16 June 2014

Joyland by Stephen King - A Carnival Itself

I just finished Joyland, by Stephen King. It is a Hard Case Crime book and a very different feel for a King novel, at least it was for me. Maybe he's getting older and this is the first one of his books I've read since Gerald's Game, published over twenty two years ago. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it tremendously, I did. It was just different.

The story's narrator is an old man, reminiscing about his years as a newbie carny worker at an amusement park known as, none other than, you guessed it...Joyland! It is a place filled with lots of movement, visuals, smells, sounds and it's a reminder to me how King manages to keep one in the story. With a carny killer on the loose, a story unfolds revealing lost love, binding friendships, and a summer to remember.

This novel was a page turner for me. Not from the standpoint of a King fan, but as a reader who doesn't have much time to find herself engrossed in a lengthy story. I've picked up books which are fast paced and never finished them because work, family, and other things tend to come up, whisking me away from my chosen novel.

This was not a fast paced read, but a thorough exploration of a carnival and its intricate involvement in bringing plot points together while the more intimate story unfolded. There are several reasons why Joyland kept me engrossed.

  1. The reader stays in the setting, never (for a lengthy period of time) being removed from the fictitious world that is Joyland.
  2. Who cannot relate to carnivals? Funnel cakes, cotton candy, rides, games, and the pretty girl walking away with the giant stuffed animal you could never figure out how to win for yourself. It's all there!
  3. Young love and all those things that go with it: the silly, the embarrassing, and the unforgiving. King never forgets to bring us back to these events through his characters, and very well-developed they are.
  4. The crimes never detracted from the story. They were the underlying pieces which kept me motivated to move forward, but the characters and the setting are what kept me in place, wanting to read more, never chancing to dog-ear a page unless I absolutely had to.
  5. The world is filled with a new language, clearly translated as carny talk. You'll find a new appreciation for all things carny the next time the annual fair comes to your town!

I have a renewed interest in reading again, thanks to King's Joyland. Try it out and let me know your thoughts. If you've read it already, do you agree or disagree with these key points? If you haven't read it yet, what was your favorite King novel thus far?

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