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Joyland  By  cover art

Joyland

By: Stephen King
Narrated by: Michael Kelly
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Publisher's Summary

"Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book.... Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved."
—Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime.

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. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

©2013 Stephen King. All rights reserved. (P)2013 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

King in his Summer Finest

I read Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (1962) years ago and never forgot it. I've reread it several times, and always find something new in the story of a traveling carnival lead by Mr. Dark, whose followers are marked by tattoos.

I felt the same way when I listened to Stephen King's "Joyland" (2013), even though the plots of the books are quite different. The atmosphere is the same, and so is the sense of evil. The carnival rides play a key part in both.

"Joyland" is a regional 'Six Flags' type of amusement park, not an international destination like Disneyland. I loved the new 'carny' language I learned. Guess that makes me a 'greenie', but at least I'm not a 'rube' if I know the lingo. That makes this the perfect book for a patient parent to listen to/read if she's been drafted as chaperone on one of those long, hot summer days of not-quite-cutting edge rides, junk food, and sunburned children excited enough to throw up on her shoes.

"Joyland" is a true mystery. Solving the mystery does not rely on the supernatural elements in "Joyland", so mystery fans won't be disappointed by vague clues from beyond being the key to figuring out 'who dunnit'. Finding the killer was no easy task for Devin Jones, the protagonist (aptly narrated by Michael Kelly) and it isn't easy for the listener/reader either.

"Joyland" is also a sweet coming of age story of love lost and love found, set against the backdrop of the most powerful love of all.

This book has some mild, not explicit sex. There is some violence, but it doesn't come near the violence in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. It's good for 'young adult' readers. For Stephen King fans, there are plenty of references to his other works - and it's fun to find them. However, the book stands on its own - you don't need to get the inside joke from King's "The Dead Zone" (1979) to love the story.

[if this review was helpful, please click the helpful button. Thanks!]

96 people found this helpful

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Realistic scary is better than blood & guts scary!

For those of you, like my wife, who think that Stephen King is "just a gross horror writer," I ask you to read this book. I tell my wife, at least once a year, Mr. King is so much more than what you accuse him of being. She points to old movies and say's there's no character development and only blood and scary stuff. To my wife and to everyone else that consider his books no more, I offer you "Joyland" as proof that your wrong.
Joyland is a well written story about a young man's life in the 1970's. He is losing his first true love to another man, so he tries to lose himself in work at an amusment park. Helping him stay there are good friends, life lessons, and the promise from a palm reader that he will save a life or two if he stays longer. While there he finds an unsolved murder mystery that he tries to solve. It is a "who done it", wraped in a "realistic scary story" that's rolled up with "great characters." It is shorter than most of his past works, so it shouldn't scare off too many readers that fear long books. At around 8 hours I got a great read. One last thing, for me, keeping a horror story realistic, keeping me entwined in solid characters, is better and much more scary than making it based on a bunch of blood and guts.
Thank you Stephen King!!!

89 people found this helpful

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Gripping!

7.5 hours of ghosts, murder and Stephen King's unique and colorful brilliance. If you enjoy Stephen King's crime stories, this is a great listen. If you enjoy his horror stories, this has it too.
Not normally being a night person, I started listening to this late last night and couldn't stop until I finished it this morning. I purchased it in hopes of using it for a road trip this weekend...too late! It was just too good to stop listening.

I don't like to write reviews that give away too much of the story because I don't like reading reviews that are written like book reports for a college course. So I will just say that you will not be disappointed. Local amusement parks are always a bit haunted and creepy, unlike the Disneys and 6 Flags. Joyland was a great setting for a really great scary story.

The reader has a great voice. Although telling the story from the rear view of a 60 year old man, it was very easy to envision him as the college boy with a broken heart. Often the voices detract from the story for me. This book could not have been read by a better voice. (Although I love the Stephen King books that are actually read by Stephen King)

This not available on Kindle yet so whispernet is not available, but listening you can't go wrong. I wish I had it in front of me rather than already finished...this would have been great for my road trip alone, very scary!

82 people found this helpful

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great Stephen King crime/mystery

I enjoyed this Stephen King novel as much as any I have read of his in a long while. King captures the life of a 21 year-old in 1973. At the center of this novel is an unsolved murder on one of the rides at an amusement park, Joyland. Some claim that the ghost of the murdered woman comes out at times. King drew me in to the time and place, and I liked the fact that there was just a small supernatural twist to this. Mostly, it's a college student and his friends enjoying their summer and trying to solve an old murder on the side. I found myself caring about the main character and the subplots. It's a short, fun, fast-moving novel. The reader is good. Overall, it was a 4.5 star book to me. It's a perfect summer book (light, escape fiction), with a good ending that made me round my rating up to a 5.

67 people found this helpful

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The sweest and creepiest coming of age story!

Stephen King has penned his first hard crime novel in Joyland, the tale of a serial killer in a amusement park. College student Devin Jones takes a job at a amusement park one summer. It will be a summer he won't forget as he recovers from a broken heart, learns what life is like as a "carny" and tries to solve a murder.

I'm a big mystery reader. I have a whole bookcase dedicated to the greats and the more recent releases. So when I heard Stephen King was writing a mystery I was intrigued. I have loved everything King has written and I was really interested in seeing if he could pull off a mystery, without it turning into a horror "slash-em" novel. Well let me reassure die hard King fans - he can!!

For me Joyland was more than just a murder mystery. It was a cold case murder mystery combined with a coming-of-age story that was possibly the sweetest coming-of-age story I've ever read. Well if you take away the creepy-serial killer-at-a-amusement-park thing!

I really enjoyed the story from Devin's point of view. He is young, in love, and later nurses a broken heart. His year at Joyland was the year that he grew up and learnt so much, and this comes across so clearly in both King's writing and Michael Kelly's narration. It's a story of heartbreak, sorrow and death. It was a story that I am so glad I read, and one I will never forget.

Joyland is a intriguing mystery and a coming-of-age story all rolled into one. I highly recommend it to both King fans and mystery fans alike. Michael Kelly's narration was fantastic, as he tells of the highs and lows of the summer.

62 people found this helpful

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Best Audio book of 2013!

Where does Joyland rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The very few people who actually read my audio books reviews recognize that I am an unapologetic Stephen King fan. Many Stephen King fans enjoy being sacred or are followers of the American of horror genre. I am not one those readers. Instead, I admire Stephen King (SK) due to the rich storylines, engaging plots, and interplay between characters. Joyland has all of these elements in abundance.

Joyland is ultimately a nostalgic novel that brings your back to in time and age. SK seems to have a perfect recollection of what was like to be a heart broken college student unencumbered by social obligations. Devin Jones (main character) is free to explore life, take risks, and discover himself. Along the way Devin develops lasting friendships and learns the value of helping others. Joyland's characters are memorable, fun, and full of energy. Like all SK novels, Joyland allows the reader to enter into situations one rarely gets to see in real life. Devon's journey to self actualization is exciting, touching, and never (ever) boring. Many readers/listeners may assume that Joyland is scary or full of crime because it was written by SK. Although the plot revolves around an unsolved murder, Joyland is a vehicle for SK to write about pinnacle life events that serve to shape one's life.

Stephen King's Joyland is a perfect audio book. The number of characters, settings, and situations are easily manageable without referring to written materials. I hope you give Joyland a try.

61 people found this helpful

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Meh-Land

Stephen King is a great writer, and no doubt will get plenty of 5 star reviews on his reputation alone. In this sea of glowing stars and smiling faces singing his praises, I hate to be "that guy" but I will.

This book is nothing new and is pretty average at best. King can tell a story so it is not dreadful, and the short length of this book keeps the pacing moving better than some of his other works of late. Ultimately a handful of things made me not like this book very much.

1. Overly Sentimental. Geez is King writing romance novels for elderly ladies lately or what!?. No offense but where's the guy that wrote freakin' Salem's Lot! The sappiness in this story was over the top - especially the ending which was almost too much to listen to.

2. Not cohesive or focused. Was this a paranormal story or a detective story or a coming of age story? The story lines were each sketched out but none carried the weight very well and the intereaction between them was clunky.

3. It was preachy. The story is told from the perspective of this old geezer thinking back on his 21st year with all the "wisdom" of the ages. Groan. King also throws in all these preachy bits about smoking, racism, religion, politics that did nothing for the story at all. Do we really care that the amusment park was smoke free!? These points took me right out of the story.

4. This last bit is for all authors out there (like any are reading my review, right?). Please don't write about NC or the south in general unless you really know about the area. It is like a guy born and raised in MA trying to do a NC accent. It just sounds totally false. This book had southern stereotypes and descriptions of the locales and weather that made me go - huh? NC? really?

I give this book a 3/5 stars. Even though it might deserve a little less, this is Stephen King after all and even I am not immune to his reputation.

46 people found this helpful

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This is the number 3 song on the A-side of one of your favorites bands newest LP. It's not the title track or the one getting the most play, but you like it. As we all know, King can tell a story and create atmosphere like no other, and for 7 1/2 hours it was fun hanging out at the local amusement park...watching the goofy dance numbers performed by the employees, eating corn dogs, riding the hammer, and getting creeped out in the Terr-O-Ride. If you are a fan of horror--you are going to be as disappointed as Clark Griswold was to find out Wally World was closed for the season, but fans of King's style should enjoy the fun light ghost story.

46 people found this helpful

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Another Great Horror book

Not all authors can do what Stephen King can do. First of all what made me buy this book before i even read the summary is that its a horror book by Stephen King called "Joyland" that was a reason enough for me. if you liked King's other horror book you will love this one. Remember how his book Duma key was? If you do then just add this and read it, and if you don't go buy Duma Key too then.

I was waiting for this book for a while and i decided listening to a horror book at night would be the greatest thing, so took the day off from work and had a good scary listen to this book

I don't want to say whats going on in the book exactly and i advice you not to check because getting surprised is way much better.

The narrator did a great job, plenty of differente voices, and he gave life to these characters.

highly recommended and you will love it.

19 people found this helpful

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THERE'S A LOT TO BE SAID FOR BOREDOM

NEVER KID A KIDDER, KIDO
I love Stephen King and most of his books, and Jim the Impatient, listened to this whole thing, so it is not boring. It is not horror, it's kind of a cheap imitation of Water For Elephants. As much as I love King, I will advise you to read Water for Elephants instead. It is better written, more involved, scarier, and a better look at circus life then this is a look at Carney life.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE PAST, EVERYONE WRITES FICTION.
If this had been a true story, it might have been a tear jerker, if we had been more invested in the characters, it would have been less cheesy. Like Howard Stern says on America's Got Talent," Mr. King, I believe you fell a little flat tonight, I loved what you did in previous nights, but tonight something was missing." Bachman's version of this story would be more to my taste.

MAKE IT JOB ONE
I also wonder if the mother had not been drop dead gorgeous if our hero would have befriended the cripple. Sorry kid, your mother's too plain looking.

I'M AS DRY AS TEN YEAR DOG SH@@

17 people found this helpful