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  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

11.22.63 - Which is Better, the Book or the TV Adaptation?

This novel by Stephen King was released in 2011 and I bought it straight away. I remember because I think it might have been one of the last books I read before I got ill (crazy stuff) and my world changed forever; a bit like how the world changed forever when JFK was assassinated in Dallas on the 22nd November 1963 - which provides the crux around which this novel revolves, and the contentious question of...


If you could change the past, would you? Should you?

It's a great question, especially from a Sci-Fi, geeky point of view, with endless possibilities that has been explored in many books, short stories, television shows, and movies. You'd think then, that this would be a pretty nervy topic for an author like Stephen King to tackle, given it has been done so well - and indeed not so well - many times over.


Why do it?

Can he bring something new to the game?



And the answer is a resounding yes; for me, 11.22.63 is Stephen King at his best. The writing is wonderful, grim and picturesque as one, and his main characters are ordinary folk, mundane, of no real interest to the world - as was the case with Lee Harvey Oswald, until that fateful day, and that in part is the genius of this book. It's how the little things affect the big - invisible strands that connect and cause and are, if broken, more important than anyone can imagine.


Butterflies; And all that.

I also really enjoyed how the main character, a pretty nondescript English teacher, Jake Epping, who is good at heart, finds that although he can go back in time and affect the future, there is a reset so that he can loop back until he gets it right - or what he perceives to be right. But there is a drawback to the loop. Every time he uses it and stays weeks, months and years in the past, changes events, he ages and changes and that is never undone. Therefore his time is always limited by his own mortality. It's clever, on King's part, and adds an ongoing sense of urgency to Jake's actions and decisions. He needs to get it right. As ever, too, King surprises in that he builds in a really beautiful love story that is wonderfully explored in joyful, horrifying and tragic ways.


Brilliantly done.

If you get a chance, read it.


Now - unusually - the brilliance of the book is echoed in the TV adaptation of the same numbered name - 11.22.63. Produced and starring James Franco, along with a small but stellar supporting cast that includes the likes of Sarah Gadon, George MacKay, Chis Cooper, Daniel Webber, and Josh Duhamel. It's not a new series, it being released in 2016, but I was really ill with the crazy stuff at the time, and I remember it being too much for me to watch and focus on, despite the wonderful cast, staging, sets, dress and music.


But that's okay.

I watched it last week on Prime.

And it's good.

Very good.


Not the same as the book, so one doesn't ruin the other. Indeed, they're quite different in that the book goes into way more depth with regards the aging, and Jake needing more than one attempt (always) to get 'it' right. Indeed, in the adaptation, one of the major characters isn't even in the book, the 'IT' kids don't feature, and the students you come to love and feel for aren't in it. But that's okay. The novel has time and space to explore these minor facets, whereas the immediacy of the television drama needs a much faster pace. Despite this, the TV adaptation doesn't miss out on capturing the joyful, horrifying and tragic themes that answer whether one should - if given the opportunity - ever change the past.


Watch it, read it, and enjoy both for the different that they are.



 

If there's a topic you'd like me to consider in a blog, a book you think I really need to read and review, or a TV Series you think I'd enjoy (and you'd like me to include it in my blog) drop me a line and let me know.



Finally.

If you do buy my books.

Thank you.

And let me know what you think.

Get in touch on Threads.

I'm always there; a writer, you see...


 


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