11/22/63 by Stephen King: Time Travel Without a DeLorean

January 24, 2013 Crime, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Time Travel 46

Hey Bookworms, what did YOU do last weekend? January is pretty bleak in the Midwest. It’s cold. Sometimes it snows. It gets dark early. Not fun. The only good part about cold weather is that you’re not expected to leave the house to be productive. It is perfectly acceptable to spend the weekend READING while lounging in front of the fire… Under a blanket… In your penguin slippers.

This photo isn't brand new.. I mean, I've already taken down the Christmas trappings. The spirit remains the same.

This photo isn’t brand new.. I mean, I’ve already taken down the Christmas trappings, but the spirit remains the same.

I spent the entirety of my weekend snuggled up under blankets, reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’m pretty careful when it comes to Stephen King… I tread lightly because I don’t like having nightmares. I’m not a fan of scary clowns. The dead? Let them rest in peace. Don’t go raising them just to scare me. I absolutely REFUSE to go into “haunted houses” at Halloween. Just no. I’m anxious enough, thankyouverymuch. However, I decided to give King another shot because I really enjoyed The Stand.

11/22/63 isn’t a ghost story, it’s a time travel story! I feel like I repeat myself a lot on this blog, but… I LOVE TIME TRAVEL! An average guy in Maine (and obviously it’s Maine, because it’s Stephen King and he always writes about Maine) stumbles upon a bubble in the time space continuum that takes him back to 1958. Well, he doesn’t exactly stumble upon it. He’s introduced to it and given a mission. He’s to go back in time and make sure Kennedy does NOT get assassinated. The theory behind his mission is that the Kennedy assassination put any number of rotten scenarios into motion: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Vietnam War, global warming…


So our average guy, Jake, decides to make this happen, for the good of mankind and all. Can you imagine the kind of power you’d have in the past? Haven’t we all had the same fantasy while watching Back To The Future? By going back in time, you’d have the advantage of knowing the next big stock, the winner of the next big game. You could make a fortune. How would what you changed affect the future?! Would your changes cause you to disappear a la Marty McFly? Would your changes result in hideous wars and pestilence? Or would your changes result in… wait for it… WORLD PEACE?!


“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” (Image from Wikipedia)

Jake’s journey through his the 50s isn’t an easy one. Every time he tries to make a significant change to the past, he’s met with ridiculous and endless obstacles. Turns out, the past isn’t fond of being meddled with. Several times throughout the book, Jake refers to the past as an angry machine with teeth. I’m about to admit something terrible for a book snob. I never finished reading The Langoliers… I watched the miniseries instead. All I could picture when I read “angry machine with teeth” in reference to time travel were those badly animated cannonballs with teeth that devoured the stale past in The Langoliers. I’m not THAT familiar with King, but I know that he combined a lot of elements of his different novels into The Dark Tower Series. I’m not sure if King was intentionally pulling a Dark Tower here or if he was just out of ideas, but, dude. I noticed.

I’m not going to be Spoilerella today, so I won’t tell you if Jake’s mission succeeds, or if he breaks the future, or if he gets everything he ever wanted. You can read it for yourself if you’re curious. All in all? I liked this book. It was long, as King novels tend to be, but it was entertaining. The best part? It’s unlikely to give you nightmares. You time travel aficionados will likely find this as amusing as I did.

So Bookworms, if you could go back in time, what major event would you change? Do you think there would be unintended nasty consequences to your changes?

46 Responses to “11/22/63 by Stephen King: Time Travel Without a DeLorean”

  1. Care

    Yep, I enjoyed the HECK out of this one. I lurve time travel! And then it put me on a King reading binge. In fact, even though I would have agreed with you about nevereverever reading scary books, I will be attempting The Shining in February. But with friends. ONLY with friends!

  2. Ashley zizich

    Oh! I have this one waiting for me! I was skipping between World War Z and the Hobbit. (I have to admit World War Z was hard for me to get into) Why do I try to read 2 books at once?

  3. Teri

    I got that book for Christmas in 2011 and have yet to pick it up. Been a huge King fan since my teens but have been disappointed with him in recent years. Now that you’ve given it the thumbs up I may crack the spine open and have a go. Thanks!!

    ps….I’d change the night I lost my virginity. No question.

  4. KC @ Average: More or Less

    Such a good book. Thought-provoking is not the usual descriptive phrase one hears when talking about King (something I think is short-sighted), but this book really rings that bell. I was thinking ‘what if’s’ for weeks after reading it.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh I know! I was all caught up in butterfly effects and whatnot. Does turning left instead of right alter the course of my life? So many thoughts to think!

  5. Lisa G.

    Clare Fraser says you can’t change the past. I’ll take her word for it. LOL. (This was intended to make you smile today, since your blog makes ME smile, almost every time I read it). Have a good Thursday!

  6. Jayne

    I’m so glad you reviewed this book! I was intrigued when it came out, but could never decide if I actually wanted to give it a shot or not. So now I think I will (once I whittle down the stack of books I already have… if that’s possible…)!

  7. Kelly

    I looooved this book. Definitely not a Stephen King scare fest, which is a nice change of pace with him sometimes. 🙂 The ending reminded me of Lost, not in the specific details, but all the stuff about the linearity of time and whatnot.

    As for what I’d change, I don’t need much. Just let me buy like 10 shares of Apple stock when they first went public.

    • Words for Worms

      Nice. I think I’d keep it simple too. Just a little pile o’ cash for myself, thank you! 🙂 I hadn’t made the Lost connection, probably because I didn’t want to throw the book against the wall at the end…

  8. Lucy

    You do make this book sound entertaining, and now I’m curious to see if the mission is successful! Such a long book though- maybe I can fit in the audio sometime. Cute, cozy reading photo & great review 🙂

    • Words for Worms

      I got through the book in about 4 days, but I literally spent most of my weekend reading. That’s the only drawback with King. If you want to read a lot of books, it’s sometimes easier to avoid such bricks.

  9. Liesel Hill

    Great review. I’ve wondered about this one since it came out. Tell me, were there many politics in it? I worried about that because I King is a bit of a hippee, and he chose some very specific leftist events to deal with. Granted, that might just be because they were THE red-letter events of the decade, which I totally get. Just wondered if he was at all preachy, though. 😀

  10. Christi

    I have the same timidity with King novels as I am definitely the type to get nightmares. However, you’ve definitely piqued my interest. I’ll have to check out 11/22/63. 🙂

  11. Lyssapants

    I think changing anything in the past would always have some yucky consequences that we could never anticipate.
    I am just waiting for World War Z to give me nightmares…..hasn’t happened quite yet, but I am expecting it.

  12. Cindy

    I spent all weekend ready this book too. I really liked it, I was reminded of how much I love his writing. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of his books, I may have to try to read some again. And, I’m hooked on the time travel aspect too. I think I need to look for more books with time travel too.

  13. Mabel

    If I could go back in time, I would tell dear Margaret Mitchell to look both ways before crossing the street. 🙁

  14. lucysfootball

    As much as I’d like to change the past, I don’t think I’d dare. I think everything dominos, and one little thing can change so many other little things. So even changing the few things I’d LOVE to have done differently (or saving a few people who I’d like to save) might not be the right choice. As much as it kills me to say it.

    However, if I was actually in the situation…I can’t say that I could stop myself, either. If I was actually there? In front of the person I loved? And could stop him or her from doing that one thing that I knew would cause so much immediate pain to him or her, as well as his or her loved ones?

    Well, how could you not stop them?

  15. Sarah Says Read

    Oooo I do like time travel! And the premise is interesting. However having JUST finished The Stand, I’m going to have to wait a bit to read another giant King novel.

    I wanna watch Back to the Future now. I haven’t seen those movies in SO long! And hurrah to spending time cuddled up and reading, that’s basically what I did on all my days off this week. It was the best.

    • Words for Worms

      Yeah, you’ve got to take a break between the Kings… But the time travel aspect was super fun. We watched all the Back to the Futures New Year’s weekend. There was a marathon on somewhere or other. I’m still waiting for my HOVERBOARD!!!

  16. Rick Wiedeman

    I liked this one, but he got Dallas wrong. 🙂 Kids did not play soccer here in the 1960s, and there are no busses from Ft Worth to Dallas (and if there were, they’d take hours, with stops).

    But, still a good book.

    If want to go back in time and tell Dad he’s gonna get cancer. But then he wouldn’t have died, and that would have consequences. My parents probably would have divorced. I might have had a very different life. So, from a purely selfish pov, it might be bad.

    I think about stuff like that all too often.

  17. RebeccaScaglione

    I loved this book! If I could change something and know the consequences wouldn’t be crazy, I’d pull an Inglorious Basterds and burn down that theater with Hitler and the other Nazi’s inside!

  18. well minded

    I loved this book, and was going to recommend it to you after reading your review of The Stand (which I haven’t read), but then saw you’d since read it (do I qualify as a stalker, now?) Sheesh…your reviews are great! I recommend 11/22/63 all the time! LOVED it. And the only other King book I’ve read is Gerald’s Game. Eh…not so much.

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