The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family. My girlfriend was very shocked that I had never read The Shining, and got it for Christmas. I was something not on my list really, because I had watched the Kubrick film so many times and thought I knew the story. I still really enjoyed it. The movie changes quite a bit, there are no creepy twins!! No axe, but a mallet, no maze, but animals made of bushes, we never get to see what Jack is writing, but know he is writing a history of the hotel, and we get a lot more of Dick Halloran the cook at the hotel with the shine. I have seen the Mini-series starring Steven Webber which is a lot more accurate to the source material, nails the ending. As a fan of Stephen Kings works I felt this was one of the better beginnings to one of his stories, I was hooked pretty instantly.
The Plot: Jack Torrance has been sober for 13 months, after close call involving drunk driving, and the almost loss of his family. Jack recently lost his job as a private school teacher, as he lost it on a student. Jack is hurting for work and still dealing with the struggles of addiction. When and old drink buddy that is also sober now, has an opportunity for Jack, care-taking for the Overlook Hotel, a Colorado hotel that needs a care-taker for the winter months of no operation. Jack sees this as the perfect job he can work on a play get paid and be away from his alcohol addiction for months. Jack takes his son and wife, Danny and Wendy, with him. Danny has an ability to read thoughts, and see the future called “the shine”. He has been getting warned that this trip will have dangers. Danny meets a cook with the shine ability that warns him as well about strange occurrences. Jack ends up becoming obsessed when he learns of the hotel’s killer past. Jack and Danny are both haunted as the hotel decides it wants to make them permanent residents.
What I Liked: The history of the Overlook hotel was really interesting. The reveal of what REDRUM means was a good one, it memorable from the film but the book did it nicely. The final 150 pages of this book are full of excitement. The main monster in the book was alcohol addiction. I loved the rational for Jack sabotaging the things to get help, was he knew if he was unemployed that he was going to give into to drinking, so the ghost was the safer bet in his mind. I liked “the shine” and how we got to see a couple people have it. I liked that the ghost used racism against Dick, but not any of the people. I love the way Mr. Ullman was described, I would have liked to see his reaction to the ending, because of the way he was connected to the hotel. I thought the stop drinking story was powerful and haunting. King books usually have way too much detail about a lot of things that do not matter, but I felt this was good example of most of the details having a purpose.
What I Disliked: The small subplot where Jack bragged about writing the expose on the Overlook Hotel to Ullman and Al. That plot was dropped towards the end. The point was to show manipulation of the mind, but I felt another way would have been better.
Recommendations: I had a lot of fun with The Shining. The writing is really good. The scares and the descriptions will give you chills. I had a lot of fun finding the differences from the film and the book. For a pop culture reference The Shining is the book that Rachael put in the freezer on Friends, and Joey put Little Women, which I actually did read this year coincidentally. The Shining out of the 30 some Stephen King Books that I have read would easily put it in the Top 10 maybe top 5. I rated The Shining by Stephen King 5 out of 5 stars.