Carrie by Stephen King

Stephen King’s first novel shows that he had the power to grip and enthrall viewers from the very start of his career.  The story probably needs no introduction, but in essence, it concerns Carrie White, a teenage high school outcast, the subject of cruel taunts and jokes, with a religious zealot for a  mother.  But Carrie has the power of telekinesis – a shocking and vengeful trait.

After Carrie is mercilessly subjected to a locker room ‘hazing’ one girl feels remorseful enough to get the most popular boy in school to take Carrie to the Prom.  But darker forces are at work, and events result in mass death and lots of bloodshed.

I enjoyed this more than I had hoped to.  Stephen King may not win many literary awards, but he is certainly able to crank up the tension and keep the pages turning.  He himself describes his early work (and this was his debut novel) as “raw” and while I would agree with that, the story in this novel was exciting, and I didn’t want to put the book down.

While the story is mainly told in the third person, excerpts from books, newspapers and interviews told retrospectively attempt to understand the events that took place and make sense of them.  These parts of the story give clues as to how the tale unfold, but rather than spoil anything, they simply tease the reader and make them want to read on.

The characterisation however, is fairly poor.  Carrie is obviously the most developed character, but most of the remaining characters are stereotypical, especially the perpetrators of Carrie’s distress.  This doesn’t detract from the story though – this novel is more plot than character driven.

Stephen King is probably the most famous horror writing of his time, and this book shows exactly why.  Very enjoyable.

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