My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We all know King. We all know that King can write epic, sprawling, huge and fantastical stories. But there are times when King is at his best when he scales down the chapters of set-ups and scene-setting, when the characterising speeches are minimized, and the locations are sparse and few. It’s a long established opinion that the best film adaptations of his works come from the shortest stories (Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption being the obvious candidates), and Joyland, is another one of his ‘short but sweet’ wonders.
It’s 1973 and 21 yr old Devin Jones is disillusioned-with his love-life, his education and himself. On a whim he applies to work at old fashioned carnival come theme park Joyland, and finally his life begins.
To call Joyland a ‘horror’ or ‘thriller’ story would be doing it a disservice and I notice a lot of reviews claiming it’s “nothing like King”. I can only presume that these people haven’t really ‘read’ King properly, as it’s EXACTLY like King as it’s what he does best. It’s 100% a character study with the ‘crime/horror’ element firmly in the background. Every single character is believable: full of heart, full of sorrow and pain, all with the common bond of living for the now, the future being something they don’t want to consider.
Don’t pick this up expecting another ‘IT’ or ‘Salem’s Lot’, Joyland is a novella full of heart with a side-order of menace and the perfect beach/flight/curl up in your book-nook and not come out ’till you’re finished novel.
Go and get it.