I’m a big fan of alternate history as a genre and I definitely like Stephen King’s œuvre, but the premise of this novel — that there’s a time portal to 1958 and the protagonist goes through to try to prevent the JFK assassination, assuming this would lead to a better world without the Vietnam War (escalated by LBJ) and the assassination of Martin Luther King — really intrigued me.
I’ll be spoiler-free as much as possible, but it’s nice to see that King doesn’t paint 1950s America as some halcyon utopia. Whilst many things are “better” than in the now, there’s all sorts of things that were unempirically worse — the US South was still segregated, social morals were much stricter and the Cold War was at its height, with the Cuban Missile Crisis being in the middle of the protagonist’s time in The Land of Ago. The protagonist needs to wait out five years before JFK’s visit to Dallas, so there is plenty of colour added to this time period.
There are several moments that are genuinely moving, but there’s not a huge amount more I can write without spoiling the plot for anyone who’s not read it yet. If you’re interested in 1950s/1960s America, the JFK assassination or alternate history and an “obdurate past”, then I’d strongly recommend you pick up a copy.Post edited 2013-06-20 to add the following copyright statement. Cover image copyright © Stephen King, taken from his website (via the English Wikipedia) and is used without permission, the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.