*WARNING there are spoilers*
*ALSO I understand that I am late to the game. This book has been around for a while. However, I felt compelled to write an analysis anyway*
I know, I know, this book has been discussed to no end. Numerous people have beat me to the punch and it might seem exhausting for some to see another review/analysis of this book. However, since I recently read it for the very first time, I felt that an impromptu analysis was warranted.
I have always been a fan of the movie adaptations of Stephen King’s books. I remember, as a kid my first introduction to the horror genre was the movie “Pet Sematary”. My aunt, who at the time was a teenager, thought it necessary to see the movie, as most people in our family are horror fanatics. That movie prompted me to watch more and more of the Stephen King branded movies. Eventually I made my way to “The Shining”.
The movie was great, but I had never had the focus needed to read the book until now. King’s descriptive writing style was intimidating to me, and I had the attention span of a fly, so I never was able to sit down and enjoy any of the books. Until now, that is. I have now been flying through his work like crazy! That is what encouraged me to want to write this review. I have a new understanding and love for his stories.
The relationship between Jack and his family is wonderfully complex. From their descriptions, they seem like the perfect, ideal family from the outside looking in. But the more that unfolds describing their past and present shows readers a side of family life that readers love to explore. Other characters that interact with the family *know* about Jack’s recovery from alcoholism, but most don’t know his violent, frightening nature that he tucks neatly away underneath his fragile sobriety.
That causes a host of problems between he and his wife. Wendy loves Jack dearly, but is almost always wary of him. Jack has been known to be violent; he flew into a fit of rage, breaking Doc’s arm one night while drunk and lost his job later for beating a student while sober. Both of them resent each other throughout the entire book, but it is rarely spoken aloud. And poor Doc is able to see and feel all of these things without understanding what they mean or why they are happening.
Doc loves his father unconditionally, much to Wendy’s dismay. She can’t seem to understand why her son loves his father so much, when she’s always been the one to care (not to mention she had never laid a hand on him). She almost *needs* his love to affirm herself that she is better than her own mother.
I think what I drew from this book was the family’s disfunction. It was the perfect breeding ground for what the hotel was capable of.
Ah, the hotel. This is where the meat of the story is, in my opinion. When I compared the Book-Overlook to the Movie-Overlook, I felt that the movie made it very ambiguous about what was really happening there. Specifically, when I watched the movie even after reading the book, I found myself wondering whether he was just losing his mind and finally allowing his anger and frustrations come out, or if the evil presence living in the hotel was at fault.
The book does an *amazing* job of showing this to readers. This isn’t just a matter of cabin-fever. No, this is some deep, dark presence that wants Doc all to itself. His ‘shine’ is what the hotel covets. It wants the strength that comes with it, the strength to show its true colors year-round rather than only while there are no visitors.
The hotel uses Jack’s feelings of resentment and his yearning for a drink to push him over the edge. Throughout this whole book, Jack wants the hotel to want him, but he knows deep down it really wants his son, which in turn causes more resentment. At the end of the day, in his mind, the only way for the hotel to want him is if he gets his family out of the way.
He does everything in his power to keep Doc there for the hotel’s use, but ultimately he fails. Doc is able to see through the façade, the fact that the hotel had been using his father as a mask. Once he realizes that his father is gone, he is able to stand up to the hotel and deceive it.
Some might wonder why I didn’t discuss this one first, as it is literally where the title came from. I truly felt that, while this is obviously important to the story, the hotel and the characters were much more interesting to think and talk about.
Doc’s shine is really interesting, though. Throughout the story, Doc is guided by Tony, who his family deems his ‘imaginary friend’. Readers know, though, that he is far from imaginary. He often warns Doc about things and tries to help whenever he can.
I have to admit that I was a bit lost as to who Tony actually was. (if anyone has answers, feel free to comment!) Despite my confusion, I loved the way this power was described in the story. There are many people who shine, but there are a few really, really strong ones out there.
This was an interesting take on people who just seem to *know* or understand others on a level that most other people can’t.
A lot of this may sound like ravings of a madman, but let’s be honest. This is how I get about books that I absolutely love. “The Shining” is one of the most well-written books I have read in a long time, and I am excited about reading more Stephen King (I am currently reading Pet Sematary).
As a side note, this book inspired me in ways I never would have imagined. I used to be so self-conscious about how detailed I was in my writing, but after reading this book, I realized that it isn’t such a bad thing.
If you haven’t already, you should definitely give this book a read. I highly recommend it to horror lovers!