Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, the 2013 follow up to his classic 1977 novel, The Shining, is an interesting and disappointing story.
It follows on from The Shining, focusing on how young Danny, eventually Dan, learns how to cope with his shining ability and the ghostie people that still haunt him. Over several time jumps, Dan turns into an alcoholic and does some despicable things. Eventually, however, he overcomes his addiction and uses his shining ability to help people in a hospice. Then Abra, a girl unknown to him, who has vast shining skills, contacts him and he becomes involved in protecting her from a cult of centuries old people called the True Knot, who use the life force, or “steam”, from people with shining abilities.
As with most of his books, King shines at creating suspense, with much of the story a tense and exciting read. He also excels at portraying Dan’s alcoholism, depicting the desperation and despicable lows Dan sinks to with authenticity. Yet, once Dan overcomes his alcoholism, the story peters out.
While the concept of the True Knot is interesting, it’s characters are unrelatable stereotypes and their depiction is flat. Whereas Dan’s despicable acts are relatable as a human struggle, the horrific acts of the True Knot are truly evil. Still, King’s portrayal of Dan’s guilt is realistic, while his development of Abra and Dan’s shining abilities, mind speak, and their relationship are well developed.
In the end, however, the story comes across as average, with the second half reading like an engaging yet predictable Hollywood blockbuster. That said, fans of Stephen King or the genre might enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s a somewhat disappointing sequel.