I ordered Stephen King’s new book Joyland about two weeks ago, but didn’t get around to reading it until this weekend. I’ll say up front that I’m a big Stephen King fan (not quire on the Misery level, but a big fan, nonetheless) and I’m probably predisposed to like anything that he writes. However, I think I’m pretty safe in saying that even people who aren’t fans might want to give this one a shot. It’s not horror by any stretch of the imagination. It has a bit of a ghost story, but the thrust of the book is much more crime/mystery than supernatural. And it’s a good mystery, with all the requisite red herrings and misdirections. I was surprised at the end, and that doesn’t always happen, even with a good mystery.
And underneath the ghost story and murder mystery, Joyland is a coming-of-age story. This is something that King handles quite well (and quite regularly, too.) He still has a good feel for what it’s like to be young, and just now growing into your adult self. In that aspect, this book is probably most like Hearts in Atlantis – if you liked that one, you will most likely like this one.
I’d recommend Joyland to most King fans (with the exception of the ones that complain that his non-horror works are not “real Stephen King” – if you only read him for straight up horror, you won’t like this) and to anyone who likes a good whodunnit story. It’s only available in real book format for now – King and the publishers are trying to support bookstores, apparently – but I’ve read that an e-book may be coming along eventually. At about $7, though, it’s worth just buying the paperback version.