Victoria is an avid reader whose opinions are based on how each novel ranks within its genre.
A Synopsis of Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep is the sequel to the famous novel The Shining by Stephen King. This time, the main protagonist is Danny Torrance, the young boy from the original novel who had a special gift for seeing what lurks in the shadows. Now Danny Torrance is a full-grown man whose demons from the Overlook Hotel have followed him into adulthood.
Dan is a drunk like his father, and it's not until he finally hits his moral rock bottom that he decides it's time to turn his life around. Just as his life begins to fall into place. he meets (through the shining) Abra Stone. Abra's shining abilities are outstanding and possibly the strongest the world has seen for centuries, so when a group called The True Knot learns of her ability Abra's life becomes at risk.
The True Knot wants to eat Abra's shining, for it keeps them alive and healthy as long as they are well-fed. The race for Abra's life begins, but Dan Torrance will have to face more than just The True Knot—he'll also have to square off with his own demons that he thought had been put to bed in the past.
The Novel's Pros
Here are three things that make the Doctor Sleep great:
You Don't Need to Read The Shining
The Shining was a great novel, but I can confidently say that you are not missing out on a great deal of information if you jump straight into Doctor Sleep. The beginning of the novel perfectly summarizes exactly what you need to know about Danny Torrance and what happened at the Overlook Hotel. So if you want to read this novel and don't want to read The Shining, don't worry—you will still enjoy this novel.
It Has Good Character Development
The two main protagonists in this novel are Danny Torrence and Abra Stone, and both characters grow immensely from the first page to the last. Dan, who's an alcoholic, finds his road to recovery, and Abra learns to control her shining without being afraid to share it with her family. These characters are so lovable and easy to connect with, I can honestly say King did an amazing job making them into real people.
It Has an Awesome Villain
What I enjoyed most about this story is the perfect villain that King created with this group The True Knot and their ring leader Rose the Hat, who is beautiful and vicious but oddly likable. The book reads like a race because of the nomadic nature of the characters and is very hard to put down.
Life was a wheel, its only job was to turn, and it always came back to where it started.
— Stephen King, Doctor Sleep
The Novel's Cons
Here are two downsides to Doctor Sleep:
The Movie Has a Better Ending
This will be an unpopular opinion, but I decided to read this novel after watching the movie because I thought the movie was so well done that the book had to be amazing. Much of the book is basically identical to the movie with some minor extra details that books naturally always have over the movies. However, the last 25% of the book was so different than the movie that it was disappointing, only because the movie ending, in my opinion, was much more epic than the book's, which felt dry and a bit anti-climatic.
It Is a Bit Repetitious
This is the second Stephen King novel I've read, and I can honestly say I have noticed part of his writing style is using key phrases over and over again trying to drill information into the minds of his readers for dramatic effect. I understand its purpose, but I honestly find it to be a bit annoying to the degree that I just rush over certain parts so I can get back to the main plot.
'I changed it. I had to. Do you know why?' She studied him, her eyes grave. 'Because that was then and this is now. Because the past is gone, even though it defines the present.'
— Stephen King, "Doctor Sleep"
My Final Thoughts
If you're looking for a good introductory novel into the Stephen King universe, I highly recommend starting with Doctor Sleep. It has a steady flow with great characters who aren't shallow and have a lot of substance and depth.
King uses his own battle with alcoholism to build Dan's character, so it all feels very real and natural. It's a nice nod to The Shining, but it's not so absorbed around it that you need to read it prior to reading this novel. Then once you've finished the book, you can go and watch the movie. I imagine you will be quite impressed with the adaptation!
If you'd like to read it, grab a copy for yourself!