June was a fairly successful month for reading but July, on the other hand, was a little iffy. There have been plenty of times where I’ve started a book, gotten to page 50 and given up (Hillary Clinton Hard Choices being a prime example) and this happened for a brief period in July. Some books are just difficult to get into and I seemed to find one that took a while for my brain to decide it was enjoying the story.
I watched the film version of The Shining 10 years ago and I remember very little of it. I can recall the scene in room 217, the bit with the twins and the part where Jack is at that bar and also shouting “here’s Johnny” but that’s about it. I guess not remembering much of a film works in your favour when reading the book the film is based on as you go in with very few preconceptions. The Shining is the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King so I have absolutely nothing to compare it to. If his other books start as slowly as The Shining, I think it may take me a while to get through the rest of his work.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it. I loved how the story progressed and how things became more and more disturbing the further I got into the book. The character development, more so of Wendy than anyone else, was impeccable and I thoroughly enjoyed the horror elements. What I didn’t like, though, was the ending. I feel like a story set in a hotel with a creepy past and with a 5-year-old child who can see things others can’t and a recovering alcoholic permanently on the verge of a breakdown should’ve ended in a more exciting manner. It just felt abrupt and completely random.
I’d recommend The Shining if that’s what you’re into but if you’re not a fan of books that are slow to progress and are occasionally frightfully obvious, I’d stay clear. I picked up The Shining because it’s a classic but my thoughts on it are a little jumbled. I probably won’t be rereading it anytime soon.
The only other book I read in July was The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. I’m not going to lie, I detested Gone Girl both the book and film – I can’t be the only person who finds Ben Affleck to be painfully boring – so why I bought The Grownup I’ll never know.
The story starts off promising. The opening sentence is about handjobs and then it progresses into a quick insight into the protagonist's past. It’s exactly what I expect from a Gillian Flynn novel; the main character being manipulative, ambitious and a little bit of a narcissist hardly came as a surprise. The beginning was obvious, the middle, however, was interesting. The story begins to twist and turn and the female narrator finds herself taking advantage of a woman called Susan. She plays on Susan’s fear but while doing so, she starts to realise that there are some creepy things going on.
The opening sentence had me interested, the middle had me hooked and the ending pissed me off. The Grownup is less than 100 pages but because of how the story plays out, it’s next to impossible to give a real explanation as to what was actually going on with Susan in such a short space of time. Maybe Gillian Flynn wanted to leave things to the reader’s interpretation or maybe she just wanted to annoy me but whatever the case, I resent her for it. I think The Grownup could’ve been brilliant had it been a full-length novel but 60 odd pages just aren't enough. At least it was a productive way to kill half an hour, though.
I wish I could be more positive about both books and I think over time, I will eventually appreciate The Shining for what it is but for now, I’m a little mad at Stephen King and Gillian Flynn. Despite the slight anger, I would urge you to read The Shining if books that involve hedges shaped into animals and elevators that move on their own is your deal. I wouldn’t recommend The Grownup unless you feel like losing however long it takes you to read 67 pages (did I honestly pay £2 for 67 pages?) though.