i just got done reading Doctor Sleep. it's got a couple minor flaws and one MAJOR (at least for me) flaw, but for the most part i really liked it. a little background: i realized when this book was announced that, despite having seen the film multiple times, The Shining was actually one of the few King books that had slipped by unread by me. and considering that King's unhappiness with the film adaptation, and the things that were changed or left out in it, were well known, i figured it was probably a good idea to go ahead and read that book first before i started this one. so i did just that (finished it up at the same time i was handing out Halloween candy last week, in fact) and then started in on Doctor Sleep. i'm glad i did, because the differences DO matter, but it's also at the heart of the major flaw i found with the new book.
first of all, i didn't find The Shining to be all that great a read. probably some of that is how i'm influenced by the movie, which i prefer. at the same time, i can totally understand King's unhappiness with the film. in particular, the de-emphasis of Jack's alcoholism and the way the film (and NIcholson's performance) make Jack seem too crazy too early. still, the film works better for me than the book. not that the film is necessarily better, but when they finally get to the hotel and the spooky stuff starts happening, it's a bit anticlimactic since i felt like i knew what was coming. that's kind of inevitable when you've seen the movie first i guess, but the supernatural parts of the book just didn't scare me much.
Doctor Sleep didn't scare me much either, but i actually enjoyed reading it more. i liked the characters better (i like adult Dan better than 5-year-old Danny) and i liked how the plot of the story progressed. and this is also one of King's better endings, which we all know can be a problem with his books sometimes. I really liked how it circled back into some stuff from The Shining, without going into too much detail.
as for the flaws: one of course is King's trouble with dialogue. it's not too bad here most of the time, but there's a couple of cringeworthy instances. surprisingly King does a pretty good job writing for a 13-year-old girl, but there's still a passage here and there that reminds you that King is getting a little old to write convincing dialogue for kids (though, thankfully, not nearly as bad as his kid-dialogue from Under the Dome). worse is some of the True Knot dialogue. there are a few passage here that, i swear, made me think King was engaging in some product placement. i don't know if it's that, or if King is trying too hard to prove that he's still "hip" and "with it" in regards to modern technology. but apparently there's some website out there that's MUCH better than Google Maps at providing satellite images, and King wants you to know all about it. another character gets really excited about his portable printer and sounds like he's reading ad copy. and the worst offender.... at one point, one of the characters has hacked into some website to get information, and another character asks him "how did you surf the internet while we're on the road?" to which he responds something like "it's 4G baby, welcome to the future". what makes this so bad is that, only a few paragraphs later, the character who asked the question is making a call with his iPhone. he owns and uses an iPhone, and yet he's puzzled about how another person can surf the web from inside their RV. that just hurt.
as for the major flaw, it revolves around the big "twist"/revelation of the book, so i'll go into spoiler-tag land to discuss that: so, we find out that Jack Torrance had an affair at some point after Danny was born and before dying at the Overlook. this is fine, there's nothing in The Shining that contradicts the possibility of that having happened. problem is (and having just read the Shining RIGHT BEFORE starting this book, it really jumped out at me) there's nothing in the Shining that supports it either. there are huge chunks of the Shining devoted to Jack Torrance's guilt: his guilt over his drinking, his guilt over breaking Danny's arm, his guilt over his inability to control his temper, his guilt over beating up one of his student's and losing his teaching job, his guilt at forcing Wendy and Danny into this position of having to come with him to the Overlook because it's his last chance. the entire book is pervaded with Jack Torrance's guilt. and yet, not a single mention of having cheated on his wife. you'd think, considering how guilty he is over these other things, that if he had cheated on his wife, that guilt would be right up there with those other things, right? of course, it's not there because when King wrote the Shining, the character hadn't cheated on his wife. if he had, the guilt of that would have been wrapped up along with all the other things that fueled his guilt, his pride, his anger, and ultimately allowed the Overlook to get inside him and manipulate him. this is one of those flaws that, if i had read the Shining 10 or 20 years ago, instead of just a week before, probably never would have occurred to me. but having the book fresh in my mind, it bothered me.
all that said, i did like the twist itself, just wish King could have made it all "fit" better.
oh, and one last thing:
TheBaxter wrote:actually, a "prescient" cat isn't all that strange. you hear stories all the time about dogs and cats in nursing homes that seem to be able to sense when someone's on the way out and they go and sleep on their chests or rub up against them or something, and it sounds from the description like this is more in line with the type of cat in the story. now if we're talking about the cat psychically talking to him and saying "hey, buddy, the old lady in room 4B is about to kick the bucket, you might want to pay her a visit", then yeah, now that would be ALF. i think it's just the way they phrased it ... "aided by a prescient cat"... that makes it sound goofy, in context if it's done the way i think it won't be as goofy as it sounds.
and....... i was right. that cat plays such a tiny role in the book, in fact, i'm surprised he was even mentioned in the publisher's blurb. it's nothing but a poorly-written blurb for the book, doesn't reflect the quality of the book itself at all.