Review: The Shining by Stephen King

Monday, March 4, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: The Shining 
Author: Stephen King
Published: January 28, 1977
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: The Shining #1
Genre: Adult Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 683
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”
― Stephen King, The Shining

Synopsis
Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine...(Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Hands down, The Shining has to be one of the most terrifying novels I have ever read. I even had to sleep with my mom one night. A grown woman of 22 reduced to a little girl running to mommy because every single noise in the house, whether it was a cat jumping down from the counter or just the wind, made her jump. And I LOVED every single page! The Shining was amazing and it raised my expectations for every other horror book I will read in the future.

At first, King lulls you into a false sense of security. Danny's nightmares are just nightmares. The Torrance's have yet to move into the Overlook Hotel, and they're hoping life is looking up for them for once. Any warnings of the horrors that have yet to come are seen as superstition or an impossibility. But, slowly, that feeling of mild unease builds and builds into pure gut-wrenching terror...
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Yeah, all of that happens in The Shining. I had to fight the urge to curl into a ball and rock myself. One minute, the Torrance's are one big, happy family trying to move on from a past riddled with bad memories, and the next all hell breaks loose.

In The Shining, Stephen King excels at making simple, everyday objects absolutely horrifying. Like an old fire hose hanging in a hotel hallway. Or hedge animals on a front lawn. I don't think anything has scared me as much as those hedge animals did. Who would have thought that topiary animals would leave me having nightmares? In a King novel, nothing is safe or sacred. Just when you think the character has finally escaped whats chasing him, the bogies come out to play. And what's even more brillant about King's writing is that he doesn't even need ghosts or ghouls half the time. His characters are able to scare themselves without them. Their overactive imaginations, their paranoia, and their phobias make them go batshit crazy.

The Overlook plays just as large a role as Jack, Wendy, and Danny. The setting is so alive that it is an actual character in the book. In The Shining, I felt the claustrophobic confines of the Overlook just as much as the characters did. Despite its endless hallways and massive size, there was an unmistakable feeling of being trapped in the hotel with the characters, and that the hotel just wasn't big enough. Almost like cabin fever. The Overlook affects all of them, playing off of their fears and getting inside of their heads, but it works on Jack the most. Because of his past struggles with alcoholism and his temper, he is the easiest target to latch upon. Yet Wendy and Danny are not unaffected. Wendy's constant worrying had me on edge. She was always worrying about Jack falling off the wagon or Danny's health, both mental and physical. Then there was Danny's physic ability. He was able to see things that other people couldn't see because he had "the shine." That poor kid went through so much and saw way more than any five year old should. By the end of the book, he was an old man in a child's body.

So how did The Shining fare in comparison to the movie version? I have to compare because images from the movie, as shown above, are so firmly lodged in my brain when I imagine how scenes play out. As someone who has watched the movie SO MANY times and before I ever read the book, I do feel some love for Stanley Kubrick's movie. I mean, it's Jack Nicholson. But Stephen King wasn't a huge fan of the movie because it does deviate from the book's plot. I do love the addition of the twins, seeing as they were an eight-year-old and six-year-old in the book and never appeared. But I think the topiary animals and a couple other things could have been added. I'm eager to watch the miniseries, which is supposedly more faithful to the book. If I had to choose, I would say the book is so much better. Not only is it scarier, but there is just so much more backstory and development. Not to mention, I'm not laughing hysterically at Wendy because the actress who played her in the movie was just ridiculous.

Ultimately, The Shining is a palm-sweating, spine-tingling read, and it's not violently horrific like his books usually are so you don't have to worry about gore. I'm so happy I finally read it!




2 comments:

  1. I loved this novel! I think it's one of the best written by King, along with IT (which reduced ME to a little girl running to mommy :-)
    I need to re-read it, though, because I read it a couple of years ago and I forgot the details.
    I agree with you that King doesn't need ghosts (or other paranormal creatures) to make his characters and readers go crazy. For instance, I started reading "Duma Key" (which I still need to finish), and there's just this claustrophobic atmosphere and the feeling that something is not right that can make you run for your life. King's characters are almost always paranoic, and when I read one of his novels, I have difficulties going to bed at night.

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    Replies
    1. Duma Key was fantastic!!! I loved it and I have to agree about the claustrophobic feeling! As for IT, I really need to read that book because I've heard that it's one of his scariest. I've seen the movie and it freaked me out. Clowns and me just don't get along. I'm afraid I would have trouble sleeping too.

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