Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

I started writing a review for the Shining, but then I remembered I already compared the book and the film. Writing a book review at this point would be silly considering how much ground I’ve already covered. Instead, I’ve decided to review Doctor Sleep, the 531-page sequel to Stephen King’s horror classic.

Doctor Sleep follows the son of Jack Torrance, Danny, as a grown man. Those familiar with the Shining will remember Danny as the little boy with great psychic power. As an adult, Danny doesn’t use his power much. In fact, he doesn’t do much at all except follow in the footsteps of his father. By that, I mean he’s a deeply troubled alcoholic and a drifter who can’t hold down a job. This continues until Danny finds a reason to use his ‘Shining’ again, in the form of an exceptionally powerful girl with dangerous enemies. The novel explores predators, substance abuse, and psychic battles.

Up front, I’m going to say that Doctor Sleep isn’t nearly as scary as the Shining was. There are scary parts, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not in the same echelon of horror that it’s origin story achieved.

There’s a lot of plotting, planning, running, and escaping. Danny is a very likable character, although deeply flawed, just like his father. I was rooting for Danny to survive and succeed. Though unlike his father, Danny manages to combat his demons rather than getting consumed by them.

This book delves deeper into the concept of the ‘shining’ or people who ‘shine.’ Turns out there are lots of them, which is implied in the Shining, by the presence of not only Danny but Dick Halloran as well. The ‘shining’ powers are very cool and the way King explores them kept me very interested to find out what was possible.

The antagonists are so interesting in this book. Almost all of the main characters have the gift of the ‘shining’ so it’s really cool to see the bad guys with the same power. They have strong justifications for what they do, and the bad guys are well-rounded characters.

Overall, I thought Doctor Sleep was a great read. It’s an interesting horror novel that brings in elements of action, intrigue, and strong character writing. If you’re familiar with the Shining and ever wondered what happened to the boy who shone, this is a great book to check out.

Turns out they’re adapting this book into a film which is slated for a 2020 release.

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