Joyland by Stephen King

Synopsis: Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

Format read: Kindle, via Libby

Age group: Adult

Genre: Thriller

My review: I absolutely loved this! This is what I love about Stephen King, the character depth and development. If you are looking for a fast-paced novel, this isn’t it. If you are looking for emotion and character-depth, this is it.

Devin initially has a girlfriend Wendy, she’s a jerk who doesn’t seem to actually care about him and ends up cheating on him and dumping him. Thankfully he gets over her, eventually, it’s hard of course. He worked at a carnival for a summer job and ended up deciding to stay on for the fall, to help clean up the rides and all that happy stuff, and just go back to college in the spring.

I love the cast of characters and getting to know everyone. The landlord where he stays, a place on the beach, the carnival workers, his friends from college, even his dad.

There is a ghost but i’m not calling this a ghost story. He gets involved trying to figure out who killed this girl awhile ago, in the carnival on a ride in the dark. He also gets involved with a dying child and his mother who live in a house on the beach. It’s sad and heart-wrenching and I had so many feels. While I wasn’t a dying child, I was a disabled child and that made some of it hit close to him.

The atmosphere of the carnival was also wonderful. I could feel the mystery, felt I knew these characters and felt for them. I even loved the ending, which doesn’t always happen with a King novel!

Some quotes

“You think Okay, I get it, I’m prepared for the worst, but you hold out that small hope, see, and that’s what fucks you up. That’s what kills you.”

I know that from experience. I know it’s depressing, but experience has shown me it is true.

“People everywhere sounded kind of paranoid, but I kept my mouth shut. Later I found out it wasn’t paranoid at all. Mike’s grandfather did have them everywhere, and they all saluted Jesus, the flag, and the NRA, although possibly not in that order. “Grampa said I got over the pneumonia because of God’s will. Mom said he was full of bullshit, just like when he said me having DMD in the first place was God’s punishment. She said I was just one tough little sonofabitch, and God had nothing to do with it. Then she hung up on him.””

Good on her! That’s the dying kid talking, Mike.

“During one of my quick-change transformations into Howie, Dottie Lassen had asked me—pretty much out of a clear blue sky—if I had found Jesus. My first impulse had been to tell her that I didn’t know He was lost, but I restrained it.”

Howie is a dog-costume, a mascot of the park. I’m so going to want to use that next time someone asks if i’ve found Jesus.

““I can’t understand why people use religion to hurt each other when there’s already so much pain in the world,” Mrs. Shoplaw said. “Religion is supposed to comfort.””

I wish I knew what else to say, but I don’t. Yea I saw the book isn’t exactly perfect but it has so much wonderful stuff going for it, so much heart, that I can’t help but love it a full 5 stars.

SPOILERS

A quote

““Okay. Take care of yourself.” He grimaced without opening his eyes. “That’s a laugh. How e’zacly am I s’posed to do that? You got any ideas? Because I haven’t. I got no relatives, no friends, no savings, no insurance. What am I gonna do now?””

Dev had said “Okay. Take care of yourself.” to Eddie in the hospital after he had a heart attack, a fellow carnival worker. Eddie isn’t liked by anyone, he’s grumpy and not nice, but it shows there is more to him and why he’s that way. And to a point, I can relate. Sometimes the hardest people to love are those that need it the most.

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