Dr. Sleep

by Stephen King

“You want to hear a story? One I’ve never told anybody? I should warn you, it’s a weird one. If you think the shining begins and ends with paltry shit like telepathy, you’re way short.” He paused. “There are other worlds than these.”

Dan had no problem with the Higher Power thing, because he had a bit of inside information. God remained an unproven hypothesis, but he knew there really was another plane of existence. Like Abra, Dan had seen the ghostie people. So sure, God was possible. Given his glimpses of the world beyond the world, Dan thought it even likely . . . although what kind of God only sat by while shit like this played out? As if you’re the first one to ask that question, he thought.

If The Shining was Stephen King’s exploration of alcoholism, Doctor Sleep is his unblushing love-letter to Alcoholics Anonymous. For anyone with an interest in this organization, I would highly recommend this book, which provides the reader with the inside scoop on its culture. Although always appreciative and respectful, it is affectionately irreverent as well. And because of that, it is even more effective an endorsement of its methods and procedures.

In addition, it’s also a great yarn. To me though, it wasn’t really a thriller, because I never really feared for Abra, the young prey of the despicable “True Knot.”


It becomes pretty obvious well before everything comes to a head that Abra, along with Dan, are just too powerful a force to be reckoned with. And the predators are in a much-weakened condition during the final confrontation. My main fear, that Abra’s friends and relatives might be collateral damage, was abated by the fact that they were far far away for most of the book. My enjoyment came not from white knuckle suspense, but reveling in the take-down of such evil. We hate them for a particularly heinous murder that is very hard to read about but comes back to take a very large bite out of them. And there are some interesting twists. I’ve read that the final pages of the story are too happy for some people, but after everything they went through, they couldn’t be happy enough for me. **end spoiler**

Another big source of fascination and enjoyment for me is King’s apparent belief in the afterlife and how this book addresses it. I fancy atheists or other cynics might be very turned off by this book.

“I’m not scared of hell. I lived a decent life, and I don’t think there is such a place, anyway. I’m scared there’s nothing.” He struggled for breath. … “There was nothing before, we all know that, so doesn’t it stand to reason that there’s nothing after?” “But there is.” Dan wiped Charlie’s face with the damp cloth. “We never really end, Charlie. I don’t know how that can be, or what it means, I only know that it is.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

February 21, 2020

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