Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Joyland by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, 2013, 288pp.)
Joyland takes place in 1973 against the backdrop of a haunted amusement park, and chronicles Devon Jones’s experiences working there during college. The story is comprised of several subplots: the legend of the girl murdered on the haunted house ride, Devon’s friendship with a single mother whose young son is dying from muscular dystrophy, Devon’s heartache over a breakup with his first girlfriend, and the bonds of comradery he forms with his fellow carny workers.
Maybe my expectations were set too high because—I don’t know, because King is supposed to be a master writer? In any case, as a Stephen King fan, I was pretty disappointed. While Joyland is more or less passable as a piece of fiction, it lacks the drama, tension, and psychological insight found in many of King’s earlier works. The creep factor is relatively low for a ghost story, and the characters felt underdeveloped and uninteresting. If you haven’t read King’s works before, don’t start here. Try The Shining or ’Salem’s Lot first.