This was my first Stephen King novel (really!) and I seriously don't get what all the fuss is about. Sure, this is an easy read and while it was never so horrible that I wanted to abandon ship, it was the type of book that I found myself frequently setting down and not really dying to pick it up again. It was my commute book for a few days and I never even came close to missing my stop on the train -- you subway readers know what I'm talking about! For something that's supposed to be a horror/thriller-type book, it was not particularly suspenseful. It also wasn't scary at all.
And ugh, the characters. I'm not the type of reader who has to like or identify with the characters in a book, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about anyone in this novel or what happened to them. I don't generally like kid protagonists, however precocious they may be, so that was a big part of it. Wendy, despite being described as "a reader", does absolutely nothing in the book except sleep, whine, cook, and occasionally have sex with her husband. I guess this is King's idea of a modern, supposedly intelligent woman? I was probably supposed to feel some sympathy towards her but sorry, I just couldn't do it. And where do I even begin with Jack? Asshole. Abusive, misogynistic, pathetic asshole. Don't give me that "the hotel made him do it" bullshit. He was an asshole before all that ballroom mumbo jumbo. I would hate him if he didn't bore me so much. The way he complains about needing a drink on every other page and is constantly wiping his mouth -- I'm sure this is supposed to be some endearing flaw but I couldn't help imagining him as some fool bumbling around and drooling everywhere. Halloran... well, I guess he was okay, but I didn't really care about him either. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the few books that would have been improved if everyone died a horrible death at the end.
I haven't seen the movie of this either (I know! Another shocker!) but now I actually want to. I can kind of see how this might work better as a film. At least it wouldn't have random psychic ESP thoughts in parenthesis everywhere... or so I hope.