I haven’t been a good read-along participant. I raced through the audiobook of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s follow-up to The Shining, completely forgetting that I was supposed to be tweeting my thoughts as I went along. Actually I completely forgot about the read-along until I saw Ti’s post on the first six chapters on her blog, Book Chatter!
So, I’m cheating to catch up and answering some questions from two sections, Chapters 1-6 and Chapters 7-13. I will be careful about spoilers for the rest of the book, but if you haven’t read Doctor Sleep yet, you might not want to read this post.
The Sleep Along is hosted by Cheap Thrills and Tif Talks Books. It’s not too late to join in if you’re reading Doctor Sleep now. You can tweet with the hashtag #sleepalong, post comments on their blogs, and/or answer the discussion questions on your own blog, if you have one.
Part One (Chapters 1–6)
Doctor Sleep picks up not long after the closing of The Shining. For those who have recently read The Shining, do you think it proves to be helpful in diving into the sequel? If you have not recently read The Shining, do you feel you are missing out on some of the details?
I listened to The Shining on audio in February for the #shineon readalong organized by Ti at Book Chatter and I’m glad I did. Watching the movie doesn’t give you the same detailed memories that the little boy from The Shining, Danny, is still trying to bury as the grown-up Dan Torrance in Doctor Sleep. Also, it really helped to have The Shining fresh in my mind because there are a LOT of references in Doctor Sleep to things that happened in The Shining and they aren’t all included in the movie version.
Danny has now become Dan. In Part One (Chapters 1–6), we watch his transformations from learning to live with the horrors of the Overlook to succumbing to alcoholism (like his father) to becoming sober and earning the nickname “Doctor Sleep”. What do you think about the journey King has taken Dan on thus far?
It was very hard to like Dan at some points in the part of the book, which I think was the author’s intention! The journey into alcoholism seemed realistic for someone like Dan who is genetically prone to it and who had been literally “fighting demons” from the age of five. His struggle to stay sober seemed realistic, as well, and the idea that he was somehow led (by Tony, his long-ago childhood imaginary friend) to take those jobs at the hospice and the Teenytown railroad.
We are also introduced to the True Knot in this first section. What do you think about this group?
This group of normal-looking RV travelers is creepy, and sure to get creepier as the book goes on. At first, I was annoyed to be switched over to yet another story about another group of people, after already being switched over to the story of Abra’s parents and great-grandmother – none of whom seemed to have any connection to Dan Torrance, whose story I was engrossed in. But, of course, that’s Stephen King’s style; eventually the story strands will all come together. You know they will!
Part Two (Chapters 7–13)
In Part One, we get to know Abra mostly through her parents or other adults. In Part Two, we get to know her much better. What do you think of this extraordinary girl?
Abra’s powers are intriguing and the shining in her is described as so much stronger than it was in Dan, that it seems incredible that she wouldn’t have slipped up somewhere and let her secret out. I wondered whether Dan’s shining was really so much weaker by the time he was her age or was it muted by his upbringing, while hers took on strength from having an unbroken, supportive family. After all, little Danny Torrance at age five was able to call to Dick Halloran from Colorado all the way to Florida with his mind, back in The Shining.
Do you have any speculations on what the True Knot are? We know how they sustain themselves, and we’ve seen the way they die. They’re not, as Abra calls them, “ghostie people,” but they aren’t really human either.
I’m not going to answer this one, because I read ahead and finished the book before writing my responses. But I’ll probably never look at an RV on the highway in the same way again!
Considering that Chapter Thirteen is one of the most intense in the book so far, did anyone actually stop reading here? Or could you not wait to race on ahead?
I raced ahead. The audiobook narration is great, by the way! Will Patton was a new narrator to me and he was excellent! There are a few places where Dan is remembering things his father used to say, and there’s just a hint of Jack Nicholson there, just enough without being a full-on imitation. He also manages to do the voice of Abra coming from the body of the 40-something Dan Torrance, which must have been hard!