they say that you should never judge a book by its cover. although i wholeheartedly agree with this saying, i have always found myself doing just that. joyland by stephen king was another one of my victims.
how wrong i was.
joyland is the sequel to the colorado kid in the hard case crime series. having read that book but not enjoying it, my expectations were low when i heard that joyland was set to be released in the spring of 2013. however, based on the sole fact that it was stephen king, i was not going to pass up on it.
in my mind, king used joyland to fix what did not work with the colorado kid. instead of two old men recounting a local news story that involved a murder during the 1980s to their young and eager intern, king used a middle-aged man as the narrator who experienced the unbelievable events at joyland firsthand. joyland immersed the reader in the story and in the past more so than the colorado kid that stayed mostly in the present day. as a whodunnit novel, joyland was more successful hands down.
the novel started out strong, with classic king humor waved into the lines of the pages. both *g* and i burst out laughing when we read:
“what i know now is that gallant young men rarely get pussy. put it on a sampler and hang it in your kitchen”.
“when you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. it’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. by the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”
it also had many ‘king’s sayings for life’ as i like to think of them as. a line that is written in one of his novels that can only be said by an author who has lived life, learned these lessons, and cannot help but pass his infinite wisdom on to his readers.
“when it come to the past, everyone writes fiction.”
however, that is where its success stopped. like the colorado kid, i found that i was not able to relate to any of the characters. i also thought that the novel started out strong, and had an excellent ghostly tale behind it, but was brought down by the sappy love stories and heroic gestures that became the main focus of the book. overall, joyland felt more like a work of christian fiction than horror fiction.
inevitably, the only aspect i really enjoyed about joyland was the cover image.
if you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, maybe publishing companies should stop putting such great art on their novels.