. It was a bit tame, a bit teen and not what I expected when I started it. I was desperate for more of Danny, more of the hospice and the patients he helped. Some of those scenes were immensely touching. I found that dynamic fascinating and would have devoured a whole book about the transition between life and death and Danny’s journey through recovery. I could have done with a lot less of Abra and the endless running about, which seemed to circle the inevitable ending for ages, plopping down exhausted just where I expected. This was a shame as some of the scenes from Abra’s childhood were exceptionally creepy and I had hoped for a far more thrilling character than she turned out to be.
And as for the cat….what really was the point in the end?
- ISBN: 9781444720723
- Edition I read published by Hodder, 2011
- Gifted copy
- ISBN: 9781444761160
- Published by Hodder, September 2013
- Lent a copy