The Shining – Stephen King

Posted 26 February, 2013 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 27 Comments

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Title: The Shining
Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Campbell Scott
Published: 1977 Pages: Not as long
Audio Duration: 15 hours; 49 min
Genre: Fiction/Horror
Rating: 3/5

In Short: Is it spoiling the book to tell you that Jack and his wife Wendy and Danny head to the remote Overlook hotel during the off-season and everyone goes just a little bit crazy? As Wendy, the Literary Feline, noted–I wish I did not know what Redrum meant while reading this book.
Why I Read It: Because of Jill and the #ShineOn readalong.
Thoughts in General: I was terrified to read The Shining. I got so worked up about it that some nights I was having dreams about various aspects of the book months before I started to read it. I was tempted to back out of the readalong but I convinced Scott to listen to the book with me and knew that I could stop if it got too scary. However, once I started to read it, the dreams went away and I rarely thought about this book at all. I hate to say that I was disappointed, but I was really disappointed in The Shining. I’ve seen both the Jack Nicholson movie and the TV mini-series with Steven Webber and both scared me in their own ways, but the book? Booooooring.
At the core, The Shining is a psychological thriller which exams the mind coming unhinged as well as special circumstances where the mind is able to see past reality and into the future. It’s difficult to discuss without spoiling some of the major plot points, but while there are ghosts and ghouls in The Shining and things that go thump (or roar) in the night, the scariest parts of the book are those that are clearly mental breakdowns of the characters and the way that these breakdowns seep into reality and make people do horrifying things. A really long sentence for questionable mental capacity can be quite frightening.
The Shining is King’s third novel and after reading several of his books in a short amount of time I can feel some of the greenness in this one–the characters aren’t quite as fleshed out and while the book is suspenseful, the horror isn’t quite as palpable as it was in IT. Perhaps this is a good thing but overall The Shining didn’t feel as epic and grandiose as the others I’ve read. King has a follow-up novel coming out this fall called Doctor Sleep. After reading The Shining I’m of two minds–a) snoooooooze b) 30 years of writing experience might make the follow-up a little more polished. We’ll see.
A Note on the Audio: Like with many other books, I think my chosen medium might have attributed to the downfall of this book in my eyes. I mostly listened to The Shining, narrated by Campbell Scott, and I found the book much more enjoyable when I was actually reading it but the timing just happened to fall when I was in the car a lot. While others swear by Campbell Scott’s narration, I didn’t care for it. I found his inflection drab and too controlled. I can’t help but compare it in my mind with Steven Webber’s narration of IT (which I will always contend is the best audiobook ever), but The Shining simply fell flat. I wanted to hear Jack go crazy–and at times he did–but the creepiest part was when Danny’s friend Tony was calling him: “Dannnnnny.” I have to watch myself when sometimes I’m calling Ellllllllllllle in the same tone. *Shudder*

Now–after I was finished and done with the book someone tweeted a link to the movie preview. Was it you Ti? That minute and a half was so much scarier and intense than the whole of the book.

So–this is me with my scared face on. Which really just looks like a big smile. I had to bribe Scott to take this picture–I told him, “don’t even bother asking; it’s for the blog.”

Thanks to Jill for the good time. Until the #Domealong…  I also wanted to let y’all know that my pal Paxton and I are conspiring something for The Talisman mid-summer. I’ve heard it’s a goodie!

Have you read or seen The Shining? What’d you think?

27 Responses to “The Shining – Stephen King”

  1. Wow. I didn’t think the book was boring at all.

    HOWEVER, I rewatched the movie when I was done reading, and oh my goodness, it sucked. The movie was boring as heck compared to the book. It is just terrible.

  2. Did my mid-month post but not the wrap up. I had the audio book as well and liked it, but my reading was spoiled by knowing the meaning of REDRUM as well. I kept comparing the differences in the movie and the book as I listened, and have to admit, although both have pluses, in the end Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance just gets my vote everytime. The remoteness and creepiness “SHINED” more in the movie IMO:)

  3. I read The Shining eons ago (previous millenium), and I actually liked it a lot. I was relieved to find it not as terrifying as the face of jack Nicholson. I never saw the movie and I never will, because just seeing Nicholson’s crazy face calling through the door makes me run away!

  4. This one scared me way more than it scared you. I wonder if the audio was a big part of that. I read a hardcopy of this one, so I could just blow through it. I don’t know about the sequel though, we’ll see.

  5. I’m surprised at your reaction to The Shining – and curious. The Shining was published when I was in high school and I read it long before the movie came out. I found it terrifying. I’ve been intending to re-read it in preparation for the sequel, but now I’m wondering if time and age will change my opinion of it. Maybe I was scared to death because I was 17 and reading it under the covers at 2:00 a.m.?? And 17-year-old me wouldn’t have noticed the writing style or character development.

    I also wonder if listening to the audio – especially with a narrator you weren’t wild about – made it less frighetning than it would have been in your own head? Thanks for the review – and for making me more anxious to re-read.

  6. Really looking forward to the Talisman. I’m glad to hear you didn’t like the Shining because I have little desire to read it.

    Ever since we’ve talked about it, I’ve become more and more intrigued by Under the Dome…..but I don’t think enough to start the challenge. I’ve got enough to read lately.

    I didn’t know King was writing a sequel to Shining. Interesting.


  7. lol the picture is awesome!
    Sorry this didn’t quite work out. Could this be one of the few times the movie is better than the book?

  8. Kay

    I’ve been interested in hearing what you guys thought about THE SHINING. I read it hard on the heels of SALEM’S LOT when I was in college. And…I didn’t know what REDRUM stood for when I read it. I loved the book. And then THE STAND was published and I loved it even more. I loved IT as well, but those first three, mentioned above, have always been my favorites. When our daughter was little, we went to Colorado several times on vacation. We stayed one year in Estes Park, the place that the hotel King based The Overlook on is located. I drove my husband crazy talking about THE SHINING. LOL

    I haven’t reread any of these in so many years. I’m considering listening to them, as I’ve started doing that with some really, really long books that I read in my younger years. I’ve had good success so far in my listening to the chunksters and I’m thinking that might be the medium to revisit my King faves. I’ll take into consideration your thoughts on the audio of this one and also your thoughts on the audio of IT. :-)

  9. I’ve read The Talisman! The Shining scared the crap out of me, but I read it in high school, so maybe that’s the difference.

  10. I never got The Shining (re)read in February but my memory of reading it (yikes, probably as a teenager) is that it didn’t scare me. And I’ve never seen the movie. I must be one of the few people who havent’ seen it.

    However, I came in to talk about The Talisman. Loved that one! It took me a while to get into it, but then I loved it, especially the little boy. Very cool, unique book. Enjoy!

  11. I personally think the book is better than the Kubrick movie (I haven’t seen the mini-series) if only because I feel that some of the descent into madness is so subtle. And that last scene between Jack and Danny? Not only horrifying but gut-wrenching as well. I like the fact that Jack wasn’t going mad so much as being taken over by the insane ghosts and that one brief spark of cognizance did more to terrorize me than anything Jack Nicholson did in the movie.

    That being said, I agree that the audio was not the greatest at all. I agree with your comments about the narrator; he was too calm throughout most of the novel. I’m glad I read it, and I might be convinced to read the sequel. But first, we have to tackle the #domealong

  12. That picture is hilarious. And what’s funny is that I do that to my husband too. I tell him to take pictures of me and it’s for my blog or goodreads!! HAHAH Speaking of… I am the moderator for the Stephen King Fan group on goodreads and I just adore this book. I can’t wait for Doctor Sleep.. the story of Danny all grown up!


  13. #faceyourfears #dontevenbotheraskingitisfortheblog #booooorrrrrrrriiiiiinng #TriniCapiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnni!!!

  14. Ti

    Yeah, you and I are in agreement on the audio. Zzzzzzz.

    Yes, I am the naughty one who sent the movie trailer. It’s made me want to see the movie again.

    I am probably going to skip Domealong because I read it not too long ago, but Talisman is great as is Tommyknockers (which I was thinking about rereading). I wonder what will be sent out for Domealong. It’s a gruesome book in many ways.

  15. I think I listened to the audio when I read this a few years ago too. Maybe that influenced my decision to not join for a reread! Cute pic :)

  16. I read The Shining well before there was a movie & loved it. I thought the movie was alright. I read that King was severely disappointed with the movie & liked the remake better.

    When they make a King book into a movie, so much of the intangible psychological stuff gets left out or sacrificed for action, that they don’t generally translate well for me. Stand By Me is the only one I truly loved.

  17. I love that picture. It’s funny that you say that you had dreams before you started reading it. I had weird dreams towards the beginning of the book (more based on what I expected to happen rather than what did), but it didn’t even bother me toward the end. Slept just fine. His characters are usually what I love and like you said, they weren’t as fleshed out so I had trouble caring. I am looking forward to Under the Dome. I’ve heard good things about it.

  18. Yup, a total snoozefest. I am really counting on option B for Dr. Sleep. I have much preferred Uncle Stevie’s more recent stuff, so I have Very High Hopes. Which could be dangerous.

  19. I really enjoyed The Shining when I read it as a teenager. It is one of the few books by SK that I really liked, since I’m not generally a fan of him. Actually, I think I’m ok with his early works (like this one) and his more recent works, but not that stuff in the middle. :)

  20. Les

    Wow. I read The Shining when I was in high school (probably sometime around 1979) and it scared the crap out of me. So much so that I had to read it in daylight while sitting on the beach, surrounded by a bunch of tourists. I couldn’t stand to read it at home and never at night. And I could barely stand to watch the movie, which I’m sure I saw in the theater.

    When are you planning to read Under the Dome? I may want to join in on that one. And you still need to add Bag of Bones to your list. It’s one of my favorites right after It, The Stand and Dreamcatcher.

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