Written by Matt Molgaard
I’ve kept up with regular “columns” for virtually every publication I’ve ever written for. It seems only appropriate that I kick one off for HNR. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of running a regular piece in which I admit I was wrong about a specific slice of entertainment. I don’t change my mind about novels all too often, so the Admitting I Was Wrong installments may see extended periods of time pass between each offering, but you can count on the fact that you’ll see more in the future one way or another. Even I’m wrong… from time to time (insert smiley emoticon).
These pieces will generally focus on a novel that I initially loathed, but eventually found the beauty in. From time to time you may see me tackle a piece that I enjoyed the first time through, but found disappointing upon revisiting, or you may find an editorial similar to the one you eye now.
I loved Stephen King’s, Joyland. I feel confident in saying it’s the finest novel I’ve read from King in a great number of years. I made that known in my review (check it out right here), but somehow, I think I still sold the novel short. If any novel merits massive hyperbole, it’s Joyland, and there just weren’t enough ten-dollar words or bold declarations in my review. My final rating was a 4.5/5. And… I admit, I was wrong. There’s no way in hell Joyland isn’t a solid 5 star book. It’s about as close to perfect as one could hope for, and it lingers like few novels manage. Weeks after reading this one, I’m still thinking about it. The characters are still alive in my brain, and they’re calling out.
Chances are high Joyland sees a second read from me within the calendar year, even with Doctor Sleep on the way. I’d consider the novel to be far superior to anything else I’ve read in 2013. In fact, I’d consider it better than any novel I picked up in 2012 as well. Truth is, it’s hard to remember the last novel that made me say whoa, this is remarkable! But King’s mystery/thriller made it happen for me. It’s perfectly assembled with all the right characters and a gratifying finale. It’s faultlessly vintage and extremely charming. If you’re after a novel that will command complete attention, this is the novel you seek. King proves that he’s anything but washed up (a strange belief amongst many “fans”), and he’s still got a wealth of creativity in the bank.
While Joyland is far more mystery thriller than horror, the macabre elements are most certainly intact. The dark ride, the elusive serial killer, it’s the stuff of horror. But the novel reads like a remarkably engaging… well, almost memoir, at times. Hands down one of the strongest mystery works to see release since the turn of the century, Joyland might just mark the career second wind of Stephen King. Simply amazing, and realistically, 5’s across the board. I must have been out of my noggin with that 4.5 star rating, and truth is, you should have all heavily berated me!