Thursday, August 15, 2013

Joyland; Stephen King

Title: Joyland
Author: Stephen King
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: SImon & Schuster Audio
Edition: audio
Reader: Michael Kelly (very good)
Source:  publisher
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5

Devin Jones, is a 21 year-old college kid from New Hampshire who is going through a rough time. His girl friend Wendy calls it quits so he decides he needs a change of scenery and something to keep him busy over the summer. He takes a job at a North Carolina, beach community amusement park. It's 1973 and the amusement park run down and barely surviving. No modern or fancy rides, instead it's draw tends to be the kinds of things that we've seen in the movies in years gone by. There's a boardwalk, a few rides and the types of attractions sometimes found at a county fair: a fortune teller, some sexy girls who take pictures of the visitors and then pressure them to buy a photo or take a chance etc. 

It doesn't take Devin long to get and make a few friends. He meets a few other college kids who live at the same boarding house and are also working at the amusement park. Together with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, the threesome find themselves becoming good friends, doing what teens do. The also find themselves focused on and unsolved murder case of a young girl that happened years earlier in the House of Horrors at Joyland. The girl may be gone but her ghost seems to alive and well. There's also Annie and ten-year old Michael, a boy with MS and is in a wheelchair, who play a significant part in the story.
 
So is Joyland a horror fest, crime fiction, a murder mystery or ghost story?  Honestly, I suppose it's a little of all of these, except for the horror perhaps -- there wasn't any of that like some of King's other works. The story is narrated by Devin (Dev) some 40 years later and I think that worked well. I liked listening to the 60 year-old Dev, reflect on that impressionable summer he spent at Joyland. King did a great job on his character, and everything about being a college kids in 1973 seemed to feel right. For me, Joyland seemed like a cool coming of age story -- the 70's setting, the colorful characters etc. However, for such a short novel, by King standards, it felt like something was missing.  I listened to the audio version which was well done, read by Michael Kelly. Not perfect, but overall, a decent summer book.

16 comments:

  1. After 11/22/63, I want to try another of King's titles but I'm not sure this is the right one for me.

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  2. I have this from the library. The cover clinched the deal for me...shallow??

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  3. We missed this one some how! Sounds good.

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  4. I've had my eye on this one...I like the 70s era, and the absence of horror (LOL). I can take that in small doses only.

    Short...that would work for me, too, as I've over-indulged in hefty books lately. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. It's been about a million years since I've read a Stephen King (Yes, I'm the one who hasn't read 11/22/63). There's something that draws me into this one. I've got kinda a think for creepy carny type settings.

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  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this audiobook, Diane! But no horror?!

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  7. I thought Joyland was on the quiet side.

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  8. It sounds fun, and at least there are ghosts in it, even if not outright horror. I'm counting down until his Dr Sleep is released, the sequel to The Shining! Now that will have horror in it (it better, anyway). Meanwhile, this is a good review of Joyland, and I definitely want to pick it up now.

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  9. My husband liked this one too; however, he did say it wasn't like Stephen King's other books.

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  10. I'm reading this one for my book group later in the year - I can't wait!

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  11. Sounds like an exciting beach read. I started listening to Under the Dome and must say, had to stop after maybe 1/4 of it. Have you read it? I just couldn't stand the language. Is that how people talk in the U.S? An F word to start every sentence. Of course not. But why bring that kind of vernacular into the writing? The TV show isn't like that. Guess they have to self-censor. But I was really put off when listening to the audio book. This is the first time I've ever complained about the language use of a book. I'm usually quite lenient about that. ;)

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  12. Sounds like an exciting beach read. I started listening to Under the Dome and must say, had to stop after maybe 1/4 of it. Have you read it? I just couldn't stand the language. Is that how people talk in the U.S? An F word to start every sentence. Of course not. But why bring that kind of vernacular into the writing? The TV show isn't like that. Guess they have to self-censor. But I was really put off when listening to the audio book. This is the first time I've ever complained about the language use of a book. I'm usually quite lenient about that. ;)

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  13. I have this on my list to read. I'm excited to read a shorter book from King.

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  14. I have this in my "to read" pile. Must read it before Doctor Sleep comes out.

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  15. I agree with what a previous commenter said: The cover is the clincher. I like (but don't love) Stephen King and there always seems to be something more than simply a new Stephen King book to coax me into reading his novels. The cover will do that for this novel.

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  16. I've come to appreciate King over the years. I probably won't take the time to read all of them, but that's always a possibility!

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