📚 Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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The Shining #2

Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2016

Narrator: Will Patton
Length: 18h 35m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2013

5★ Audiobook⎮ PSA for all those that are unaware that The Shining has a sequel: This is it and it’s better than the original. That’s right. This, a sequel, is better than its predecessor.  It’s rare, but possible. If you’ve read The Shining,  or have even just seen the movie, you need to pick up Doctor Sleep pronto, preferably the audiobook (I’ll explain why later).

I listened to The Shining last year when I first began a tradition of hearing Stephen King audiobooks in October. It was wonderfully narrated by Campbell Scott. After finishing The Shining,  I immediately wanted to start in on Doctor Sleep,  but I made myself wait an entire year to ensure my new founded tradition was carried on. If I had known exactly what awaited me in Doctor Sleep,  I never would have been able to hold out.

I enjoyed Doctor Sleep 100x more than The Shining. Don’t let its 18.5 hour run time discourage you. After all, it’s Stephen King. He knows how to tell a story. Every second of this audiobook is well worth its runtime.

Any fan of King will tell you that one of the most exciting things about his writing is how he ties in certain minor and seemingly inconsequential elements into all of his stories. They are “Easter eggs”, if you will. But perhaps my favorite underrated component of his writing is the role that music plays in several of his stories. It seems like I discover a musical gem each time I pick up a King novel. In 11/22/63 it was a Glenn Miller tune and in Doctor Sleep, a Beatles B-side favorite. It’s little aspects like that make him such a profoundly marvelous writer and make the reader’s experience all the more enjoyable.

Speaking of Easter eggs, thanks to Stephen King, I now see them everywhere. Knowing that he has a penchant for slipping them into his work has even made me see phantom eggs where there are none. Doctor Sleep  was like one huge Easter egg because it was set in the same universe as The Shining. Even though the two are technically a duology,  several decades separate them. The Shining  is Jack Torrance’s story and Doctor Sleep  surrounds Danny, now Dan, Torrance. It was wonderful to be able to contrast the father’s and then the son’s experiences.

At the end of the audiobook, King himself tells the listener that he was semi-inspired to write Doctor Sleep by all of the fans asking about young Danny Torrance from The Shining. How cool is that?!

Although I preferred Doctor Sleep,  I still think it’s worth listening to the duology for full effect. The Shining  is a classic not to be dismissed, but Doctor Sleep  takes you on a much more compelling emotional journey. This has been my best experience with a Stephen King novel, save for 11/22/63.

Narration review: I was already planning on listening to Doctor Sleep  before discovering its narrator was Will Patton. My love for Patton’s narration is well documented and began with hearing The Raven Cycle. I’m so in love with his voice and every part of his narration is always en pointe.

Listening to an audiobook is very much a systemic experience. Opinion of the narration influences that of the writing and vice versa. It’s unavoidable and that’s okay. The two are meant to meld together to create something amazing. And sometimes, when you’re very lucky, those two things come together in a way that parallels a transcendental experience.

For me, it doesn’t get any better than this audiobook. Stephen King, who is basically the Eric Clapton of speculative fiction, and Will Patton, my admittedly favorite narrator, provided me with an unforgettable listening experience. I’ll keep searching, but I highly doubt I’ll find an audiobook this close to my idea of perfection for a long while.

$ Available at Audible/Amazon, Audiobooks.com, Audiobooks Now and The Book Depository

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