Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 5:57am

'Doctor Sleep' by Stephen King

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the King canon.

Author: Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Discussion has officially started!

I haven't been this excited for a King novel ever. I read his new stuff, but I'm not rushing to the store to get it. I'm not checking every review of that stuff. But when I heard about this one, I had to read up everything I could about it. You see, The Shining is one of my all time favorite King novels. And I don't think it was this way just for me. I think this might have been one of the most anticipated books of the year. I really can't wait to see what everyone thinks of this.

Get to reading!

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers November 1, 2013 - 10:53am

Oh goody. I've got LOTS to talk about for this one. 

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne November 1, 2013 - 4:05pm

Yay, I can finally participate in one of these! I own the book and have already read it. Wee! This will generate some interesting discussion. Most people seem to really enjoy it, but I've talked to a number who really hate it as well. I read it in I think 4 days, which is remarkable for me. I don't get that much time for reading.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 4:15pm

Bout damn time! ;)

King Grotus's picture
King Grotus from New Jersey is reading Inherent Vice November 1, 2013 - 6:39pm

I haven't read The Shining, but I'll have to pick up The Shining and Doctor Sleep now. I've read King's short stories and enjoyed them. I've only ever read Cujo, Firestarter, and 'Salems Lot as far as his novels go.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 11, 2013 - 3:25pm

definitely will be down for this. also, re-read the Shining if you want, i'll be doing a column with Leah on it, and comparing the two.

leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. November 12, 2013 - 5:11am

And it's going to be SO awesome! :D Seriously, this is going to be a fun discussion. I'm also excited to participate here. :D

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated November 23, 2013 - 9:35pm

I read it.

selenem's picture
selenem from Ontario, Canada is reading The Cider House Rules, by John Irving November 26, 2013 - 2:33pm

So...where's the discussion? :) Nice to be here. I thought it started a little slow, got REALLY good in the middle, and then the last 50 pages or so just fell flat. I was disappointed in the ending. I mean...The greatest living fiction writer (arguably, of course), and he can't do better than the hacks who wrote Carrie 2? Eesh...

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 26, 2013 - 3:40pm

well, first selenem, this starts in DECEMBER. second, while i don't think it's his best work, i totally disagree with you about the ending. i was practically in tears in a few parts. but i was expecting more of an epic battle there, i'll give you that, it was a little anticlimactic, the fight. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 27, 2013 - 6:12am

I haven't gotten to the end yet, but Stephen King isn't known for his endings.

I feel like he's hit or miss on them. Some of them have been great, but most of them have just kind of fizzled out. I think it's because he writes this long detailed stories with so much going on - no ending will ever live up to the rest of the book.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 28, 2013 - 9:34pm

^^this will be a good topic for our discussions. i've heard all kinds of reactions, and mine are kind of mixed, too.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 29, 2013 - 7:30am

Well after The Stand, every larger than life story of his has to end in an epic battle between good and evil. If it doesn't, it feels like a let down. It's kind of why people complained about the end of Under the Dome. But where was he supposed to go with that one? No ending could have done that story justice.

 

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne November 30, 2013 - 1:31pm

Endings are tough. You can't please everyone, but beginnings have a higher chance of that since people will fill in the open-ended blanks with their own imaginations. Wonder toward their own ends, as it were. With endings, either you leave it ambiguous and piss off the people who hate that, or you make it concrete and piss off everyone who doesn't like where you took it. You really can't win. Poetry to one is fizzle to another, you know?

I remember how much I loved the ending to Bringing Out the Dead, which was different in the book than the movie. I thought it was poetic and sad and beautiful and personal. I told my mom about the book and she got a copy from the library, then surprised me by totally loving the book; but she really didn't like the ending at all. Felt it just sort of ended and nothing really happened.

I honestly don't know how I feel about King endings in general. Usually by the end I feel so swept up in the book itself, exhausted by the events, that just to have it over is sort of the main thing. But I did really like the ending of Doctor Sleep, and it made me teary-eyed like Richard. I don't remember the end of Insomnia, and I think I hated most of the endings of the Dark Tower books (but especially the end of Wizard and Glass with all that what-the-fuck-are-you-smoking Wizard of Oz stuff—still haven't finished the last couple books in the series), and I don't remember anything of substance about the end of The Shining either. Most of the other books I've read were books of stories, so I guess I can't comment too well on his endings in general. I've not read a ton of his stuff (though I'm reading The Dark Half right now).

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 1, 2013 - 5:47pm

I was fine with his endings that I've read, even the Mixed Blessing ex Machina of the Dome.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 1, 2013 - 10:00pm

i just got done re-reading THE SHINING and the ending was so great, much better than the film, and i loved the film. but we're getting ahead of ourselves. or maybe, not. since TS did come first. i assume everyone reading DS will have read TS, no?

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 1, 2013 - 11:38pm

I did, though it's been a lot of years. I remembered it just fine, though, as far as dealing with references in DS. DS sort of catches you up to speed in the beginning anyway, if it's been a while. And the rest of it doesn't seem all that dependent upon TS anyway, in the end. I think you could put it all together just fine even if you'd never read it. Even the references are sort of explained or made known in an obvious way.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 2, 2013 - 11:29am

@Richard - I am not sure if I have read it or not, but if I did it was so crazy long ago that it doesn't matter.  But I am 3/4 of the way through it so if you want to bring it up feel free I should be done by tomorrow. 

Garnet Whyte's picture
Garnet Whyte December 2, 2013 - 2:45pm

"What's up , doc"

I found that I enjoyed Doctor Sleep, but not to the levels I hoped for. The True Knot seemed like paper ghosts, little feared and easily dispensed. Even the woman from room 217 who entered with menace, simply turned to ash. Overall I'd compare it to a funhouse ride where there were some thrills, but little genuine palpable malice.

7/10

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 2, 2013 - 3:00pm

I'll echo the last part. Very little palpable malice, and while the True Knot were sort of fun and interesting, they sure weren't scary. There was next to nothing scary in the entire book. The first couple of pages were more chilling than the whole tome that followed. That said, I got a lot more out of it in other ways than I expected to, and I really came to enjoy the characters and to identify with Danny. It was a very surprising book for me, and despite the general lack of horror, I found it to be a page-turner. Finished it very quickly.

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes December 3, 2013 - 8:22am

For me, this book was typical Stephen King--not very scary, but very unsettling. And I dig that about him. It's the reason I've read just about everything he's written. He gives you these normal(ish) characters who battle these outrageous bad guys--who else could write about vampires, sorcerers, serial killers, rabid dogs, evil clowns, turtle gods, time travelers, and telekinetic teens so believable. This wasn't his strongest book, but it sure as hell keep my attention cover to cover. I'd definitely recommend it.     

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 4, 2013 - 5:49am

For me this was way scarier than the Shining, or anything else he's written.  "Love anyone?  They can be snatched away at any moment and you'll never know why."

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers December 5, 2013 - 7:17am

I think if King would have written this book a little sooner after The Shining, it would have been much different, not just in terms of time, but in terms of the actual horror mileage he would have gotten on the page. Ultimately, it wasn't scary for me, just more of an amped up Urban Fantasy, not that there's anything wrong with that. 

Sadly, I don't think the book is going to last for me. Other than just a few characters, I can't remember any of their names, and that's a bad sign. That means the connection wasn't there. It's not good when I can't remember things about a story.

The one thing I did take away from the book is how King structured it. The beginning is basically a very long, detail Prologue. He didn't call it that, though he might have when he started pounding it out. I feel like the beginning was the last part he actually wrote because it feels more polished than the ending. When chapter one starts, I feel that's where he first started writing. He needed to get a feel for Danny, that was important, and he had to make it realistic for us. There's no telling how King actually did it, for I haven't read anything about it, but it feels like the writing wasn't linear at all, and I'm sure with a story of this scope, you have to nail the character first before cobbling together a history for him, even if you know that history in your heart and mind. 

Sounds like I didn't like it, but I did, really. It's new King, with his new writing style that takes full advantage that he's Stephen King. He's allowed some sidestepping now and then, because he's just an old trailblazer that forged his own path and created a brand. The story in any lessor writer's hands would have busted at the seams and flopped on the floor, lifeless and completely forgotten.

Kenneth Jobe's picture
Kenneth Jobe from Wichita is reading American Gods December 5, 2013 - 3:07pm

I agree with what a lot of you have said. I felt like it was just a mediocre-to-pretty-good story, but told really well. If someone else had written it I may not have finished it.

The True Knot was an interesting concept, but I was surprised at how vulnerable they were. I would've liked some scenes early on showing just how bad they could be (the murder of the baseball player was bad, but even that seemed out of necessity rather than flat-out badness).

I never felt like there was ever much sense of danger aside from when Crow Daddy first abducted Abra, but even then she (with Dan's help, of course) thwarted him fairly easily.

The only time I felt any character was in danger was when Dan was sick on the way to Colorado.

I also found the climax fairly disappointing.

I enjoyed the book, but I didn't devour it like I thought I would. I have a hard time imagining a film version of this without some souping-up, although I'm sure there must be one in the works - does anyone know?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 5, 2013 - 6:03pm

yeah, i do agree with most of what you've said Bob and Jobee. i don't think it even sniffs my Top Twenty King Books, but in terms of his last five books or so, i thought it had echoes of his earlier work, and we very compelling.

i agree about the True Knot, i found them fascinating, and wish he'd done more with them, the violence was minimal, just that one boy early on, i think. and the ending, it needed to risk more, and i think if he'd written it 20 years ago, some of the main characters wouldn't have survived.

i mean, don't you remember Oy?

 

***DARK TOWER SPOILERS***

I can remember books of his where beloved characters die, not in the beginning, and not just for effect, but powerful deaths that really upset me, such as Oy.

***END DARK TOWER SPOILERS***

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 6, 2013 - 12:16pm

FRIDAY 1:18 PM CST

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King LIGHTNING DEAL at Amazon, $6.99 for the HARDCOVER! 91% sold at this point. If you wanted it, get it now. It's okay, the belly of the beast is warm and soft.

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Sleep-Novel-Stephen-King/dp/1476727651

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 11, 2013 - 7:19am

My life has been too hectic...

I'm still chipping away at this, but not as fast as I'd like.

I'm really surprised there aren't more people discussing this. I know I saw more people posting on here that they've read it.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 11, 2013 - 4:11pm

well, i kind of feel like between my BookShots and my conversation with Leah that i'm almost all talked out. here's the baton, people. somebody speak up! :-)

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 11, 2013 - 4:38pm

One thing that really jumped out at me was the alcoholism. I wouldn't consider myself a true alcoholic, but I have at times struggled with overconsumption that sprang from some very dark periods of my life, and that all struck me as very well done and very authentic in the book. Makes sense, given King's own past, but I guess I just wasn't expecting that to work as well as it did. That made the book feel sort of empowering for me, or hopeful, maybe, if empowering is too obnoxious a word. It certainly helped me identify with Dan.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 11, 2013 - 9:59pm

@Richard - I'm not sure the folks who read popular books on here are used to checking out the book club.  Would be awesome if it was on the main page.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 12, 2013 - 7:11am

It gets promoted as news. And the posts get archived here: http://litreactor.com/tags/book-club

(which I admit I had to search for...)

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 12, 2013 - 7:12am

They also do a facebook thing about it every month.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 13, 2013 - 2:05pm

i'll chime in on the alcoholism. i was also surprised that it at the center of THE SHINING as well as DOCTOR SLEEP. i forgot Danny was abused by Jack, broke his arm. but i think based on where King was when he wrote the Shining, it makes sense. i also thought it was cool to see how Danny overcame the addiction. the book starts off pretty grim. which made the ending, while a bit rushed and not as vengeful as I'd hoped, still very emotional, i teared up, i'll admit it.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated December 13, 2013 - 9:44pm

I used to work at a rehab, and went to a lot of AA meetings, even though that isn't a issue I have, as part of my work.

I loved the line "...70% true, 30% rara bullshit."  I felt it was a perfect description of AA.

Shannon Barber's picture
Shannon Barber from Seattle is reading Paradoxia: A Predators Diary by Lydia Lunch December 15, 2013 - 3:44pm

I just started reading this. I'm about a quarter of the way through I have many thoughts about it so far.

Jeannette Welsh's picture
Jeannette Welsh from Marlboro NJ is reading The Chronology of Water December 16, 2013 - 4:16pm

The shining is the book that got me hooked on reading!  I was a pretty lazy student in high school.. and it was book report time.  (this was 1985 so there were no quick book review and plot outlines available on Google yet! Do they still do book reports anymore?)

I scoured the school library looking for something to use that i wouldn't have to actually read.  When i saw the book  i grabbed it since i had already seen the movie a few times.  In my laziness, i knew that endings were sometimes different so i would read the first chapter, a middle chapter and of course the last chapter.  I was hooked by the time i got to the end of the last page of the first chapter. Stephen King had reeled me in and i have never stopped reading since then. He opened my world!  One day, i will meet him and thank him... i don't think he knows what he has done for me!  I love that he wrote this sequel and i love that it makes me feel like i came full circle along with Danny Torrance!  I did always want to know what happened to that little guy!

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 19, 2013 - 7:53am

I'll be finishing today.

What do you guys think of the reveal with Abra's mom, Lucy?

Do you think it felt cheap or well written? I'm torn. It does explain a lot. But it also doesn't add anything at this point. I feel like if Dan discovered this earlier in the story and there were more clues, it would have made more sense. And then King could have maybe found a way to use it better (but then again, I haven't finished the book yet...).

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 18, 2013 - 1:31pm

Can't say it bothered me at all, no.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 19, 2013 - 10:43am

The True Knot weren't scary at all. I mean, they were old people. They even had the same problems as old people - hard of hearing, aching joints, etc. And the measles. Each of them had some power, but nothing really compared to Abra. I think if - like Richard said above - they were shown doing more (killing more?), they might have been scarier. More menacing. But they come off as a joke. The ONLY reason they could survive so long was because their camouflage was so good.

While Dan's method of killing them was fast - I thought it was pretty genius. King usually doesn't do such a good job of hiding a gun and pulling it back out. He did a good job with that one.

The end was kind of a fizzle. But I still enjoyed it. Like I said above (before I finished the book) - how do you end a King book? It's almost impossible to have an ending match the epicness of what's going on in the book. But he did a good job with this one. At least, I was satisfied.

I wouldn't consider this book a horror really though. More of a psychological thriller or supernatural thriller. I was never really scared. A couple moments I was tense, maybe, but never scared.

After finishing it, I just couldn't shake the thought - Where the hell does he get all the words? I mean, 50 books. And he's still pumping out quality material. And there were some moments in this book (at least in my opinion) that sit up there with Literary Fiction. Most of it was the same down to earth Stephen King. But some of it - there really was some good prose in there.

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne December 19, 2013 - 11:12am

I'd say that's a good assessment. That's pretty much how I felt about it. I thought the writing itself was really good, better than a lot of earlier King, a little more florid. Joyland was well written, but more down to earth. I'm going back and reading The Dark Half right now, and man has he grown since then. It's not bad or anything, but the difference between that and Doctor Sleep is really noticeable.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 19, 2013 - 1:47pm

go re-read THE SHINING, it still holds up. also, THE STAND is an epic ending for a massive book.

i'll still read everything he publishes, few good books coming out next year, too, i think. MR. MERCEDES is one. thought there was another. i still think he's very entertaining.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 20, 2013 - 8:10am

The Stand is among my favorite books. Definately one of the books that's really stuck with me over the years.