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11.22.63 by Stephen King

(Hodder & Stoughton, $39.99)Stephen King returns to haunt bestsellers lists the world over with his new novel 11.22.63. And this time around, he's found a whole new way to keep readers in suspense,

(Hodder & Stoughton, $39.99)

Stephen King returns to haunt bestsellers lists the world over with his new novel 11.22.63. And this time around, he’s found a whole new way to keep readers in suspense, desperately devouring pages into the wee hours.

11.22.63 is Stephen’s attempt to rewrite history – to prevent the murder of President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, and answer the question that has tortured many Americans of a certain generation: What if he had lived?

Jake Epping is the character who Stephen gives this momentous task to.

In the present day, Jake is a high school English teacher, recovering from a traumatic break-up from his alcoholic wife. So far, so ordinary. However, Jake’s life is about to take an extraordinary turn.

His friend Al, the local diner owner, reveals to Jake that his storeroom contains a time-travel portal to 1958.

Not only that, Al wants his pal to undertake a mission that he himself failed at – to live in the past for five years and save the president.

The first part of that equation seems easy enough. Jake is transported to a scene straight out of Grease – the good old days of hop dancing, classic American cars and smoking in restaurants; the food is full fat and the gadgets are low tech.

However, the time traveller’s life is a lonely one – until Jake meets and falls in love with librarian Sadie Dunhill who may turn out to be an obstacle in his quest to make history.

For all its talk of turning back time, 11.22.63 doesn’t require a massive suspension of disbelief while you’re reading it. It’s Stephen’s skill as a writer that makes the unbelievable seem believable.

At 734 pages, it’s not for the easily daunted, but you’ll be egging Jake along for every one of them, hoping for the impossible.

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