Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: "The Shining" by Stephen King

Earlier in the summer, I bought a copy of the massive reference book known as 1001 Books to Read Before You Die and got a lot of fascinating information out of it regarding suggestions for works to add to my massive book collection. I would think that the collection would follow a path that featured works that were literature in the eyes of the experienced professors and doctors that studied the realm of written work for years. While I did not expect work from Stephen King to appear, it just so happened that The Shining made an appearance onto this list, which came as a bit of a shock, but at the same time I was quite thrilled. Most people remember The Shining for being a work that became a Stanley Kubrick directed movie with which some of the most notable cinematic cliches came about. Just take into account the two twin girls, Jack Nicholson roaring "Hereeeeeeee's Johnny!" as he cracks the door slightly opened as he plays the terror that is Jack Torrance, and the very last scene that portrays him as a ghost. Now take what I just said and remove it from the discussion at-large. The Shining is meant to be far more memorable than the film that was meant to just spark feelings of terror and not much else. What The Shining produces is more than just feelings of terror, but warm emotion in the form of true character development.

Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and his son Danny arrive at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado from their original living quarters in Vermont. The reason: Jack Torrance was let go as an English instructor because he assaulted a stuttering student, George Hatfield, because Hatfield damaged his car after being rejected from a debate team due to what was probably his stuttering. To put it clearer, Jack had to assemble the best possible team and rejected someone who took it personally. Jack (like many of Stephen King's characters) is trying to make it as a writer, but also has to make ends meet as he is a large factor in providing for his wife and son. A job at the Overlook Hotel would really support this cause, even if it means coming across plenty of demons that live there, including the ones that exist within ones self. These demons within ones self are also bound to be triggered by additional demons that hold no fear in taking possession of their victims. Jack, who was at one point an alcoholic (which runs in his family), comes off as quite a simple target.

While Jack is the subject of struggle that will eventually become an antagonizing force, it is Danny that is meant to bear our sympathy. This does not lie solely on the fact he is a young boy that is much like any boy his own age, but because he is being plagued by nightmares and possessed by his state of unconscious through a boy older than he named Tony. This is where he learns of "REDRUM," a word that haunts him throughout the book. Additionally, he is possessed by more realistic fears, primarily the fear of seeing his parents getting a divorce. Throughout the novel, the relationship between Jack and Wendy is at a strain to the point that Wendy is standing by Jack for the sake of Danny. Jack went after Danny before, but as the book progresses, whether or not it is truly Jack or the demons within the Overlook become far more vague. The message of excessive intake of alcohol remains a horror that exists far beyond the hotel. At the same time, details regarding room 217 and the terrifying existence of the hedge animals can barely be found elsewhere.

The title of the novel comes from the power that Danny possesses, with which he can read the emotions of different individuals and know exactly what is going on. This is more than just the feelings of bad weather through pain in your joints, but instead being aware of his parents and their struggles. This is also possessed by one of the hotel's residents that moves away toward the start of the novel, Dick Hallorann. Dick is a large black man who is an excellent chef that forms a friendship with Danny. His character finds importance as the novel progresses.

As I began reading The Shining, it truly sparked a reaction of discomfort. The fact that Danny was reacting in such a way really brought honest emotions of what it must feel like for a young child to be feeling terror. As the novel progresses, there are several monstrous figures that make up the plot of the novel, but it is the monster that Jack Torrance becomes that stands as being the most terrifying. I cannot confirm that this was completely Jack, but I will say that it did not help that Jack and his struggles would inevitably cause him to go off the wall in some particular way. We get a background of experiences involving the hotel through archives that Jack goes over, but I felt that it was out a point that did not necessarily grab my attention right then and there. It did, however, catch his attention at a point of some sanity, which is very important. The rational and the irrational Jack are two things that require absolute attention, because their transitions can be rapid.

The Shining was the third novel published by Stephen King, making up the beginning of his career. While he is known to set much of his work in Maine, this makes plenty of exceptions regarding the area of concentration. To have his characters begin in Vermont and endure much of their terror in Colorado is something very different for King, but it is also something that provides his resume with variety and creates an air of mystery to the unknown. I feel it is necessary to read this novel if you are looking for the "1001 Horror Novels to Read Before You Die." Regarding books as a whole, that will take much more experience and the reading of several other works, then I will get back to you.

Verdict: 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment