I am always excited when I pick up a new Stephen King novel. I believe he is very talented and while there are occasional novels that flop, I keep going back for more. “Joyland” is definitely one of his shorter novels. That is part of the reason that I picked it up, I just wanted something I could get through quickly and enjoy. I’ve been reading a lot of heavier things lately and wanted something easy to digest. That being said, I was a little disappointed when it was over. Then again, isn’t that the mark of a good book? It leaves you wanting more?
“Joyland” focuses around Devin Jones, known to his friends as Dev or Jonesy, a college student who takes a summer job at a theme park called Joyland. He comes into the amusement park and starts to learn the ropes and the Talk. Once there, he learns about the rumor that a girl haunts one of the rides – a girl who went on the ride one day with her boyfriend and never came out. He slit her throat, dumped her body over the side, and walked away. Dev develops an obsession with the idea of seeing the girl. Throughout the novel he is trying to get over his first love, which may be part of the reason that he forms such an attachment to the girl haunting the ride.
Although this is a Stephen King novel where the premise seems to revolve around murder and revenge, the truth is that this novel is more so about a boy growing up. “When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.” (Joyland, pg 26). Dev learns more than how to repair games and keep a park clean and functioning when working at Joyland. He learns a whole new outlook on life. He learns the pride of wearing the fur – a reference to the mascot of Joyland (a dog) that different employees dress up as on a rotating basis. Dev also learns that sometimes life works in mysterious ways. He has a few people come into his life who make a big difference. It goes both ways. He helps out a few people in his time at Joyland and it works out for the best. Dev is a good guy with a broken heart and a fascination with a dead girl.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think anyone who has a taste for a mystery would enjoy this book. Although Stephen King wrote it, it doesn’t have as much of the gore and horror that one comes to expect from him. His addictive writing style is still there and you can clearly hear his voice through the character of Devin Jones, which just reiterates the fact that Stephen King was the author here. I believe that this book, as I believe was the fact with “11/22/63” would be a good book to hand to someone who isn’t a huge fan of Stephen King. It’s like diet King. The book was quite enjoyable and I wish it were lengthier because I would love to have stayed in the Joyland world just a little while longer. Either way, “Joyland” was enjoyable and I believe it would appeal to a wide audience.