Book Review: The Shining

The shining is a book about a man named Jack, a writer, taking a job at a Hotel called the Overlook, in Colorado. Tasked as the caretaker of the facility for the winter, he and his family move in with the hopes of being able to finish the play he is writing. Danny, Jack’s 5 year old son, has a special ability and with it he has an ominous feeling about the hotel. Wendy, Jack’s Wife, believes this is the opportunity for them all to rekindle what was lost almost a year ago when Jack, in a blind alcohol-fueled rage, broke Danny’s arm. What starts out as an opportunity for the family to build back what they have lost turns into a nightmare living situation as the hotel’s secrets start to come after them, especially Danny.

I thought this book was awesome. the pacing was perfect, it did not over stay its welcome and it also didn’t feel like he cut it short. Jack, Danny, and Wendy all felt like they were given equal amount of attention and detail leading to climactic ending where you’re literally biting your nails waiting to see if things will make a turn for the worst or for the better.

After reading the book, i really wanted to watch the movie. I’d never seen the movie before because I wasn’t much of a horror movie kind of person as a kid. Nowadays, I’m more open to watching really good suspenseful movies. Having just watched it I’d say I definitely thought the book was better and the movie was a bit overhyped for me. The movie was filled with really long shots with scenery and the sequences of the hotel which I thought lended to the claustrophobic feeling felt from the characters. the music too, with its constantly blaring and high pitched long notes, really maximized the suspense, sometimes I would say to its fault. there were some scenes I though were held out for too long especially with the high note but overall pretty good. the book I would say had one or two issues, being some cliches that I find to be to overused in books and in movies where the characters would forget to turn a key or drop something they had to protect themselves. That did not take away from the experience at all though it was just things I noticed.

*Spoilers*

I don’t know a lot of people that haven’t seen the movie but I know plenty that haven’t read the books so I want to talk about a few things that I think the book did better than the movies.

The number one blaring issue that is different from the book to the movie is Jack’s decent into madness. There were multiple scenes in the book where you can see that the hotel was leading him in his decent. most poignant of the scenes is actually in the movie where jack is speaking to the bartender Lloyd. Though the first time, in the book, he was completely by himself, the hotel hadn’t revealed its face to him yet. One thing they left out in the movie though is his growing obsession with the hotels history and secrets. This leads him to try and blackmail the manager, leading to almost being fired from the job. But it was like the hotel wanted to make itself known. Another point of difference is his alcoholism. Throughout the book, he kept saying how a drink would be so good in this “situation,” but whenever he thought of Wendy and Danny he couldn’t allow himself to go there. That led up to the moment where Wendy thought once again that Jack had hurt Danny and that split them up. His anger was the gateway for him to start thinking about himself over the two of them since he thought he was losing them already. Then the moment where he finally gives himself over to the drink is very allegorical to him giving himself to the hotel, even though the drinks were not actually there. Thats what made Danny’s and Jacks last confrontation so powerful because at the end of it all Jack was fighting between the love he had for his family and the influence of the hotel and its enticements, letting love win out at the end.

Another difference I found is the pivotal role Danny had on the events at the end. Yes, he was discovering the secrets of the hotel since he had the shining, but he also learned to be vulnerable with his parents and at least his mom was very reasonable to hear him and try to believe. He also had a lot to do with calling Mr. Hallaron back to hotel to try and rescue them. He and the Hotel even had a screaming match at one point leaving him catatonic for a spell until he woke up and tried to warn of the influence the hotel was having on the dad and even its motivations. The Hotel wanted Danny, because of his power, and was using the dad to get to him.

Wendy I think was left out of the loop the whole movie. In the book she was very intuitive. Even in the book one of the lines I liked the most when Mr. Hallaron and Danny were talking is that mom’s always seem to shine a little themselves. She was aware of Danny’s proclivity to know where things were and even see into peoples minds. And she even opened up the door to allow Danny to speak to her freely about his gift. She was smart, resourceful and thoughtful when it came to Danny and even Jack.

Mr. Hallaron got the worst treatment of them all. he died in the movie but in the book he was able to get them to safety after Danny met with Jack for the final time. Also instead of a hedge maze like in the movie, we had hedge monsters. I’m sure the reason why they changed it was because of the amount of CGI they would have to use and it most likely would’ve pulled people out of the experience. Though, in the book, those hedge monsters did give a few really suspenseful scenes that was something out of nightmare. For instance, when I was little I would dream I was stuck in a confined space only getting smaller and smaller and I would wake up with my heart racing and sweat accumulated on my brow, and in the book there was a scene where Danny is playing in the playground in the snow and digs himself into one of the tunnels. When he gets to other side of the tunnel he realizes that there is ice covering it, closing him in. He immediately gets claustrophobic and as he’s panicking he hears this rustling sound on the other side of the tunnel, which eventually darkens his view. His only exit is blocked by whatever is trying to come in and the only way out is blocked with hard-packed snow and ice. Those tense moments reminded me of the those dreams for some reason leading me to feel what Danny was feeling in the moment.

Anyways, this is all to say that I really liked the book. I was planning on reading the lost world after the shining, but I’ve decided today to read Doctor Sleep instead. I want to see what happens to Danny whether I like it or not. Thanks for reading the blog, hope you enjoyed it! God bless!

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