The Shining

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Shining 

by Stephen King 

After losing his job and struggling with his alcoholism, Jack Torrance decides to take a job as an off-season caretaker at a huge resort hotel in Colorado. He wants time to rebuild his relationship with his wife and young son and to work on the play he is writing. His son Danny has an odd psychic gift that worries his parents. When they move into the Overlook hotel the power becomes much stronger and they quickly realize something is dreadfully wrong.
The reason this book is so timelessly scary is because it’s more about one person losing their grasp on reality than it is about the haunted hotel. It shows what addiction can do to a person’s psyche. Obviously there is a big dose of the supernatural thrown in for fun, but it wouldn’t be as scary if Jack wasn’t second-guessing what he saw because he didn’t trust his own mind. The book became particularly well-known because of the loosely adapted 1970s film version and it really put King on the map as a respected author. I can’t believe this was only his third book!


The scariest parts of the book aren’t the moments when we see a ghost, though those are terrifying, they are the moments when Jack begins to justify his evil actions. We watch as he becomes obsessed with the hotel and self-destructive in his own life. The thought of what one man is capable of doing to his family is more than disturbing. It takes on a particularly dark twist when you remember that the author struggled with his own alcoholism around the same time.

There is a scene in The Playground (chapter 23) where we get the first inking that things are seriously amiss. Jack is trimming the topiary animals and believes they are creeping towards him. It is absolutely terrifying, especially because we don’t know if it’s actually happening or if Jack is losing his mind and imagining it.

The first time we really see the dark changes in Jack is when Danny sneaks into Room 217. He is beyond terrified by what happens to him, but Jack eventually convinces himself that Danny deserved what he got because he had been trespassing.

“If the boy had gotten a scare, wasn’t that at least his just desserts?”

That’s the moment when we realize Jack cares more about the hotel than his own son’s safety. He begins to feel connected to the hotel and we realize that he’s loosing control of the situation.

“Nothing in the Overlook frightened him. He felt that he and it were simpatico.”

In the end of the book, when Dick Hallorann is rescuing them, there’s a scene in the wood shed that I think is so crucial. It was really important to see that Dick was tempted to do the same thing Jack had been attempting to do. It showed us that it wasn't just Jack being susceptible to the hotel’s power because he was weak and had too much self-doubt. It made the reader understand just how powerful the hotel was and that it wasn’t just Jack’s fault. He truly did love his son.


BOTTOM LINE: It scared me a lot, and I think that’s the point. I didn’t love it in the same way I loved The Stand, because I didn’t feel as connected to the characters, except Dick Hallorann, he was fantastic. I think this is a great book to read when you’re in the mood to be scared silly.

“Tough old world, baby. It you’re not bolted together tightly, you’re gonna shake, rattle and roll before you turn thirty.”

**I had so much fun reading this along with my fellow #shineon ladies. Thank you for hosting Jill and getting us all awesome sunglasses to protect our eyes from the bright shining!

Other Shineon reviews: (let me know if I missed your’s!)

Between the Covers

Care's Online Book Club
You Gotta Read This!
Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity

Fizzy Thoughts
Book Journey

*Photos of me and Ollie


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Jack does get to be one scary dude :)

Still have a bit more to go, but should be done by Wednesday with the audio.

Sandy Nawrot said...

You are absolutely right I think. This isn't a straight-forward scare fest, it is more subtle. Which I think is the genius in the book. The topiary scenes are totally creepy, as well as the fire hose scene with Danny. And just the presence of that room is terrifying, even though King is very vague about it. I think the biggest issue I had is the MAJOR differences between the book and movie that I've seen a million times. It was hard for me to separate the two.

jmisgro said...

I should reread this one...I read it when it was new in paperback a million years ago!! I wonder if i would feel the same way you did!! And The Stand is my fav too. Also liked Salem's Lot a lot.

Enbrethiliel said...


I know someone who read this book for the third time a few months ago and was still scared silly! The Shining always comes with the highest recommendations. =)

Selah said...

Excellent scary book! The TV miniseries with Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay (teleplay actually written by Stephen King!) is much more faithful to the book than the 1980 film. I really enjoyed it as an accompaniment to the book.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - Keep it up! I felt the the second half went much faster than the first.

Sandy - I've had that happen with other books/movies. I do think you're right about this one being particularly good because it's not just a scare fest.

Enbrethiliel - I don't know if I would re-read it or not, but it definitely scared me!

Selah - I completely agree. The movie doesn't match up at all, but the miniseries is really close to the same story.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I still need to write up my review but this one didn't frighten me the way that IT did. I think because IT is everything that is scary to an individual--it plays on personal fears rather than crazy man in the next room. I agree, though--hearing Jack come unhinged was pretty scary.

I really loved Dick, too. Now--I did watch the trailer after I finished the book and THAT scared me! More intense, though...

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - I have a pretty low tolerance for what scares me. That's why I did do the IT readalong. I may try that one later when I'm feeling braver.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

As I'm sure you're tired of hearing...make sure you listen on audio! So good. ;)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - I will! I love finding a good audiobook.

Anonymous said...

If you're ever in Estes Park, CO (just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park) check out the Stanley Hotel, which is where the interior shots for mini-series version were filmed. They had some memorabilia from the filming, etc. on display when I was there in 2004.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

bibliophilica - I've actually seen it, but I've never gone in. I'll have to check out the memorabilia next time I'm in the area!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I had a goof time with this one as well. Finally put my post up today.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sheila - It was definitely more fun as a readalong!

Kristi said...

This one didn't work as well for me as the other books of his we've read. I think if Jack had been initially sympathetic it might have been different when he eventually lost it. I might have cared more.

I loved Dick Hallorann too. King should write a book about him.

I think part of my problem is that this week (right before I finished) I listened to Tana French's latest book, which was kind of a psychological thriller too. A little too similar and French's writing and plotting was far superior (compared to The Shining in particular) so it suffered by comparison.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - I had the exact same problem with a Tana French book! I read The Secret History at the same time as The Likeness and the French novel was so much better. The comparison made The Secret History seem worse than it probably was.

A Dick Hallorann book would be good! Maybe dealing with his early years or something when he found out he had the shining.