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How Much Joy is in JOYLAND, Really?

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“Joyland” by Stephen King

State: North Carolina


I always jump at the opportunity to read a summer coming of age story. "Joyland" by Stephen King hit the spot.

The story - set in the innocent 1970s - follows college student Devin Jones who spends his summer working at an amusement park. He is getting settled and learning the ins and outs of the job. Along the way he meets an interesting cast of characters, and because this IS of course a Stephen King novel, he also learns that one of the rides - The House of Horrors - harbors a sinister past, and the ghost of the murdered girl is said to haunt the place. The “Funhouse Killer” was never discovered and Devin becomes curious about her story and is determined to solve the case.

I love King's characterization, and this book is no exception. His young adults are incredibly well-drawn and vivid, in both their naivete and their intelligence. Devin Jones is a good man, sweet, dependable adn reliable. He takes the job at the amusement park as an attemp to overcome the crushing blow of his break up with Wendy Keegan. She was such a fool for breaking up with him. The reader can tell that Devin is such a lovely guy.

Aside from the characterization, King created a great summer setting. Every scene is easy to picture in the reader's head; the carnival and all of its various happenings are so visceral.

"Joyland" is not KIng's typical horror story. This one is a nice mystery with some horror elements. The first half of the book was very slow and seemed to take me an age to read. There was a lot of chracter development and focus on Devon's hearbreak. The second half moves along at a good pace. King wrapped up with a moving conclusion that I loved.

Horror books set in North Carolina:

"The Twisted Ones", by T. Kingfisher

"Ghost Story", by Peter Straub


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