The Shining by Stephen King


[Edit: Originally published June  2, 2016]

I saw The Shining (the movie) ages ago. But from what I do remember is that there is so much detail that is lost in translation from book to screen. Even more so than with Pet Sematary (which I have also both read and seen). 

More surprised me about the book than I thought it would, given that I’d seen the movie. The backstory that you get in the book sets up Jack’s downfall perfectly in a way that I don’t remember getting from the movie. I also found that I understood just what “the shining” was a bit better from the book.

Some notable differences from the movie:

  • Jack doesn’t go after his wife with an ax. It’s a roque mallet instead.
  • Hallorann doesn’t die.
  • The animal shaped hedges coming to life does not happen in the movie. (The movie has the hedge maze instead).

There are other differences but these are the big ones that stuck out to me. If you enjoyed the movie I would highly recommend the book, not because I’m saying the book is better, but I think reading the book will add another layer of appreciation to the story if you’ve only seen the movie.

Enough about movie comparisons though, the book itself it excellently written. It takes a while to get through, but it reads smoothly. There’s a reason that Stephen King is the prolific author he is. The stories he creates are timeless for the most part. Though I will admit there were some references that went over my head, I didn’t feel like there was anything lost by not getting those references. 

Steven King’s writing is chock full of details. Little details that you might not consider even describing they’re so small. There were a couple of occasions when I questioned why a particular detail was included but for the most part I really loved all the minutely detailed attention that things were given. It was very easy to paint a portrait in my head of what was going on. 

There were a few issues I took with the book despite my overall enjoyment. There was a thread of homophobia in the book that made me rather uncomfortable. Homosexuality is brought up several times, never in a positive light. The first time it comes up is general “the homosexuals are the reason the world’s going to shit” kind of sentiment and then later a “homosexual encounter” is cited as one of the reasons why one of the characters Jack had in a story was a child molester. 

Which is my next warning, there is a segment in chapter 32, where Jack describes this character from one of his short stories who is a child molester. It does talk about some of the things he’s done, so if you don’t want to read that I would skip the first two or so pages of chapter 32. 

You can get the book here.