Review: The Shining

The Shining
The Shining by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I felt the compulsory need to revisit the Shining before its sequel came chopping its way through my door. Memorable movie moments were missing from the book and vice-versa. Having armed myself only with a previous movie viewing, the book remained fresh; moments I were expecting never appeared and moments I did not expect scared the sh*t out of me.

The differences between movie and book were surprising. Gone were the twins, the bloody elevator, and even the ax. In came the wasps, the topiaries, and the explosion! I felt the focus on Danny’s shining was more prevalent in the book, which I believe sets up the book’s sequel quite well.

I’ve never read King’s earlier works; having read his three most current books, the improvement of his writing clearly shows in comparison to this book, three decades of age. Even advice that he offered in his own memoir on the craft is often ignored. There are adverbs aplenty and descriptive elements that cease the plot. The most glaring example of plot-halt came in the climax; just when all hell began to break loose, we were taken back to a re-explanation of something that happened two hundred pages prior. Thankfully, King has been daily practicing his craft since The Shining’s original release. I have high hopes for the sequel that it will have crisp writing and a sharp plot.

Despite the yellowed pages the Shining remains quite healthy. Sure, there are elements no longer found in King’s writing; gone are the days of paragraph splitting parentheticals and adverb filled expositions. I’m still unsure where on the King timeline his garrulous use of pages hits—it seems random. Even in his modern writing, Joyland came in trim and fit, while Under the Dome weighed in bloated, 200 pages overweight. The Shining remains a strong contender despite showing about one hundred pages of saggy, over-winded narrative.

What preserves a favorable rating is the high-tension closing act. Everything wrapped together and exploded—literally—with me quickly turning the pages to consume more. I’m confident that King is one of the few writers able to pull this off with such effectiveness. Bravo to Sai King for creating such an excellent story and for whetting my appetite for more.

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