What’s it all about?:
College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.
A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old—and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time—JOYLAND is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, JOYLAND is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.
What did I think?:
As mentioned previously (quite a lot) on this blog, I am a confessed big Stephen King fan, but I try to give impartial honest reviews on everything I read so here goes… To begin with, if I didn’t know this was a Stephen King book, I would think this book had been written by a different author. Sure, it has echoes of King, and a few classic King moments, but I wonder if he is trying something new? I’m not certain if it’s because it reads more like a murder-mystery novel than the usual supernatural offering we might usually expect from him. It’s the story of a young man called Devin Jones who takes a summer job at a theme park called Joyland (the “anti-” Disney, you might say). He is struggling to recover after the first love of his life has royally stomped all over his heart, and after making a couple of friends and a few drunken bonfires on the beach, he slowly begins to feel better.
What also keeps Devin’s mind occupied during this time is trying to solve the murder of a young woman who has her throat cut during the darkest part of the House of Horrors fairground ride. Although this happened fairly recently, her murderer has never been caught, and after one of Devin’s friends sees her ghost, Devin becomes determined to help her tortured soul. Once Devin decides to work full-time at Joyland, he manages to develop a bit of a name for himself, (no spoilers here!) and meets a young boy in a wheelchair and his mother. Both of them become very important to him, for different reasons… and he becomes desperate to give the dying young boy a full and happy life while he still has a chance.
Even though I claim that this doesn’t read like a classic King, he hasn’t lost any ability that he possesses to tug on your old heart-strings. Some parts are so beautiful and heart-warming, I was reminded of his recent novel, Lisey’s Story which I also found incredibly moving. What gives this story its strength is that it performs so many functions – it gives you a bit of mystery, a bit of a scare, a bit of sentiment, and even a bit of romance. And of course, the standard King humour is always there, just to avoid things getting a bit TOO serious. I have to say, I really enjoyed this, and, as always, look forward to the next novel. (Dr Sleep, follow up to The Shining, out this Autumn/Fall!!) Told you I was a fan.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):