Sunday, September 4, 2011

R.I.P. - Stephen King's Carrie

Carrie is Stephen King's first novel (published in 1974) and is one of the most frequently banned books in schools. I never did read Carrie, because I always thought I wouldn't like it. Why? Because I already knew most of the story. With three movies and one horrible spin-off, it is hard not to know most of the story. That shouldn't stop you from reading the book, though. Actually, you know "most of the story" within the first three pages of the book...

"Carrie glared at him with sudden smoking rage. The bike wobbled on its training wheels and suddenly fell over. Tommy screamed. The bike was on top of him. Carrie smiled and walked on. The sound of Tommy’s wails was sweet, jangling music in her ears."


Summary: Carrie White lives in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine. Being a high school outcast, she has no friends and no life. She is victimized by her schoolmates and abused by her over religious mother. It all becomes too much one day when, after her gym class, in the showers, Carrie gets her first period. Since her mother never bothered to tell her what exactly a period is, Carrie assumes she is bleeding to death. The shock, coupled with a bunch of girls screaming at her, disgusted, telling her to "plug it up" triggers a power in her she never knew she had. This extreme outburst is enough for Carrie White to take control of her (till then only involuntary) telekinetic abilities. What follows is a chain of events leading up to one disastrous night, which is later popularized by the media as the Black Prom.

"What happens if there are others like her? What happens to the world?"

My thoughts: Like with most of Stephen King's books, you feel yourself becoming a part of Carrie. It is a quick read and I loved the unique narration. The book is written in the form of newspaper clippings of the Chamberlain incident, science journal articles about telekinetic abilities, personal stories of the Black Prom survivors and book excerpts, all stringed together by the actual happenings in the form of a story. Starting with the first newspaper article, you know what happened in the town. What you don't know, is how it got to that. Why did the odd teenage girl described in the articles do whatever she did and more importantly, how? You hear the story from so many different perspectives, scientific and personal, that it's hard to figure out the truth. That's part of the magic! You get to pick your own conclusion on the story.

Most of the characters are your regular high school stereotypes. Still, what I love about Stephen King's books is the characters, and he hasn't done anything short of a great job with these. From Carrie White to the (almost) real protagonist Sue Snell, the book has some wonderful, albeit slightly dramatic, characters. And if not anything else, King has nailed the horror element; the "makes-you-wish-you-hadn't-read-it-at-night" horror element.


This was definitely a great way to kick-start the R.I.P challenge (though my planned kick-start book was Frankenstein, which I am not done reading.) Carrie is an amazing book and a must read for every Stephen King fan and anyone who enjoys getting completely freaked out!

20 comments:

Harish said...

May be I should try reading Stephen King....

Kayleigh said...

I haven't read this book, but not because I thought I knew the story but for some reason it never comes near to the top of my TBR list! I hadn't known it was written as a series of articles, that sounds so interesting and a definite reason to bump it up higher on my list!

Also, I didn't know there were 3 movie versions! I've only seen the version with Sissy Spacek (sp?) and John Travolta - it's pretty fantastic!

Priya said...

Harish - Maybe you should :)

Kayleigh - Oh, there was that one you've seen, and a remake of that one! And a musical, which I haven't seen! The movies are great, but so is the book. You should definitely read it!!

Kayleigh said...

A musical? Haha, that sounds like it'd be so hilariously bad I kinda want to see it!

Priya said...

Kayleigh - Haha, that's true. I have heard it was like a horror version of Cinderella and not exactly the biggest hit. If you ever do see it, tell me how you like it..!!

Pete Kent said...

I first saw Carrie when I was around 12, I think, and have loved it since. I only read the book a month or so ago 11 years later. Should have read it a long time ago. Fantastic book :)

Kailana said...

I used to read Stephen King once in a while back in the day, but it has been years since I read anything by him. Glad you gave this one a read. I have never read this particular one for the reason you start off with, I all ready know the basic story...

Priya said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Pete Kent - I saw the movie a long time ago, so by now I don't remember the whole of it, which is good! I do remember liking the film, and there are very few Stephen King book-based-movies I can say that about! It really is a fantastic book!

Kailana - Well, then that reason shouldn't stop you either! It's a great book and a very quick read, I do hope you give it a try anyway :)

deslily said...

oh geez sissy spacek as Carrie..! that was enough to cure me from wanting to read this book LOL.. good review!

Vishy said...

Glad to know that you enjoyed 'Carrie', Priya. I haven't read it, but I read Stephen King's 'On Writing' in which he describes his experience of writing and publishing 'Carrie'. I still remember the scene, where he describes how, when the publisher called him and tells him that the book is going to be released in paperback and how he would finally be able to make ends meet, he and his wife jump for joy and hug each other. It is one of my favourite literary moments, because I feel that authors, as a tribe, typically find it hard to make ends meet. Thanks for this nice review!

Priya said...

Deslily - Lol. Well, thanks anyway, and thanks for stopping by!

Vishy - I remember that part quite well! In fact, On Writing is what convinced me to read Carrie. King describes how he came up with the very important shower scene in Carrie and also the character of Carrie (and how he based it on two girls he knew in high school) in On Writing. I loved it so much that I knew I wanted to read Carrie, and boy, am I glad I did!! Stephen King is the best.

dooliterature said...

Great review! I might have to add a Stephen King novel or two to my TBR list (I don't think I've ever actually read anything by him).

Priya said...

Dooliterature - Thanks! Wow, well if you do ever plan to read Stephen King, add this one to your TBR list too! :)

KindleJoy said...

Hi, just hopping through and found your blog! Look forward to following you and read your reviews.
-KindleJoy- :-)

Priya said...

Kindlejoy - Incidentally, I visited your blog too, only today and I look forward to reading it too! Thanks!! Glad that you stopped by :)

Carl V. said...

I went on a tear reading Stephen King novels when I was in high school and it has been long enough ago that I cannot recall if I ever read this one or not. Any memories I might have are wrapped up on the iconic film version so I cannot be sure. One of the reasons King was so popular then, and remains so now, is that he knows how to tell a story that pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages. I have no doubt this was one of those page turners. The last book of King's I read was the very excellent, On Writing. I really should get back to him some day.

tfwalsh said...

I'm guilty in that I haven't read this book, but watched the movie... Really good:) Maybe I should read the book too:)

Priya said...

Carl V. - That's so true, that's what I like the most about King's books; I usually end up reading them in one go!

Tfwalsh - You should! Thanks for stopping by!

Kate said...

Carrie, the musical? **shudders** Actually I think Sissy Spacek was pretty much the beginning and the end of Carrie, just like no one else should ever even try to play Jack Torrance (I'm looking at you, Steven Weber.)

Priya said...

Kate - Haha, I know. I didn't like either of the The Shining movies much though (I mean, compared to the book!) Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

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