Movie vs Book: The Shining and Review of Doctor Sleep
Welcome back all you Great Geek Refugees! It's been a while since we've had anything to give ya, but trust me, it's not because of a lack of desire. Steve Rogers recently moved back to his hometown and just got a new job! Hooray for Steve! Andy has been working hard at his day job and he's working on his own comic book. Good for Andy! Frank Landau is helping his wife take care of her 81 year old uncle who has dementia, a recently broken hip, and congestive heart failure. If you like changing diapers on an old man who doesn't remember your name and you enjoy trying to convince him the house isn't full of bees and frightening little children with no faces, then boy does Frank have a job for you! As for yours truly...ya know...stuff...things...don't judge me!!!
I've been reading a lot. I'm on a Stephen King kick right now. I got hooked on him after reading 11/22/63. If you havent' read that one yet...WHOA, check it out. Very good book.
In my recent article about my favorite horror movies, I mentioned how much I loved The Shining. I had only seen the movie and decided that reading the book was worth the time, as I had heard it was much better. I thought there was no way the book could be THAT good.
Imagine for a minute that your favorite movie, the one that has frightening imagery, terrifying scenes and one of the best characters of all time in Jack Torrance, could have more detail and better reasoning for what happens in the Overlook Hotel. That's one of the big differences between the movie and the book. It's no longer a question of "is Jack Torrance already crazy and just went over the deep end?" The book makes it much clearer that the Overlook Hotel itself is an evil place and it corrupts Jack Torrance to get his son, Danny and his special gift. The movie focuses so much time and effort on Jack's character and makes Wendy Torrance a blubbering, annoying harpy. You want her to get eviscerated by Jack's ax in the end just so she'll shut up!
In the book, Wendy was worth a damn and held her own against the onslaught of Jack's steadily growing insanity. There was much more of a relationship between Jack and Wendy than just her nagging him all the time. You saw a woman both in love with and frightened by her husband. Her character in the book was vastly different but so was another character, one who is MUCH more important: Danny Torrance.
The novel and movie vary drastically on important issues when it comes to young Daniel Anthony Torrance. The movie makes Danny Torrance a very ordinary kid with a preternatural gift who is very close to his mother and there's a certain distance between he and his father. The novel shows you a much different dynamic: Danny thinks the world of his father and looks up to him. They are very close which makes Jack's eventual possession by the hotel that much more frightening. Plus, Danny is a very bright boy who understands more than most 5 year olds BECAUSE of the shining, which he is not afraid to talk to people about, admitting it freely to his doctor. The movie tends to treat his "shining" as a plot device, a macguffin of sorts where it is only used to further the plot or build tension. And Tony, his imaginary friend? The novel explains how and why he exists.
There are more differences but I won't bore you with every single one of them. Let me just make this point clear. We live in a society where everything has to be instant;text messages, Facebook responses, and instant streaming of movies and TV shows. Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to reading, I feel that so many people just can't be bothered with it any longer. This novel made a good movie look pedestrian in comparison. The time spent reading this book was well worth the patience. It was better than binge watching a TV series because the imagery was my own. Don't "TL;DR" like a chump. Read something. Instead of ignoring people with your cell phone, you can ignore them with a book! Then they'll think you're smart!
Reading The Shining was rewarding, but like most books, once I'm finished with it, I want to know what else happens with the characters. Stephen King wanted to know, too so he relased a sequel in 2013 called Doctor Sleep. Much like the correlation between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, the sequel surpasses the first in the series but owes its superiority to the original. Doctor Sleep is that good.
The book is still relatively new and I don't want to ruin it if you haven't read it yet, but I will give you enough to entice you. Doctor Sleep picks up right where The Shining left off. Danny and Wendy Torrance are living in an apartment in Florida. The haunts of the Overlook didn't stay in Colorado, they continue to harass young Danny. With the help of his old friend, Dick Hallorann, Danny learns how to protect himself from the ghosts of his past.
As Danny gets older, he follows the same path of his father. His reasoning may be different than Jack Torrance's, as Dan (as he calls himself in his adult years) uses alcohol as a way to suppress his shining ability, but the results are the same. Dan becomes angry and alcoholic and spends years drifting across the country. He hits "rock bottom" after a run-in with a single mother in North Carolina and decides to hit the road one last time.
He eventually settles in Frasier, New Hampshire and finds a few people who are willing to help him straighten his life out. He decides to stop drinking, he get's a part time job as a groundskeeper and then picks up full time work at a hospice. With his sobriety, his abilities re-awaken and he uses them to help the elderly in a nursing home. His shining helps those ready to die pass on peacefully and he picks up the nickname "Doctor Sleep."
A few months before 9/11, a young girl named Abra is born. She has the ability to shine as well but is much more powerful than Dan. They begin to establish a psychic connection as Abra grows older. One night, Abra psychically witnesses a young boy with shining abilities ritualistically tortured and killed by a vampire-like group known as the True Knot. They feed off the pain and suffering of others, but grow even stronger if the pain and suffering comes from someone with the shining ability, which they refer to as "steam." As Abra witnesses this cold-blooded murder, the True Knot's leader, Rose the Hat, feels Abra's presence and formulates a plan to kidnap her and feed off of her "steam" for years. Abra begs Dan for his assistance in stopping the True Knot.
The book is incredibly well written, just like anything from the pen of Stephen King. It keeps you on the edge of your seat as Dan and Abra try to take on the True Knot. Aside from the suspenseful nature of the book, there are also many touching moments. For example, when Dan helps an elderly man pass, he holds his hand and the two see the greatest moments of the man's life together as he peacefully "goes to sleep." You also feel sorry for Dan and Abra as you begin to realize their gift is also a burden they must carry. You don't agree with Dan's choices to turn to alcohol, but you certainly understand. There is a part in the book that deals with the attacks of September 11th that gave me goosebumps. Few books can accomplish that sort of feat.
In conclusion, if you haven't read The Shining yet, go ahead and pick up a copy. Read it first, it's THAT much better than the movie. Then, pick up Doctor Sleep. It's a sequel that stays true to the original characters and answers a lot of questions you may have had after finishing The Shining. Stephen King has established himself as one of the greatest authors in American literature and continues to churn out page-turning, enthralling stories.