Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
This book is the very definition of good summer reading: a real page turner, almost impossible to put down, a quick read, fun, kind of breezily deep. It had just about every keyword that would get me excited: vintage theme park/carnival, a ghost, murder! The ghost, the mystery, is incidental to the characters, to their journey, which is both understandable (to the King faithful, characters are everything) and also a nuisance, because the mystery felt rushed. I'd guessed who'd committed the murders, only by virtue of it being a sort of character trope, not from any actual clues given--and there are some, but they're so vague, it's nearly impossible to try to solve the crime going on those alone. I pegged Lane because he seemed like the least likely, and that seems to be a trend in books I've read lately. There's a decently suspenseful climax, and I suppose I'm happy I was spared from justifying/monologuing from Lane, but I would have liked a little more detail as to how/why he did it, and why neither Rozzie nor Mike picked up on it (a dual personality? He's pushed it aside so far inside of himself, the other part was predominant?)
Devin was a wonderful main character/narrator; I found myself falling in love with him, as I do all of King's good male characters. Erin and Tom, and of course Mike, were all surprisingly well-drawn, sympathetic, easy to empathize with--a surprise for a book as short as Joyland is. And Annie turned out to be quite the surprise!
Ultimately, the book is about that golden time right between childhood and adulthood, that magical summer that breaks your heart and thrusts you from one into the other, former into the latter. And King always handles these things with such care. He surrounds Dev, who is in that suspended golden age with characters who have had to deal with it in different ways, have gotten over it or have had to gone through it too early(the former in the case of Annie; the latter Mike and Linda Gray) and it just felt so well thought out and so perfectly balanced. I ended up liking this book a lot more than I would have guessed, and being impressed with it.