35. Doctor Sleep, Stephen King (2013)
***spoilers are all up in this, y’all***
I started reading this all the way back in October but life has happened since then (broke up with my boyfriend, moved to another part of the city) so I didn’t finish it until recently. And I realized it wasn’t so much me procrastinating reading it because I was busy—it was because it didn’t hold my attention as much as I thought it would.
First things first: it helps to have read The Shining, but as long as you have a general idea of what went on, it’s not going to throw you off. Okay. Doctor Sleep. Whatever happened to Baby Danny?
Here’s what happened: he grew up to be an alcoholic with a guilty conscious. He drifts over to a small New England town where he finds a tight-knit community that supports his recovery and journey through AA. He aids the almost-dead in the hospice where he’s an orderly, using his shine to see them on their way to the afterlife.
There’s a golden child involved—a girl named Abra who’s shine is blazing brilliant, disturbing her parents with her telekinesis and psychic abilities. A lot of the book’s conversations between Abra and Dan (of course they meet eventually, like most King books this is set up in a series of vignettes as outward points that converge to a common situation near the end, like in The Stand) are telepathic.
The villains remind me once again of The Stand, of Randal Flagg’s camp of baddies. But this time they’re called the True Knot: a creepy RV-driving convoy of sorta-vampires. They suck out the essence of kids that shine, calling it “steam”. Led by the beautiful and terrifying Rose the Hat, this group picks up on Abra’s psychic scent and decides to claim the ultimate steamy child-prize.
So the throwdown is essentially when the True Knot and Abra, Dan, and their company of lovable Yankees finally meet at where? You guessed it. A camping ground built on what was once the Overlook Hotel. I won’t give away the ending, but I bet you can make a guess about who comes out the victor.
If I sound disappointed…I am. I might sound like I’m glossing over things but really, it’s all about the journey of everyone coming together, like The Stand and in a way, like IT. While it’s also about the redemption of Dan Torrance, the way he redeems himself gets kind of ridiculous. He uses the spirit of his dead father to help kill the bad guys? I mean come on. And Dan’s relationship with the preteen Abra makes me feel kind of uncomfortable, even though it overemphasized in it’s safety and okay-ness. (also, it involves the most boring twist of all time) The True Knot is the best part of the book because we seen those RV and trailers traveling so innocently down every highway, and I think to touch on something so mediocre and so everyday and turn it into a carnival of beasts is pretty clever.
So what I’m saying is that unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Stephen King fan, skip Doctor Sleep. It’s neat to see someone write about something they obviously have a deep and intimate knowledge of (getting sober) but with the storytelling being played fast and loose, I’m not into it.