Review: (4.75 / 5) An International Bestseller, The Shining was written in 1977 by Stephen King. The novel is King’s third, and was followed in 2013 by the sequel, Dr. Sleep. The idea came from both King’s recovery from alcoholism, and also his stay at the Stanley Hotel, just outside of the Rocky Mountain National Park (Wikipedia).
I knew of King’s story, however I hadn’t read the book, nor had I seen the movie. When the syllabus came out for the RIG, I was excited to see I would finally read the story. Like other books that exceeded my usual 350-page threshold, I admit I was a little put off The Shining was 455-pages. I tend to lose interest when books drag out in the middle part of the story. In the case of The Shining, that was not the case. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. I was immediately locked into the story from out outset all the way through the ending.
The main character in the story is Jack Torrance. Jack is a recovering alcoholic, and was recently relieved of his position as a teacher after an incident with a student. To make ends meet, Jack takes on the job as a caretaker at The Overlook Hotel over the offseason. It is at the hotel that the family finally realizes their son Danny has a gift, referred to as “shine,” that allows him know what people are thinking.
The story ratchets up in Part Three: The Wasp’s Nest, when the family has their first negative experience with the hotel. A nest that should be dead, comes back to life and the wasps attack’s the young boy. Throughout the story, the family experiences countless paranormal activities. Eventually it plays on Jack’s weaknesses—alcoholism and resentment for his wife—leading him to turn on his family. I won’t play the SPOILER, so I’ll spare you from the ending.
While I did enjoy the novel, there were a couple observations I have with the story. The first is the bouncing back-and-forth with how Danny is portrayed. I believe Danny was 5 years old, and at times it was apparent in the dialogue. There were however several other times where the vocabulary was more of someone twice his age. The second observation was with the racial slurs. As a writer, I don’t have an issue with the derogatory references to Halloran. The way King wrote the story, I believe it brings authenticity. On the other hand, it was written nearly forty years ago. In today’s society, focused so much around inclusion, I am not sure it would be well received. In my novel, I have an antagonist who fought in the gulf war and has great disdain for his enemy. I use the word “rag head” in a conversation he has with a peer, and in the feedback I received from my mentor, she recommended I exercise caution with the reference because it can be offensive. So does this mean that writers need to concern themselves with political correctness?
Wikipedia contributors. “The Shining.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Jul. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2016