Doctor Sleep Readalong Wrapup

sleepalongThis is the final post in the Doctor Sleep readalong hosted by Tif Talks Books and Cheap Thrills.

As I mentioned in my last post, I started out a little hesitant about this book, and then by Chapter 7 I couldn’t put it down.  I loved it and would recommend it to anyone who likes Stephen King.

The “Sleep Along” poses the following questions for chapters 14 through the end.  I’ve kept out major spoilers but read with caution:

Before we started reading, we asked if you had any expectations for Doctor Sleep.  Did you get what you were hoping for out of the book?

Yes!  In fairness, I didn’t have a lot of expectations, but the reviews were very good and I’d been disappointed by a lot of recent King novels (like Under the Dome).  So what I was hoping for was a fun, scary read, a roller coaster ride, something entertaining but that lives up to King’s storytelling abilities.  I got all of that, plus a book that really recalled what I love about King’s older novels.

Having finished the book, do you think having read The Shining is important for enjoying this one?

I don’t think so, but then I haven’t read The Shining in a long time.  I think this book works as a stand-alone but maybe it would be even better if I’d re-read The Shining first.

In one word, one phrase, one sentence … describe Doctor Sleep.

Ummm…  I had to  think about this one.  First I was going to say it’s about having the strength to use whatever gifts you have, but that sounds a little corny to me, in a “with great power comes great responsibility” kind of way.  I’d say the heart of the book is the personal connection that Dan creates with Abra, and about him taking responsibility for someone, which he hasn’t done in a long time.  Danny spends his life floating around, not getting close to anyone, and having the responsibility of protecting Abra terrifies him.  His worst memory is when he failed to help a mother and her child, and now he’s afraid he won’t be there for this girl who needs him.  But clearly, it’s time for him to step up.

Anything else you feel like discussing about the end of the book?  Or, about the book as a whole?

This was just a great read, from start to finish.  Even though I had some doubts at first, I loved the story of people battling each other with the power of their minds.  A lot of books aren’t paced well, but this book was perfect, I just didn’t want to put it down. Endings are King’s weakness but this one worked for me.

I really liked the idea of the True Knot’s desperation to hang together and stay alive – I found them oddly sympathetic even though they live on torture and death, which isn’t so nice.  I also liked that this book was sort of a web of connections, from Danny’s childhood in Colorado to this small town community, and that our “demons” follow us wherever we go.

I liked how Danny spends his life trying to use his power to help people in a very quiet way.  Even if he seems to relate best to the dying, that’s a very cool way to help people.  I loved the cat storyline.  I also liked how Abra was this very likeable mix of power, emotion, and teenage girl-ness.

As for the RV thing, while not as creepy as some King concepts (clowns anyone?) – I have to admit that when I see an RV on the road now, I think twice about who’s in there.  One of my favorite things about Stephen King is that he makes every day things so scary.

Do you have any final thoughts about Doctor Sleep?  How about Stephen King in general?

I’ve always thought King’s best books aren’t really “horror” so much as psychological thrillers: The Stand, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, Carrie.   It’s always real life, and real people, that are the scariest.

I’m really interested in the idea of working through childhood horrors through books like these.  Why are so many of his memorable characters children, and why did so many of us connect with Stephen King’s books as children, even though his books are clearly not written for kids (or maybe that’s a lot of the appeal).  I think, like Harry Potter and other classic children’s horror, children process difficult concepts through horror and fantasy in ways we don’t quite understand.  Why do we like being scared so much?  Is it the idea of people braving much more horrible things than we see in real life, and coming out of it okay?  Or the comfort of thinking that the really bad stuff isn’t real?  Or is it the wondering whether we’d be brave and stand up to evil if we ever had to?

One of the things that struck me in this book is the contrast between the innocence of children (Danny and Abra) and the knowledge/experience of horrific things, and how lucky we are to go through our lives not knowing about most things.  How hard would it be to know about all the horrors in people’s lives?

It’s interesting that Abra has the same burden as Dan, but she has a loving family and none of the horrors of Dan’s childhood.  Dan has to deal not only with his childhood trauma, and his abilities, but also a very real problem, alcoholism.  I didn’t realize King had so many problems with addiction, and it was really interesting to read about how those experiences resulted in this book.

While I couldn’t necessarily relate to Dan’s problems with alcohol, his character felt very real to me, probably because King is writing about some of his own struggles.  I really appreciated that he brought that experience to this book.

3 Comments on “Doctor Sleep Readalong Wrapup

  1. It was definitely interesting to read some of his articles and interviews and learn just how much of his own experiences with alcohol he wrote into Dan’s.

  2. Yes, thanks for linking to the Guardian article! Very interesting! I agree with your thoughts on Doctor Sleep and on Stephen King’s novels in general. I haven’t read a lot of the early ones, so I came to him later with his book on writing and Lisey’s Story on audio (so good!). I think I was too snobby to read him as a teen, although I did read The Exorcist when I was much too young for it! I’ve tried more standard horror as an adult reader and haven’t thought much of it, so I agree with you that it’s psychological fiction rather than generic horror that Stephen King and son Joe Hill write!

  3. Great answers!!!! Thank you so much for joining in the read-along with us!

    I love how you talked about the reason behind horror. Why do we read it? I am drawn to it again and again, I’ve even attempted to write the why. I like that King explores it, dives into the real life creepy that many won’t or don’t know how. A hundred years from now, that will be why he will be remembered. Oh, and that is also can write a bit too! 🙂

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