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by Stephen King

genre: crime, paranormal, set in the 1970s

Seriously, what was the hype? Find out why I gave it a 1.5 out of 5 stars!


(Taken from Goodreads)

13596166Joyland is a whodunit noir crime novel and a haunting ghost story set in the world of an amusement park.

It tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a ‘carny’ in small-town North Carolina and has to confront the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the way both will change his life forever. It is also a wonderful coming-of-age novel about friendship, loss, and your first heartbreak. Who dares enter the funhouse of fear?


Since this was Stephen King, I knew there was going to be a lot of hype. I’ve read only Misery which I enjoyed. But I have always wanted to go back and read more. After all, he is a famous writer. This book, in my opinion, was over-hyped.

At the start, I was reading diligently. Trying to give it a good go. I like to stay objective. The story seemed to take forever. There was a lot of focus on Devin (our main character) and things that had happened to him and the characters he interacts with. Wendy makes numerous appearances.

I have an issue with Devin. I only read the first fourth or third of the book before I got too bored. Then I started skipping and skimming. There was barely any crime. No suspense. I was just following a horny, twenty-one year old guy who couldn’t face that his girlfriend had moved on, and he was working at a carnival. What frustrated me so much about Devin was that he continued to talk about how much he loved Wendy and yet it seemed like whenever he talked about her or had a memory, it had something to do with having sex. Since he’s a virgin, I can understand that sex will be on his mind. But, seriously? It was to the point that I was glad she wasn’t with him. The sex was always from a more selfish point of view as well, I don’t recall him talking about it in a ‘wanting to provide her the pleasures of the flesh’ but very much about ‘why haven’t we done it yet’? Don’t know. That just put me off Devin and I got tired of his whining pretty quick.

I loved the idea of the setting being in amusement park. I thought it would make a great creepy as all hell story. Especially since the murder took place in the horror ride. I was so excited! But no…there were scenes and scenes of him interacting with others and obsessing over the past. Side note: the sex scene made me laugh.

I think for someone who enjoys slow-moving stories that really focus on exploring an array of characters, you’ll enjoy this novel. The crime side eventually comes in. But I was able to guess the killer before it had been revealed. And that let me down. I just got bored and I wanted to know more about the murder/horror/creepiness rather than following the dramas and friends of Devin.

Being the second book I ever read of Stephen King, I wasn’t impressed. I need to go back to some classics I think. I feel kinda bad but…it just bored me. I wouldn’t feel right giving it a better score simply because he’s so famous. If anything, famous writers should be scrutinized to make sure they continue to produce quality. 🙂 I give it a 1.5 because if you like slow moving suspense which focus on characterisation, it might be ideal for you.

What did you think of Joyland? Do you think I’m being harsh?

1.5 out of 5 stars

This book is for you if you:

  • Love a book that focuses on characterisation
  • Enjoy reading fiction set in the 1970s

This book is not for you if you:

  • Want a crime book that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let you go until the end

 Ermisenda Alvarez

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