Saturday, June 7, 2014

Doctor Sleep

     Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is the sequel to The Shining.  This is an unusual story and a unique sequel.  You don't need to have read The Shining, but it adds to the story if you have.  In case you have only seen the movie, the book is very different.
    In Doctor Sleep, Danny Torrance is all grown up, still shining, and still struggling to put the horrors of The Overlook Hotel to rest.  Dan uses alcohol to keep the demons at bay, but he learns he takes himself wherever he goes.  He finally settles in Frazier, New Hampshire, turns to AA to help him recover, and finds a job he loves.  Dan is an orderly in a hospice and uses the shining to help terminally ill people transition to the other side peacefully.
     Abra is born just before September 11, 2001 and shows psychic talents never seen in newborn babies.  As she grows, her shining intensifies.  One night she "sees" a group of psychic vampires torture and kill an eleven-year-old boy.  The group call themselves the True Knot.  They travel the country in RVs feeding off children's steam, the essence the shining gives off when they are tortured and killed.  After ingesting the boy's steam, they become young and healthy again...for a while.  Their leader, Rose the Hat, realizes Abra is there and senses the girl's steam could keep them alive for a long time.  She forms a plan to kidnap the girl.  Dan finds himself helping Abra survive in the same way Dick Hallorann helped him as a child.
     I liked watching Danny live life making amends for his past and coming to grips with his family's demons.  I adore Abra.  She is intelligent, strong, feisty, and loving.  If I had to fight supernatural evil, I would feel safe with Abra at my back.  I also like Rose the Hat.  She is the inverse of Abra.  She is intelligent, strong, feisty, and loving, but she is also an evil witch to be reckoned.
     I like Dan's ability to help the terminally ill people find peace, especially with a cat who has the uncanny ability to know when the patients are about to die.  I also love the way the final confrontation comes full circle at the point the Overlook Hotel once stood.
     Stephen King is a great storyteller and sometimes he is a brilliant writer.  In this book, there are flashes of brilliance, but mostly it is good storytelling.  One of the problems I had was the coincidences upon coincidences that didn't need to be there.  Once I even groaned and thought, "C'mon, you are better than that."  There are also a few points where the story stalls and loses a bit of its intensity.  Many of the secondary characters are not fully developed and feel like they could be anyone.
     Besides these few things, I really like the book.  It is a page turner, and kept me up all night.  I couldn't leave Dan and Abra in danger, so I read it all in one sitting.  It was unique and interesting.  I enjoyed the full circle feel of the two books together.  It was a great tribute to one of his greatest books, and a great tribute to the man who wrote this one sober.

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