Doctor Sleep, for those who don’t know, is Stephen King’s many-years-later sequel to The Shining. If you read my last post, you’ll see I was a bit hesitant in the beginning of the book. Maybe because The Shining wasn’t my favorite King, and maybe because torturing children is definitely not my thing. BUT… I have to revise that opinion completely. Once this book got going, I couldn’t put it down, so it was fortunate for me that I had a long plane ride and just enough jet lag to keep me up at night. I finished the book in just a few days but I’ll keep my comments in this post to just chapters 7-13.
Note: because this is a read-along there are some SPOILERS in this post. If you haven’t started, I highly recommend bypassing this post and reading the book.
The “Sleep Along” poses the following questions for chapters 7-13:
In Part One, we get to know Abra mostly through her parents or other adults. In Part Two, we get to know her much better. What do you think of this extraordinary girl?
I loved Abra’s character. She’s got this horrible burden of knowing about terrible things, like her great-grandmother’s illness, and she’s incredibly brave. She knows what happened to the boy in Iowa but she forces herself to look closer and get more information, which must have been incredibly hard. She should be numb to people’s suffering by now but she isn’t.
I also think she’s a great combination of childish and mature. She’s mature because she knows things a young girl shouldn’t know – but she’s also immature in ways that felt realistic to me. After all, 13 is a very in-between age. I love the scene where she’s imagining herself as Daenerys riding around with a sword. (King is always great at cross-referencing other pop culture of the time.) She’s powerful but doesn’t have the maturity to manage that power. I found myself thinking about Charlie in Firestarter, which I haven’t read in a very, very long time, but it was one of my favorite King novels. Charlie is younger, but this book reminds me a lot of that one, in that people want to use and manipulate Abra for her power, and as a child she’s susceptible to that.
I like that she’s smart, and she loves her family, but she isn’t perfect. Like any child, she loses her temper sometimes.
Do you have any speculations on what the True Knot are? We know how they sustain themselves, and we’ve seen the way they die. They’re not, as Abra calls them, “ghostie people,” but they aren’t really human either.
I’m not sure the True Knot are anything we’ve seen before, although they are close to vampires in that (1) they get “Turned” into what they are; (2) they are nearly immortal; and (3) they feed off of mortals. One character says “they are the empty devils… They eat screams and drink pain.”
Despite that description, I still don’t think these are the creepiest villains I’ve seen, but that’s okay with me. I like that King shows us their powers and weaknesses, so you know that when Dan and Abra go up against them, it will be quite a showdown. In some of his books, like It, King makes his evil villains too powerful. Here, he’s created a believable battle of wills between Abra and her friends and Rose and the True Knot. Also, it’s interesting to see that while Rose and her friends are evil, they still care about each other. At times I almost found them sympathetic.
Considering that Chapter Thirteen is one of the most intense in the book so far, did anyone actually stop reading here? Or could you not wait to race on ahead?
Honestly, I nearly stopped reading after Chapter 5, the chapter about Bradley Trevor. Chapters 7 to 13 had me completely hooked, and once I finished Chapter 13 you couldn’t have pried the book (or Kindle) out of my hands. I definitely fall into the “racing ahead” category. I loved how King paced this part of the book. I really like how he gives you just enough hints that something’s gone wrong, without giving too much away. I was on edge and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Forget what I said last week about violence, this part of the book is much more psychological than gory. I loved the idea of these characters battling it out in each other’s heads.
If you’re reading the book, what do you think? Remember to check out the links at the beginning of this post for other thoughts on this book.