Limebird Book Club: Review of Joyland by Stephen King

by limebirdlaura

I was talking to my mom the other day about all the books I read as a kid. She claims she still has hundreds of mine in storage somewhere, mostly R.L. Stine books, which in a way defined my childhood more than anything else. I remember the glee of having a brand new Fear Street to pour over. There was also this book about a kid who turned everything he touched into chocolate that I wore out. Of course there was Narnia. All of these things written for children.

It’s no secret to those near and dear to me that I am head over heels in love with horror, though.  I think my first full sentence was probably, “Momma, more zombies please.” As a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s, my formative years were full of He-Man, She-Ra, and Pet Semetary with good heaping side of Pennywise the Clown. I don’t know where this fascination with horror came from. As it turns out I’m bloody well terrified of my own shadow. There’s just something about it. I remember watching It on TV, I remember going to the theater to see Nightmare on Elm Street. I remember pilfering through my grandparent’s very impressive collection of Stephen King books to read what I wasn’t supposed to read when I was about 11 years old.

The point being, and I do have one, is that I’ve been a Stephen King fan longer than my 22-year-old sister has been alive.

A couple of months ago he released the crime novel Joyland. I may not quite live in Brokesville, but I’m definitely next door. Suffice it to say I don’t usually grab novels off the shelf when they’re brand spanking new because they tend to come with a price tag that leaves me squeamish. So you can guess my elation when I was browsing around the library a few days ago, not really on the hunt for anything in particular, when I saw Joyland hanging out on a shelf just waiting for me to come by and see it.

Being a new release, the library loan is only two weeks, down from the standard four. That was just fine with me, once I started reading I wasn’t about to try to take my time! At under 300 pages, it wasn’t a particularly long read at any rate. At its heart, it’s a coming of age tale about a young man working the summer at the Joyland amusement park, pining after his first love. Interwoven into that is a ghost story and a murder mystery….and a little carny lingo for some extra flavor! The book has a “whodunit” theme running throughout, and I spent the second half of the story certain I knew who it was – boy was I wrong!

I give Joyland two lime green thumbs way up! It has equal parts ghost story, crime, mystery, and fun. A definite read for fans and non-fans of Stephen King alike.

Has anyone already read Joyland? What are your thoughts? Does anyone have any favorite crime novels to recommend?

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23 Comments to “Limebird Book Club: Review of Joyland by Stephen King”

  1. NewStephenKingbook?? Gotta read it, it’s like breathing. You have to do it.

  2. How funny you reviewed this! I just reviewed his book Rose Madder. I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for this book, it sounds like it will be quite the read!

  3. I haven’t read anything by Stephen King except for his book on writing. Would this be a good one to start with?

    • I love On Writing!! This isn’t one of his typical “horror” novels per se so I would say it would be good if you’re not a big fan of horror but want to read some Stephen King…or if you are a fan of horror it’s still an excellent book. My favorite of his is The Stand, but it’s monstrously huge!

  4. Joyland? I just purchased Doctor Sleep today in a second-hand bookstore.
    Is King publishing a new book every week now. Kidding. 😉 You recommendation will have me on the lookout for Joyland.

  5. Will add that to my list. I’ve been meaning to read more by Stephen King, but because he’s so prolific I don’t know where to start. Everyone seems to love the Stand, and so I thought it was going to be super amazing and I was slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, just not as awesome as I had been expecting given how everyone raves about it. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to giving this one a try. Any recommends other than the stand for a King newbie?

    • You’re right there’s just so much if it! What I love is that there’s a little of everything when it comes to his work. The Stand is one of my favorites. The Shining is amazing – classic King and not as large like It or The Stand. I loved The Tommyknockers for a sort of sci-fi-horror, one of my absolute FAVORITES is Eye of the Dragon which is a fantasy that I don’t hear people talking about much – and I don’t know why! The Long Walk is excellent, it’s a dystopian originally penned under his pen name Richard Bachman. The Running Man is another Bachman book I really liked – it’s another dystopian future. Honestly I haven’t met a Stephen King book I haven’t loved!

  6. While I love “On Writing,” I’ve never been a horror fan, so Carrie was the only other King book I’ve ever read. Somehow, I doubt his bank account misses those sales. 🙂

  7. Great review. I haven’t read this book. I don’t read tons of crime novels, my closest recommendations would be Harlan Coben’s Caught and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects.

    • Thank you! I’ve not read those but I’ve always wanted to read a Harlan Coben book. I don’t read a whole lot of crime novels but sometimes they can be really interesting.

  8. I haven’t read much Stephen King – I can’t remember if I’ve asked you this before, but have you read his book Cell? I read it about 18 months ago and loved it all the way until the end, but then found the ending wholly disappointing. I’ve heard others talk about his endings being disappointing in a lot of books and I can’t help wondering if that’s a sign of him being a pantser. I like to get to the end of a book and find answers about why everything happened, well not EVERYTHING has to be explained, but I want to generally have some kind of resolution or comprehension of why what happened, happened, and Cell didn’t begin to do that for me (but others were perfectly happy with the ending). I’m not really a horror fan in general but the description of Cell intrigued me so I went for it.

    • I did read the Cell….well technically I listened to the audio book which I used to do when I worked at a data entry place. Anyway to be honest I really don’t remember the end! I DO remember feeling let down by the whole thing but thinking that it probably would make a really good movie because it all seemed so visual.

      He may be a pantser but I’ve not found myself let down by his endings that I can think of. My husband is a big King fan as well and I just asked him if he was ever upset with any of his endings and his reply was, “Oh gosh yes!”…maybe I have been unhappy with his endings and never knew! lol

  9. I love Elmore Leonard’s work (I wish I could write dialogue like that – it’s no coincidence that so many of his books have become films). I also read pretty much anything by Carl Hiaasen, so that gives you a good picture of the sort of crime novel I like – fast-paced, snappy dialogue, multiple twists!

    • I haven’t read a Leonard but it’s been on my to-do list for so long…. I think I’ll write myself a note and place it in my library sack so I’ll remember next time I’m there.

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