I listened to Joyland as an unabridged audio. I love carny tales and this one was a fantastic blend of carny life, murder mystery and coming of age tale all wrapped up with the quirky dialogue and turn of phrase that only Stephen King can deliver.
Set back in the 1970’s, Devin is a college student who accepts summer work at a struggling independent amusement park called Joyland. Joyland’s goal is to spread happiness and joy to children big and small with their doggie mascot, carny games/rides and junk food. This is a park I would LOVE if it really existed because the owner keeps it going out of love not profit. Anyway, during Devin’s summer long run, he makes friends, meets some colorful characters, struggles to solve a decade old murder, perhaps sees a ghost and even saves a life or two all while nursing a broken heart. I am saying no more about the plot.
I loved this book. It’s full of life, love, interesting characters and has so much heart. Devin reminded me of Koontz’s Odd Thomas character in so many ways. He’s sensitive and kind and just a very special character that I won’t soon forget. I’ll remember him not for his extraordinary acts (and there are a few) but for his sensitive and sweet nature. He’s just a lovely person, a real sweetheart of a character, and one that you don’t run across often enough in fiction. Be warned though this book will make you cry. But don’t let that put you off. Please don’t let that put you off. It’s a five star read and a book I didn’t want to see come to an end. It’s only a little scary and I really think all of you should read it or listen to the audiobook which is narrated beautifully by Michael Kelly. He imbues Devin with wide eyed optimism, heartbroken emotion and pure joy with just a slight change in his tone. His voice is youthful and fits the character to perfection. He does well the supporting characters too. He was fantastic and brought the book, the sights and the events to life. I couldn’t ask for anything more. For once!