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Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

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Carrie was Stephen King’s first jaunt into novel writing, originally published in 1974.

Carrie is a brilliant thriller, featuring an essentially damaged teenage girl with telekinetic (the ability to move objects with the mind) abilities.

Carrie White is the outsider at school. She’s always the butt of the joke.

Carrie’s home life isn’t much better with her Christian Fundamentalist mother. Her mother is physically and emotionally abusive, she thinks practically everything is sin. She regularly locks Carrie in a closet, the closet is designed to terrify and torment with effigies of sinners. To encourage Carrie to recognise her many sins and repent.

One day things change for Carrie. She is sixteen, in the communal showers at school after Physical Education, when she begins to bleed. She stands there, thinking that she must be dying.

Nobody has ever told her about menstruation. Unfortunately the other girls are less than sympathetic, in fact they are the polar opposite. They are cruel. They taunt her. They throw sanitary towels and tampons at her, telling her to plug it up. This traumatic event during puberty triggers something within Carrie and she starts to slowly realise that she can move and manipulate objects with her mind.

But what will she do with the power? Then popular boy Tommy Ross invites Carrie to The Spring Ball. What somebody intends as a kindness to Carrie leads to devastating consequences.

In Carrie the description is good, but some of it has become dated over time – including references to things. This is something that King recognises in the introduction to the story. However the reader can still mostly imagine what’s happening.

The story is told from various perspectives and using various formats (including quotes from imaginary books published about The White incident, interview Q&A from The White Commission, articles from News Papers, AP tickers and direct first person accounts). This variety in formatting made a refreshing change, although it did give some of the plot away at times. However it did add an retrospective analysis to events.

Carrie was a character that the reader quickly develops empathy for. All the other characters were strong and a few words of dialogue or internal thinking was all that was needed for them to come to life.

The plot was captivating and the pacing moved along at an appropriate speed. As Carrie was King’s first book, it is much shorter than some of his other books. This shortness actually made the book more enjoyable than some of King’s tomb-sized books.

Carrie is available to buy on Amazon and at all good book shops.

Review soon,

Antony

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