The Shining by Stephen King, Reviewed by Ashton Sparks

The Shining

by Stephen King


Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter sets in, the idyllic location feels even more remote… and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five year old.

I bet everyone thinks that going to a nice hotel and having it all to yourself for the whole winter would be wonderfully fantastic, am I right? Well the Torrance family quickly realizes that having a hotel all to yourself and pretty much being trapped in by snow isn’t all they imagined. They soon come to realize that every hotel has it’s ghosts. Well the Overlook Hotel brings a whole new meaning to hotel ghosts. The novel The Shining by Stephen King will surely terrify and make people think twice when they hear something go bump in the night at a hotel.  It is terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. The main parts of the novel I enjoyed was the descriptive setting, the use of such colorful characters, and the way the character’s interact with each other.

The first part of the novel I enjoyed was the descriptive setting. The way the author described every little detail of the way The Overlook looks inside and out, all the way from the details of the carpet to the way the hedges outside look. I really felt like I was in the hotel with them. The author did a wonderful job at this. I could visualize every part of the book. The hotel was a great choice for the story to take place. The setting was greatly added to by describing the snow also. The way the snow really made an obstacle for the characters really gave me a sense of how it would look trying to go out and play like Danny did. I felt that the setting was my favorite part of the whole novel.

The second element of the novel that I enjoyed was the colorful characters. Dick Halloran was my favorite character. He was the cook at the Overlook and is just as uniquely talented as Danny and is very helpful to Danny and Wendy Torrance. Jack Torrance is a former alcoholic who was a teacher until a previous incident cost him his job. He is trying to control his temper and as time goes on he starts to feel strange as if the hotel wants him. But the question is does it want him or does he want to be a part of the hotel. Wendy Torrance is a very sweet woman and has stuck right by her husband’s side through it all. She forgives and forgets and moves on from each disappointing crisis. In the end they all must try and save each other but it seems as though Jack doesn’t want to be saved. I feel as though the hotel is a character also. The way it really comes alive it is as though it has it’s own personality and all. There also seems to be some guests that have failed to checkout.

The final element of the book that I enjoyed was the way the characters interact with each other. The characters in the beginning seem to be a happy family. Well besides the fact that Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic and his son Danny and his wife Wendy never know when he is going to lose his temper and hurt one or both of them. Wendy really tries to keep the family together and you can really feel how much she loves both her husband and son. She tries to keep the piece and keep Jack from hurting himself or someone else but all he thinks is that she is nagging at him. Their son Danny is a very uniquely talented little boy to be only five years old. He is very much daddy’s little boy and at times his mother gets jealous. But all in all they think going to the Overlook and spending the winter together would help them all be happier. That is until the severe storms really kick in and it hits them that they are pretty much trapped in the hotel all alone with no connection to the outside world. Or are they really alone? Soon they begin hearing things and sometimes even seeing them. For Danny this is nothing unusual but for his mother and father it makes them think they are going insane. The way the characters connect and interact with each other is really an important part of the novel.

All together the novel was wonderful. I really enjoyed every last page of the book and loved seeing the story unfold right in front of me. I recommend this book to those who love to read anything that will make them check their closet and under their bed. I definitely look forward to reading more of Stephen King’s novels in the future. I definitely want to find out if all of his books are as great as this one. Everyone should absolutely read this book sometime soon just to experience the hotel as described in the book. 


6 responses

  1. In order to separate the text from Amazon from your review, change its appearance. This way you make it easier for the reader to transition from one to the other seamlessly.

    In the sentence, “Well the Torrance family quickly realizes that having a hotel all to yourself and pretty much being trapped in by snow isn’t all they imagined,” you talk about the Torrance families realization, but then use the word “yourself.” I would change this to “themselves.” I also may rearrange this sentence a little bit to make your point stronger while adding clarity. You could edit this to look something like, “The Torrance family quickly realizes that having a hotel all to themselves isn’t all they imagined.” From there, i would build with introducing getting trapped in by the snow. This will ease the reader into understanding what’s happening in the novel as well as your point. You could build your following sentence, “They find themselves trapped…” and build from there.

    Unless you are meaning to say, “it is,” use “its.” An apostrophe on “it’s” indicates you mean, “it is.”

    The last sentence in your second paragraph has a singular/plural disagreement. You use “parts” and then use “was.” You can fix this by changing “was” to “were” or “include.”

    Your third paragraph, describing the setting, was a strong paragraph. It really made me want to read the book so I could imagine the same things you mentioned. This is definitely a strong aspect of a book review. Nicely done.

    In your fourth paragraph, you wrote the sentence: “But the question is does it want him or does he want to be a part of the hotel.” This is a very analytical sentence and I like the way you have included this thought-provoking question. This will peak readers’ interest and make every reader want to read the novel in order to answer that very question. I might suggest adding a comma after “But” and “is.”

    I love the sentence, “I feel as though the hotel is a character also.” This is a very good insight you have given. Statements like these are strong and show that you didn’t just read for the story line, but that you have closely analyzed the book with a thorough reading. I might suggest adding a comma after, “character.”

    “She tries to keep the piece and keep Jack from hurting himself or someone else but all he thinks is that she is nagging at him.” In this sentence you use the spelling, “piece,” which means a piece of something, such as pie. Instead, I think you mean to use to spelling, “peace.”

    “Or are they really alone?” I like this mysterious addition to your review. This continues building your readers’ excitement to read this novel.

    Your last paragraph is quite strong, too. I would make a coupe of suggestions, though, just to make it even stronger.
    “I recommend this book to those who love to read anything that will make them check their closet and under their bed.” This is a good sentence and I know what you’re saying; however, I would change it up a little just to make it a little clearer, as it took me a double-take to realize what you were saying.

    “Everyone should absolutely read this book sometime soon just to experience the hotel as described in the book.” This is a great final sentence. I would make the suggestion to change “just,” to “if only.” This isn’t because there is anything wrong with the way you already have it worded but, instead, because it would add a different emphasis to make the point you are making in this final sentence even stronger.

    Overall, I loved your review. You are very colorful and analytical, which makes for an intriguing read. Reading a review like this, as descriptive and with such analytical questions, definitely drew me into wanting to read this book. I have never read it, but now I definitely want to. Thanks for the great review and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    1. Thank you Kara your comment has helped me very much and I will definitely use your suggestions in my next review. I see that you mentioned my amazon quote and I didn’t notice until you pointed it out but on my hard copy that I turned in the appearance of this quote was different. Something must have happened when I posted it to the blog and I didn’t see it. So thank you for pointing that out I will make sure to pay more attention to this part of my review next time. One question I have is how do I make my sentences stronger? I see that you have pointed out some words that I could use to make my sentences make more sense and make them stronger also, but do you have any tips of how I can make them better? The only part I really have trouble with is making my sentences strong and adding a lot of details. Sometimes I don’t really think my paragraphs are long enough and I would like to know a way to make them more detailed. Thank you very much for your help and I would like to know your opinion on my questions.

      1. Ashton,
        I have had the same problems happen with my work, where it looks fine on a hard copy, but changes when I transfer it over digitally. I am glad you asked this question, as it is a troublesome area for all writers. Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy tip (that I can think of) to help make sentences stronger.
        I am going to give you some general suggestions that do not relate specifically to your writing, but writing in general.
        Reduce redundancy. Overly wordy sentences/paragraphs will bore a reader. I have had to work on this in my own writing to make myself a stronger writer.
        Leave out unnecessary details.
        Use strong verb choices (instead of a commonly used word, such as “run,” you could use “dash,” to be more descriptive and original.)
        Use strong adjectives, but in moderation. You want to be descriptive, but you do not want to be too descriptive.
        Stay on topic.
        Strong punctuation makes all the difference. Using colons, semicolons, dashes, commas, etc. whenever necessary can change plain or even awkward sentence into a powerhouse.
        Be specific about what you are talking about. Saying, “it,” “she,” etc. are good to keep away from repeating something over and over; however, at times, you need to remind the reader what/who you are referring to.

        And about your paragraph worry, we all know the general rule about paragraph length, but depending on what your paragraph is about, you may have more or less to say about the paragraph at hand. My suggestion, here, is just to make sure you’ve said everything you need to say in that paragraph and stay on the paragraph’s topic. Don’t try to make anything up as you go to make your paragraphs longer, as that will take away from the overall strength of the paragraph. Your paragraph may not be perfectly within the 3-5 sentence rule, but that is just a guideline. As long as you follow the rules about content in a paragraph, you will be successful. Length is an afterthought to content – content is where most of your importance is.

        I hope these tips were helpful for you. Having a question about creating strong sentences is a very smart question and that’s exactly how you become a better, stronger writer – by asking these types of questions. Thank you for responding back. I wish you lots of luck and success in working on making your sentences stronger. You’re already off to a great start.

      2. Kara,
        Thank you for your suggestions on how to make my sentences stronger. I think this will help me a lot with my writing. Two things I really need to work on are stronger sentences and punctuation. I really appreciate your help and I look forward to putting your suggestions to use on my future reviews. Thank you for saying I am a strong writer and off to a great start. Thank you for responding back also.

  2. Heather Kincaid | Reply

    I really enjoyed your review of this book. It was also a favorite of mine by Stephen King and I know when you read more of his work you will love it too. Kara did a wonderful job reviewing your report. I do agree with everything she has written above so I will not touch on the same points to keep from being redundant.

    I would, however, like to comment on your opening sentence and how quickly it draws in the reader. It was a very effective use of words to appeal to the desires of most people. You also did a very nice job summarizing the points that you will make in your review. You might just want to review your punctuation in some spots. Such as, in your second line (if you don’t rewrite it as Kara suggested), I would add a comma after well.

    The second paragraph was very well written. I only saw one minor error with the name of the hotel. Everywhere else you wrote “the Overlook Hotel”. Here you wrote “The Overlook Hotel”. I think you need to correct that, however I’m sure it was an oversight. You have it written correctly everywhere else.

    I agree with Kara, your third paragraph has some great insights in it. You read the book well. I believe Stephen King did intend the reader to think the hotel was another character in the story because it was alive. It does seem to possess Jack in one way or another. You may want to omit one phrase that sticks out to me. In “The way it really comes alive it is as though it has it’s own personality and all.”, I would drop the “and all.” It really detracts from the sentence and is unnecessary. I am also wondering if you can take the last line and rework it so that it will flow better. For example you could say, “There seems to be some guests that have failed to checkout adding to the hotel’s persona.”

    Your fourth paragraph is well written. You describe the characters interaction with each other in good detail, affording someone who has not read the book a clear picture of the cast. I would, however, make sure you address some of the small errors you made that Kara described.

    I liked your conclusion and how you zeroed in on your favorite aspect of the story again in order to reiterate that point to your reader. My only suggestion here is to use watch you word usage and to keep it from being repetitive. Such as your repeated use of definitely. You used it quite a bit. It was just slightly distracting.

    I must say it was difficult for me to suggest corrections for your piece. It was very well written with minor errors in punctuation and grammar. With those corrections it could stand alone as a good review. I think some of Kara’s suggestions as well as my own will only enhance your writing. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you Heather for your advice on my grammar and punctuation. I will try to pay closer attention to this part of my writing for my next reviews. Thank you also, for pointing out the strong parts in my writing. I will make sure to include these parts to better my writing. Like i asked Kara do you have any tips on how I can make my writing more detailed. I don’t feel that I add enough details and descriptions so do you have any advice on that? Thank you again for your suggestions on fixing my grammar and punctuation and pointing out the strong parts. Your suggestions have helped me very much and I will make sure to remember what you have told me when I go to write my next reviews.

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