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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 September 2013
First of all; this really wasn't what I expected from a novel advertised as the sequel to The Shining. It's not. It's the story of Danny and picks up when he's in his 30s with little explanation of where he's been in the interim period.

There are flashbacks to the Overlook Hotel, some of the characters get a passing mention and there's a ton of information about Danny's ability to 'shine' but almost none of his personal history. For that reason I found the beginning of the novel quite disjointed and difficult to hook into. However; after a short while of wandering around not knowing where King was actually taking me, he did what he does best - hit me with some of the most surreal, contemporary horror writing I've had the pleasure to read for a long time.

His character of Rose the Hat is by far one of the best fictional characters I've encountered and her evil troupe, The True Knot, are written as unbelievably vile in their selfish act of taking a life in order to extend their own. Thoroughly enjoyed King's updated take on vampyrism. It's not your blood they're after it's your 'steam' and how they get you to part with the very essence of yourself is not pleasant and hurts a great deal!!.

Unfortunately though, King isn't consistent in Doctor Sleep and frequently wanders away padding out his plot with unnecessary dialogue, scene fillers and characters he builds up as massively important only to dissolve them away with little explanation. I found myself completely lost and directionless through large chunks of this novel only to be thrown back in by a new wave of contemporary horror themes, marvelous characterisation and a game of psychic cat and mouse that had my heart pounding.

For me, and this is purely a personal opinion, Doctor Sleep doesn't really start to roll until the last third of the novel. There are some excellent bits and pieces on the journey to that point but; the plot suddenly comes to life once the energy picks up and the chase is on. I'd also have to admit that it's quite emotional, there's a lot of love and people finding one another. Don't be fooled. King has a fantastic ability to build up your expectations, draw you into a place of safety, only to rip the rug right out from under your feet. Add to that King's stunning one line observations into human nature mixed with his sardonic black humour and you're guaranteed a unique ride into this nightmare.

For me, Doctor Sleep isn't particularly scary and also not a novel I would class as 'horror' in the traditional sense. What he's done, and he's done it brilliantly, is taken the worse of human nature and distorted it into something sick and twisted. His demons are housed inside human skin and are absolutely normal on the surface until, suddenly, he peels back that skin and lets you get a look at what's really happening underneath.

I'm unsure how to rate Doctor Sleep. In parts it's just incredibly good but in other parts it drifts away and loses focus which annoyed me greatly. When King's on the ball he's 110% but during this novel he loses concentration, he's distracted and in those places he gives 80%. There were times I felt I was reading two different books. For that reason I'm going for 4* rather than 5*.
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on 26 November 2013
I really wanted to love this book. The Shining has stayed with me as one of the great horror reads but I'm sorry to say that Dr Sleep will not be so fondly remembered and discussed in 35 years time.

Not to say this is a poor book, its exciting, fast paced and interesting, it just doesn't scare you in the way the original did. The irrational fear of elevators and that moment's pause I still take when entering a hotel bathroom for the first time have stayed with me since I discovered Stephen King as a teenage reader.

Dr Sleep takes the `Shining' Danny Torrance from the 1st book and fast forwards through his squalid life of regret and alcoholism until he finds some peace through AA meetings and his ability to help dying patients on their way with his psychic powers.

He soon gets contacted by an even greater psychic, Abra, who is being pursued by a troop of near vampires. The True Knot feed on the steam produced by dying children and their charismatic leader, Rose the Hat, has set her sights on Abra.

This leads to a series of encounters which leads to the final confrontation on the site of ....... well you can guess the location.

The True Knot are memorable villains, but in no way will they terrify you in the way the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel once did. So a good book - but no classic I'm afraid, sometimes you really shouldn't go back !!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 September 2013
The Shining was one of most terrifying (and best) novels I have ever read, so was quite prepared to be pretty terrified by this rather excellent sequel. I didn't find it terrifying - maybe because I'm a lot older now than when I read the Shining back around the time when Heroes was the new David Bowie single - but i did find it to be compelling, fascinating reading which I didn't want to put down.

This is a forces of good versus forces of evil tale, where you leave your disbelief and scepticism at the door and where you become immersed in the world of Stephen King's creation, and where you find yourself rooting hard for the main characters, with all their strenghts and human foibles to prevail.

Danny Torrance, the little boy from the Shining is all grown up in this story, and making his way in life after a fashion whilst fighting hard with alcoholism. He still has a shine - even though he has tried to drown it in booze - and the shine leads him to Abra - a child with even greater powers, who is in great danger. The book tells the tale, makes you care about them, and is undoubtedly another great Stephen King novel. You don't have to have read the Shining first - this book stands on its own - but you will probably get more from it if you have.

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on 11 July 2015
Oh Stephen, time to give it up now? This book is mediocre, the relationship between Dan and Abra unfeasible (unlike the much more convincingly crafted relationship between Dan and Dick Halloran in The Shining) not yet finished the book but I will, because I always do. Don't really care what the ending is, no empathy with the characters. And it has to be said, that although King is an American, writing for a largely American audience, he often spills over into cheesy saccharin ... I mean Teenytown..... how sickly and twee. Going to revisit some of his older works, they are so much better.
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The story of DR SLEEP picks up where The Shining left off, and then accelerates up to date with a whole new cast of characters; one pivotal person from The Shining, and an entirely new story. It's based in the same timeline as The Shining but you really don't need to have read The Shining recently to thoroughly enjoy DR SLEEP.

I read a lot of King's work in my teenage years (all the famous novels and several of the more offbeat ones), and then found it lost direction / was less relevant to me in recent times. I was too familiar with his style / devices / plots, and struggled to engage with the plots and characters.
So it was a real treat to enjoy DR SLEEP as much as I did. I found it very enjoyable; fresh, fast-paced, deftly written and multi-layered. There's a fairly straightforward core storyline but from that hangs all manner of interesting interwoven subplots; I especially enjoyed the philosophical debate about end-of-life care, and the nature of alcoholism.
The new creation for this novel, a band of psychic vampires (kinda) are also fascinating. Even the child character didn't drive me to distraction.

Delighted to rediscover SK writing so well. Mature, entertaining and thought-provoking fiction.
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on 16 August 2014
Before Dr Sleep I hadn't read a Stephen King novel in a fair few years. In my teenage years I read and loved (and was terrified by) Salem's Lot, IT and of course the Shining. I also loved the film, but for completely different reasons. So when a friend asked if I wanted to borrow Dr Sleep I was excited and intrigued, I asked him if he'd read the original and if this sequel was any good. He hadn't read the original and Dr Sleep was only alright, effortless reading but unremarkable. I was still hopeful though, maybe he wasn't a fan, maybe not having read the Shining coloured his judgement, maybe he was just wrong.

Damn shame is, I've just turned the last page and I think he's right. It is only quite good; King is too skilled a story teller for it to be bad, it's just that it all feels a bit underwhelming. The first few chapters, when Danny is still Danny and not yet the adult Dan, crackle with menace as we revisit the characters from the Shining we know so well, but then the book changes course and turns into more of a character study wrapped in a supernatural thriller. We catch up with Dan as he struggles to deal with the demons of his past and the alcoholism he inherits from his father. He finds Abra, a companion who shares his gift and he helps her to face demons of her own. On the whole it's a very nice book, there is a lot of focus on AA and well meaning people helping each other out and it has to be said that Dan's journey is heartfelt and gratifying for fans who love and care about the character. King clearly puts a lot of faith in Alcoholics Anonymous and quotes freely and often from the Big Book, as a recovering alcoholic you can't blame the author for this and AA obviously helps thousands of people, but as an atheist I would have to say that their instance that you hand your life over to God (as you understand him) means that the program is not for everyone. Not too much of a problem, other treatment is available. However King, like so many AA converts, offers AA as the best and only solution and then frames the program thought the eyes of a character who has absolute proof of other plains of existence, well not all of us have that luxury Stephen! Like I say, not a huge problem, it just jarred with me a little.

It seems like a very deliberate choice from the author to not attempt to match the fear factor of the original book and it should be stressed that Dr Sleep is not scary in the slightest; if you're looking for that sort of thing then you will be disappointed. The little tension and suspense there is comes from the True Knot, a group who have been travelling the country for hundreds of years living of the `Steam' that kids who shine give off when they die. They've also noticed Abra and are eagerly awaiting an all you can eat buffet. They do sound promising as bad guys go but on the page they just seemed a little naff and pathetic, a sad band of vultures barely surviving. They have twee names like Rose the Hat, Barry the Chink and Snakebite Annie, they subscribe to a half baked mythology `We are the True Knot and we endure' and come nowhere close to matching the power and resonance of King's classic horror creations. They crucially never seem like a match for Dan and the prodigiously powerful Abra and moments of danger seem to come from her naivety and over confidence rather than any of the True Knot's actions. Their general rubbishness doesn't affect the pleasure of Dan's journey, however it does mean that Abra's tale is only worth telling because we care so much about the young Danny Torrance who suffered so much at the Overlook hotel. If you hadn't read the shining, and had just read Dr Sleep I think you'd consider the book to be deeply average, as my friend said, effortless reading but unremarkable. For fans of the original it has worth and they should find the closure they were looking for but I think that they would be kidding themselves if they thought that, as a novel in its own right, Dr Sleep is worthy of touching the hem of the Shining's garments.
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on 2 May 2014
I am a fan of Stephen King and have read all his books down through the years. I've noticed a steady decline in quality over the last few years, with the odd exception. When I first heard the premise of 'Doctor Sleep' I cringed. A sect of travelling soul vampires intent on sucking the shining from a child, a cat that predicts when someone is going to die, and Danny Torrance from the Shining. It sounded like a mash-up of 'Sleepwalkers' meets the cat from 'Cat's Eye' meets that annoying kid from the TV version of 'The Shining' (the one with the ridiculous haircut). It didn't make any sense.
But I approached the book with an open mind, ready to be proved wrong and willing to get lost in a great story. Unfortunately this didn't happen. The book starts out OK (page 1) and then deteriorated from there. I just didn't find any of the characters scary. Rose the Hat was a joke. The only semi-scary scene when they kill a young boy was glossed over. I found the constant AA references slightly annoying and cliched, and there was a real lack of insight into anything from the previous book. Jack Torrence was written off as a violent alcoholic, so that was a nice and handy way to pigeon-hole him with a simple tag.
Also at one stage King describes clouds as 'fluffy' and when I saw that kind of lazy description I lost all respect for this book. The final showdown is boring and anti-climatic and helped me go to sleep.
Don't get me wrong, I love Stephen King's books (most of them) but can not pretend that I liked this book.

Doctor Sleep is a book too far and I don't believe he should have revisited the world of The Shining at all, or until he had a damn good story that complemented the original. I wonder what's next: Christine 2, when the car gets recycled as a fridge and freezes people to death.
My medical opinion:Take two paracetamol and pretend you never read it and call me in the morning.
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on 31 December 2013
I'm a huge Stephen King fan. This book kept me gripped from the very first page to the last. The Shining was the only book I have ever read that I had to read with my back literally against a wall (the movie had none of the real terror and suspense of the book and was actually quite a disappointment). So Doctor Sleep had one heck of a lot to live up to. I'm pleased to say that it lived up to everything I'd hoped it could be. I am so thrilled I purchased it. Thank you Mr King for a totally top notch read, you are still the best!
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on 26 September 2013
I’ve been a fan of Stephen King ever since I read Misery and I've come back to his work many times over the years. My favourite of works has to be The Shining and it scared the shit out of me. I’ve thought about why it is such a great horror novel a number of times and I think it is because the characters are unable to escape the hotel. The characters in Doctor Sleep are not trapped and that claustrophobic horror is absent from the book, but would we really want Stephen king to rehash probably his greatest novel? Probably not. Still, if you want to see what happens to little Danny Torrance – now a grizzled alcoholic like his father and running from the demons from his past – then this is a truly satisfying novel. There were a few things that I did not like: the True Knot seemed like an awful name; the numerous references to popular culture (did not expect to hear mention of Deanery’s from Game of Thrones); and how the book wasn’t really scary at all. That said, there was just enough reference to The Overlook Hotel to satisfy my needs and I wolfed the book down in just two days. Nowhere near as good as The Shining, but I still think it deserves five stars.
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on 1 October 2013
That review title isn't a criticism of pacing, it's a reflection of how much I wanted to savour the book, but couldn't stop reading it!

An excellent story as ever from King, and a fascinating insight into what happened after the end of The Shining. I really found it interesting that Danny's reflections on his father in this book are mostly about him being dangerous, being a threat to the family because of his anger and his alcoholism. It's a much darker version of the pre-Overlook Jack Torrance than I recall from The Shining. I remember The Shining's Jack to be good-intentioned and that alcohol or ghosties (or ghost alcohol) were to blame for his temper issues. This different perspective is a great reflection of how Dan Torrance has grown up. He has a much more adult view of his Dad and the impact the choices Jack made had on Danny. I can't help thinking as well that these different views of Jack also show a bit of the author's perspective as in the writing of one book an alcoholic who knew he shouldn't but was able to justify his choices, to now being many years sober and much harder on the decisions he made back then.
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